Douglas Adams’ Clouseau-meets-Miss-Cleo character returns for a five-issue mini-series written by IDW Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall and drawn by Wonder Woman and Hellblazer artist Tony Akins. Can the bumbling dick who believes in the “interconnectedness of all things” connect with his audience? Is it good?
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency #1 (IDW Publishing)
This first issue for Dirk Gently’s new “Holistic Detective Agency” opens, surprisingly enough, in ancient Egypt. There two pleasantly mismatched pals – Neferhotep and Craig – lament how becoming a pharaoh has changed their friend, before they’re offered immortality by a character who looks to be a cross between General Thunderbolt Ross and the general who sells car insurance. That’s an untrustworthy combination, kids!
Flash forward to the present, where Dirk has found himself in the possession of someone else’s luggage after blindly rifling through his flight’s cargo hold. He coincidently passes the bag’s rightful owners, a clean cut-looking couple, in his rush to reach a destination he can’t identify. The pair follow Dirk until his cabbie kicks him out in confusion, and on the way we discover the lovebirds may be more sinister than they appear.
The issue’s title of “Schrödinger’s Copycat” becomes a little clearer, as the contents of the bag turn into the mystery in question. Tension is built when Gently’s attempts to open the tote are consistently sidetracked, first by the owners of the detective-themed teahouse he’s serendipitously found. Dirk is further interrupted by a homeless man whose friend was murdered after calling on a golden phone, which was gifted to him by someone with a suspiciously similar moniker to the mustachioed stranger introduced in the story’s beginning. Maybe he also has something to do with those strange happenings at the museum ….
Is It Good?
I wasn’t familiar with Dirk Gently before reading this book, and while I’m sure that costs me some geek cred, I hope it allows for a fairer appraisal of the issue.
The theme of “interconnectedness” is certainly on display, as the modern is woven into the ancient, and Dirk finds himself embroiled in it all seemingly by chance. Of course Gently believes it to be deeper than that, as he poo-poos Sherlock Holmes for relying solely on observation to solve his cases. Whether the holistic detective really has supernatural powers or is simply unaware of how acute his senses really are is up to the reader to decide.
The characters all read distinctly and the whole thing (see what I did there?) feels British enough that I’m sure Adams would approve. When it’s pointed out to Dirk that his bag doesn’t actually belong to him, he characteristically quips, “It’s more mine now than it’s ever been.” Well, he’s not wrong!
The art here is … fine. There are a couple good gags of people unintentionally preventing Dirk from opening the luggage, but I would’ve liked to see more visual flourishes to match those in the dialogue. Akins capably moves the story along, but I don’t feel like his style is intrinsic to what Ryall is trying accomplish. Could probably swap in another artist without dramatically affecting the tone.
The first issue of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a fair introduction to the scenarios the character often finds himself in, complete with wry jokes and wide-reaching events. Existing fans will likely enjoy becoming part of that web, but the uninitiated will have to decide if the wordplay and plot-weaving keeps their interest over the adequate yet unspectacular art.