Saturday, November 26, 2016

"A Houdini for the Millennium"

Having scored success using Houdini as a character in its popular Spawn series [see Houdini's SPAWN], in 1998 Image Comics launched a 4-issue mini-series featuring Houdini himself. In Daring Escapes, Houdini is a trans-dimensional time-traveller battling the forces of evil. Escape artist Jim Steranko, who penned an essay for issue #1, called it "a Houdini for the Millennium."

Daring Escapes was written by Andy Grossberg and Tom Orzechowski with art by Alan Weiss, Arthur Nichols and Jim Fern. Each issue containing a unique magic dedication. Below is are the covers and a description of each installment.

ISSUE ONE: Heart of the Matter
"Dedicated forever to Harry Houdini, the man who could not be held!"
Houdini, residing in an afterlife called the "Overlap," is assigned the task of retrieving a statuette made of dangerous Hellite (conjured in Spawn 19-20). The action plays out in 1492 Rome and sees Houdini escaping from the Vatican dungeon. This issue also contains the essay "Houdini Reincarnated!" by Jim Steranko. Released in September 1998 in two variant covers (above).

ISSUE TWO: Matters of the Heart
"Dedicated to James Randi, Esq. for his amazing book on conjuring."
Houdini travels with "Balsamo's Circus of Delights" through Central Italy in 1503 in pursuit of an artifact stolen by a dimension hopping Pope who may be immortal. Meanwhile, evil grows more powerful in modern day New York. With issue #2, Jim Fern replaced artist Arthur Nichols. The issue includes an essay by writer Andy Grossberg. Houdini's aviation career and Bess get brief mentions. There's even a nod to Star Wars. Released in October 1998.

ISSUE THREE: Mind Over Matter
"Dedicated to Kenneth Silverman. 'Houdini!!! The Career of 
Ehrich Weiss' is a must read!"
Houdini teams up with a young angel named Kimiel in pursuit of the Hellite statue in a modern day Manhattan awash in evil. This issue includes a flashback to a 1913 performance of Houdini's Water Torture Cell. It also includes letters to the editors. Released in November 1998. 

ISSUE FOUR: Heart and Soul
"Dedicated to all magicians everywhere, stage or otherwise!"
Houdini and Kimiel battle Pope Borgia and his cultists in a Manhattan church and uncover the true mastermind behind the plot, Judas Iscariot! A grand finale packed with a campy mix of religion and action. Writer Tom Orzechowski provides a final essay about the creation of the Houdini character in both Spawn and Daring Escapes. Released in March 1999.

Despite hopes, Daring Escapes was never collected and released in a combined edition (as far as I know).

Below are links to more adventures of Houdini in the comic realm.


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