When Marvel released Sigil a few months back, it came as something of a surprise to me. I hadn’t been aware that Marvel would be doing anything with the CrossGen properties they’d inherited from Disney, but I was legitimately excited when I found out they were. CrossGen may have been a bad company, but they put out a lot of very good books, particularly in genres traditionally underrepresented in comics. One of the strongest examples of that was Ruse, a rock-solid example in Victorian-era detective fiction, Sherlock Holmes with a twist. And while Sigil‘s opening issue underwhelmed me, Ruse reminded me why I missed CrossGen so much.
I’m happy to report that Mark Waid and Mirco Pierfederici’s relaunched Ruse miniseries, now concluded, remained stellar throughout. Master detective Simon Archard and his partner Emma Bishop have been working two cases that, as the laws of mystery fiction demand they must, turn out to be related to one another. Little did they know, however, that the relation was on purpose: the taunts of Archard’s nemesis Gabriel Lightbourne, meant to draw him into the game. Pierfederici’s art is solid and moody, though his faces – particularly Emma’s – tend towards the bland side, while Waid’s script emphasizes subtle humor and excitement.
It’s hardly the most memorable plot, but Waid sells it with top-notch character beats, solid humor and a sensible, engaging mystery. Marvel has so few character-based books that it’s relaxing to read one in which exceedingly well-characterized men and women can work together, fight together, and joke together without any real sexual tension or romantic melodrama. Ruse worked flawlessly, and I can’t wait for the team to get back together again.
Grade (issue): A-
Grade (series): A
– Cal Cleary