For those who enjoy the Weird Western Tales era of comics, the newest adventure of Mike Mignola’s Sir Edward Grey should be right up your alley. When last we saw our British paranormal investigator he was crawling through the alleys of London on the search for demons.
The new series, Witchfinder: Lost And Gone Forever, finds Sir Edward Grey in the unfamiliar territory of the Wild West. One if his brothers from the Heliopic Brotherhood have gone missing and Grey comes to a small, corrupt, violent western town to find him. Within minutes Sir Edward Grey stumbles upon and old woman praying in the ruins of an old church, setting up part of the mystery. Then, of course, he runs afoul of the local townspeople only to be saved by a friendly local, who may be more than he seems.
As far as originality in plot, Witchfinder: Lost And Gone Forever offers very little. Outsider comes to weird town, something foul is going on, the townspeople are mean and the supernatural will somehow be involved. It’s as if somebody combined classic western “loner” elements with and episode of Supernatural. I guess when you’re writing about the paranormal, witches, demons and the ilk that the fountain of inspiration can only run so deep.
That being said, I still enjoyed issue #1 simply because writer John Arcudi attacks the comic in a Weird Western Tales style. Comics today seem less interested in telling individual stories than trying to incorporate their whole roster into some tie-in swamped, mini-series infused, and epic crossover. That house of cards is really flimsy and while sometimes you get Blackest Night, other times you’re left with the 52 pick up of Dark Reign. These Mignola inspired stories, from Hellboy to Witchfinder to B.P.R.D., follow the Creepy, Weird Western Tales ideal by telling one story. Beginning, middle, end, that’s what you get and that is very refreshing. Nothing in Witchfinder Lost And Gone Forever bowled me over with surprise or unexpected revelations, but it was a hell of a lot of fun to read.
Enough can’t be said for what John Severin’s art brings to the piece. His use of cross etching to create texture is wonderful; it breathes life into everything from what’s in the focus of the panel to the backgrounds. I also enjoyed how Severin pencils the human form, especially the faces. Each individual character has an unsettling vibe to them, something creepy and foul just below the surface. If it had been something too over the top, like Richard Corbin’s work, it would’ve seemed hokey. Severin instead puts a feeling of dread just underneath the skin of each character, which is a really effective plot device.
If I had one complaint about Witchfinder: Lost And Gone Forever it would be the exposition section between the mysterious “stranger” and Sir Edward Grey. Its five pages crammed with nearly thirty panels and all of it the back-story of this weird town. I would have preferred to see the mystery unfold as opposed to being laid out for us, so it disappointed me a little. All in all Witchfinder: Lost And Gone Forever is a solid, if not wholly original, slice of comic book horror/thriller.