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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Witchfinder. In the Service of Angels. Mike Mignola (Writer), Ben Stenbeck (Art), Dave Stewart (Colours), Clem Robbins (Letters) Dark Horse (2010)

A superb adventure story about Queen Victoria's special agent fighting the occult, Sir Edward Grey. After a number of very suspicious deaths, Edward Grey learns of an expedition to Egypt which uncovered a lost city and a odd set of bones. The members of the expedition were the first victims of a creature which returned to England with them, it becomes increasingly more murderous as Grey attempts to track, trap and kill it. The story is superbly well done, the reveals are very well paced, the cast are very engaging and the conclusion satisfyingly grim.
Mike Mignola has taken a background character from his Hellboy stories and given him a story of his own. The same care and craft that goes into the Hellboy stories is evident here. The central plot is carefully garnished with a wonderful cast and array of ideas, suggestions and lurking conspiracies. These give the story a strong context and sense of time before and after the action described in the story. Edward Grey is a melancholy character, competent yet somewhat out of his depth and aware of it. He moves through the layers of London without ever really fitting in anywhere, this awkwardness opens up the story and allows the human element never be dominated by the supernatural.
Ben Stenbeck's art is a joy, it is full of suggestion, shadows and corners abound where there is probably something going on. London, high and low is given a nice solidity that creates a vivid stage for the supernatural activities. The cast are drawn with great vigour and animation. They fill their spaces with spirit and manage to be ordinary and vivid at the same time. Dave Stewart uses a muted palette of colours to extraordinary effect, the colours rest within the art to provide additional depth and force. Clem Robbins lettering manages to be invisible and decorative at the same time, it blends in with the rest of the book and is unerringly easy to read. This is a great comic, produced by a hugely talented team of creators, an undiluted pleasure.

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