"Witchfinder: Volume 2 - Lost and Gone Forever" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Illustrated by John Severin
2011, 136 Pages
Trade paperback released on January 11th, 2012
Sir Edward Grey is roaming the United States circa 1880 in search for Lord Glaren, a man that has caused Grey much trouble. In his quest, he finds himself in a small town in Utah that has seen better days. The coal mine has dried up and the church was burnt down after a mysterious woman made all of the people inside disappear. Grey soon finds himself in the midst of much more than he bargained for as he's caught between angry town folk, a genuine witch, a reanimated spirit god, and the walking dead. Throw in a demon wolf and you've got the second volume of Witchfinder.
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I haven't read the first volume of this comic, but all you have to tell me is Mike Mignola is involved and it takes place in the Hellboy universe and I'm there. Obviously, the events of Witchfinder happen many years before that big red badass makes his way to our world, but you can see how the two can share various creatures. Just as with the other Mignola creations, Grey is the kind of guy that has a personal mission that he must accomplish, but he's willing to put it to the side to help others in need, especially when they need to solve a supernatural problem. Unlike characters like Baltimore and Abe Sapien, however, I had trouble identifying with Grey. Yes, he had a bit of a tortured past after dealing with a werewolf bite and an exorcism, but at the end of the day he's a stuck-up British snob roughing it in the Old West. He has a sense of honor and respect though, and that's what allows him to make a few allies along the way.
Grey partners up with Kaler, an old cowboy that knows his way around the desert, and a strong, yet strange man named Isaac who is most likely mentally handicapped. In many ways, I was more interested in their background than I was with that of the main character, especially Isaac. It's hinted that he is actually much older than he appears. His body carries scars of all kinds, but his mind is simple. He had a life years ago that is now a distant memory to him.
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Comic legend John Severin stepped in to illustrate Witchfinder. He's had a bit of experience with western and horror books, so it's a nice fit. His work is a classic style which lines right up to the setting and time period. It is a bit dated though, and is a stark contrast to Mignola's style, which is interspersed throughout the book as he provided covers for the series. Severin's art is a bit brighter than your regular Hellboy comic.
Witchfinder is a nice mashup between the horror and western genres. Authors Mignola and John Arcudi balance the cowboy shoot 'em up with a supernatural detective story with Grey. Sure, he's a little uptight, but he can keep up with Kaler and a horde of zombies, so he's definitely tough enough. I'm not sure how this ties in with the overall Hellboy universe, but the basics are there.