Simon Archard isn’t Sherlock Holmes. But if there were no Holmes, I doubt there would have been an Archard.
The latter is also an eccentric Victorian-era sleuth, and such a cold fish that he makes Holmes look like an emotional basket case. Archard plies his trade in an out-of-print comic book called Ruse, ably assisted by “beautiful but deadly Emma Bishop.” The relationship between Simon and Emma is more Steed and Peel than Holmes and Watson. Perhaps her first name is no accident. As the top of the comic proclaims, “He’s the World’s Greatest Detective. She’s even better.”
I recently picked up all four issues of The Victorian Guide to Murder in a thrift shop and was enchanted by this story of a master detective and the plot against him by a master villain.
The storyline of The Victorian Guide to Murder was exciting and puzzling, the dialogue by Mark Waid quite witty, and the illustrations first-class. I’d like to read more.
Ruse was originally published between 2001 and 2004 by CrossGen. Marvel Comics revived the title in 2010 with The Victorian Guide to Murder miniseries, which is available as a paperback or e-book if you aren’t lucky enough to stumble on it in a thrift shop.
One mind-bender: The setting is a city called Partington, a leftover from the original series set on another planet. But this is definitely Victorian England, for the great lady herself makes a late appearance in an unexpected role.