19th Feb2018

‘Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini #3’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Written by Cynthia Von Buhler | Art by Cynthia Von Buhler | Published by Titan Comics


I think it is fair to say this isn’t a book for everyone. Dealing as it does with themes of spiritualism and bondage, not normal bedfellows I would argue, and chock full of nudity and sex. However, if you like Vertigo style storytelling, books that push the envelope just that little bit more, then you should pick this up. Personally, I am in the latter group. I found the mix of real life characters and events, with fiction and guesswork at certain events, interesting and certainly made me want to learn a little bit more about how Houdini died in real life.

Speaking of Harry dying, that’s how we left him at the end of last issue. After he and Minky had been indulging in some bondage play, under the guise of teaching Minky his tricks, he had collapsed. Luckily for Minky, it both wasn’t her fault for getting him too hot under the collar, and he makes a full recovery. Seems it was related to that weird spiritualism fan from last issue that punched him hard in the abdomen. More on that later. Harry, meanwhile, is straight back to work. Minky, who although masquerading as Harry’s assistant is actually a wannabee detective after all, decides to try and track down the weird student who assaulted Harry. As Minky is quite happy to get her kit off if it helps the investigation, it doesn’t take her long to get useful info out of a fellow student, and she finds some leads to track down. After a little breaking and entering of course.

Harry, meanwhile, is back on stage performing in Detroit, but is not well. He can barely perform, and even his doctor has advised him to cancel. The show must go on, though, and Harry collapses. He is rushed to hospital, where an emergency operation takes place. The doctor stabilises Harry, but then another doctor appears wanting to help. Hmmm. Apparently, he has some sort of miracle cure. Double hmmm. Harry’s wife Bess is desperate, so agrees to it, and Harry is injected. Triple hmmm. Things crystalise even more when Minky realises the nurse who is travelling with Harry is one of the spiritualists, perhaps working with Arthur Conan Doyle to get rid of Harry for good. She was also the one who brought the new doctor. Mink’s warning to Bess gets there too late.

Minky decides to step it up a gear, and kidnaps and ties up (wondered when some more bondage would join the plentiful nudity) fake medium Margery, who she then impersonates at a séance. She fakes the séance likes a champ, and gets a confession from the hosts, Lord and Lady Marler, that they have sent a man to kill Harry. It seems that man may have finally succeeded, as we close on a tortured Harry.

A slightly more mixed issue for me, both story wise and content wise. The plot moved along nicely, though I got a little mixed up once or twice and had to backtrack. I also thought the nudity got just a little bit gratuitous this issue, first time I thought that, though I appreciate that the real life medium Margery did séance’s in the nude. Distracts a little too much from the smart writing at times. As a whole though I’m still enjoying, and the text pages were a nice little extra to give that real life context to what we are reading. Certainly opened my eyes a little.

As I said earlier, this is indeed strictly adults only fare. That said, it is a cleverly constructed and interestingly designed look at real events and people, and Cynthia von Buhler has poured her heart and soul into the book. There are nods to the golden age of the pulps too, with the use of bondage imagery and clothes falling off at every chance.

Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini certainly deserves a look from people who like their comics a little bit different, and a bit more grown up. It’s a good read.

***½  3.5/5


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