Sunday, April 15, 2012

When Houdini met Batman

Last month I posted a look back at Houdini's encounter with Dracula in the graphic novel Ghosts of Dracula. Here's another unusual crossover -- Houdini meets Batman!

The Devil's Workshop was released by DC in 1993 as part of their experimental "Elseworlds" series (setting classic superheros in "strange times and places"). The book was written by Howard Victor Chaykin and John Frances Moore with illustrations by Mark Charello. The extremely dark story finds Houdini and Bruce Wayne/Bat-Man investigating child abductions in Gotham City. Not only does the book experiment with Batman's timeline, but it plays fast and loose with Houdini's timeline as well. Even though it's 1907, Houdini's mother is dead and he makes references to his Buried Alive stunt and friendship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Houdini also smokes in the story. References to Houdini's Judaism abound. He even wields a Jewish star.

Unlike most graphic novels, we don't get a look at Houdini's stage act, but we do get to see a nifty seance in which the villain/medium conjures "Mama". The artist depicts Cecelia Weiss accurately, but for some reason Charello doesn't draw Houdini from any life image. He looks instead like a young Paul Riser. Tom Mix also makes a cameo appearance.

While I had thought Ghosts of Dracula was Houdini's only vampiric adventure, the villains at the end of The Devil's Workshop turn out to be vampires (I think).

It's really not the best Houdini or Batman adventure, but it is an  interesting experiment and a curiosity worth seeking out.

By the way, according to Patrick Culliton, Batman creator Bob Kane was a big Houdini fan.



  1. John, great minds think alike! Check out my blog. We must have posted at the same exact time....

    There are numerous conjunctions between Houdini and Batman. I'll be exploring them in depth in a new post by week's end.

    1. Wow. What a coincidence! I'm sorry. Had I known you were going to do something on this, I would have held back.

      But it sounds like you'll be doing much more with the Houdini-Batman connection. I'll link to you when you post.

  2. No apology needed. I should have told you. I've been researching it for weeks now. Re Pat Culliton's comment, I'm almost willing to bet that Kane used Harry as a model for how much a human being could accomplish with intensive training.

    1. How strange that I would suddenly be moved to do a post about this old graphic novel. Mysterious. Hey, is this proof of genuine psychic phenomena? Could we collect Randi's million dollar prize? :p

  3. I collect Batman comics, this one is my next buy for sure!

  4. I'm sure Randi would be thrilled to pay up, just this once!