Written by: George Mann
Illustrated by: Dan Boultwood
Letters by: Rob Steen
Cover by: Dan Boultwood
Published by: Titan Comics
It’s been well over a decade since I first indulged myself with Ruse, a Victorian era supernatural detective comic originally published by the long dispersed CrossGen. When I read the description of Newbury & Hobbes, my attraction to the genre was immediately piqued again, especially because there seemed to be a lot of similarities between the two works. I have never read the novels, and after reading this first issue of the comic, I might go back and check out some of the books written by George Mann that feature the pair of sleuths. I might or I might not.
While I do love the fact that the writer and creator of the characters also penned the comic, I’m not sure about the text. It read easily and nothing seemed to jar me out of the time period, which often happens with historically inspired works, but it just didn’t wow me. I think it bothered me that Veronica Hobbes was largely silent, and we just got to read her thoughts through captions. Furthermore, the captions seemed to be a very forced way of her telling readers the story, instead of letting readers experience it for themselves. There was just way too much of her imparting inside information about characters she was supposedly already familiar with for it to seem natural at all. To compare it again as I did above, it really wasn’t even close to the master level of storytelling that Ruse had achieved.
For all that, the plot seemed fine. It was rather ordinarily exciting, and I of course love the steampunk elements, even if they weren’t as prominent as say, Lady Mechanika’s. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll be enthusiastic about the next issue, except I’d love to see more of Dan Boultwood’s art. The clean lines, defined shadows, and emotive character drawings all bring a sense of life to the otherwise so-so text.
Anyway, I find this version of Newbury & Hobbes to be in the vein of Amelia Peabody and Phryne Fisher mysteries, if not quite as compelling as them so far. But if you like either or both of those, you will probably enjoy this series.