In Review: The Witchfinder General #1

An entertaining book that will put a smile on your face when you're not screaming at the next threat.

The cover: Drew Jackson, the newest member of the United States Department of Witchfinder General, stares forward in disbelief at what his life has become. To his right is an attractive raven haired woman, who has a cameo of two pages in this first chapter, and to his left is Suetonius Herodotus Von Ark, who has an ashen pallor about him, as well as supernatural green lines swirling from him. Below all three is the “company car” of the department. I’m not knowledgable in cars, so I’m guessing that’s a Model T. There are some slight changes with the vehicle I’m used to seeing: its headlights are crimson, it looks to be spewing orange exhaust, and the driver, shown only in silhouette, has glowing green eyes. I like how a sickly green is used for supernatural elements. This is a fun image by Chris Grine that captures the spirit of this issue perfectly. Overall grade: A

The story: This issue, being the first, lays out the players and the situation of this series. Chris “Doc” Wyatt begins his tale “Massachusetts Bay Mystery” in very dramatic style. Police officers have arrived at a large house after a noise complaint. The door is ajar so they enter. Within they find three occupants, a husband, wife, and young son, dead “…their right hands each severed at the wrist.” Hearing some bumping under the closet they find the teenage daughter screaming. She’s taken to the police station where she’s questioned, which even she admits was done with “skill and care.” However, when she gets a moment alone she has to “report in” and that’s where the previous pages become more than were suspected. This is a serious opening to a funny book, and that’s exactly the right word for this — funny. The story then transitions to Drew Jackson who’s got a job at the Pentagon, but ends up in a department he’s never heard of, doing things he’s never trained for. He’s working under Suetonius Herodotus Von Ark, who’s been working there for decades as the United States Witchfinder General, as his intern. The dialogue between these two characters is fun: it goes where one would expect, as the aged, learned man quickly tries to teach the young man the tools and tricks of the trade, but Wyatt has Suetonius include some funny lines (Page 15, panel three; 16, panel five; all of 18; etc.). There’s a quick history lesson on previous Witchfinder Generals that has surprising inclusions with some fun commentary. The reason Drew stays at the job isn’t hard to figure out, though Suetonius’ reaction to that reason on 21 was intriguing. The company car was a good bit, and I hope that car has more up its sleeve…er, fender. The last three pages were a surprise as I thought there would be more of a lead up, but it is one heck of a “Now what?” cliffhanger. This was fun to read. Overall grade: A 

The art and colors: Chris Grine is doing double duty on this book, handling all visual aspects of this story. His art style is a perfect match for this tale. It needs to look scary for the dramatic moments, but must look fun as Drew stumbles his way through his life. Because of the story’s opening, Grine begins with some pretty horrific stuff, the triple murders and mutilations, but keeps it palpable with his style, though, truth be told, that bottom panel on Page 2 is as graphic and intense as anything in the horror market today. The reveal of the survivor on 3 looks like a scene out of Law and Order. It’s on Page 5 when the supernatural begins to appear, and Grine does a super job with it. I love the look of Drew. Due to his first name, he reminds me of a young Drew Carey, stumbling his way about, and he does exactly that on 8 (with a nod to The Family Circus) and 9. His entrance into the Deparment’s office reminded me of Scully’s entrance into the the X-Files department. The office Drew comes upon is a treasure trove. I was glad that Grine got to explore them silently, until almost poking that mummy. Suetonius is a wonderfully designed character, with eyebrows that give off tons of emotion and would even strangle a Time Lord. The individual encountered for only two pages (20 and 21) is interesting, though I have my concerns since her eyes are colored the same green as the sole survivor from the opening scene. When the two agents literally go out into the field it provides several opportunities for Grine to show he can do different settings, and he does so very well. I was impressed with the massive element that rears its head in over the top fashion on 25, the excellent use of colors at the top of 26, and the greatest visual gag of the entire issue in the fifth panel on Page 27. Looked at as a whole, Grine has done something to be very proud of, and readers are lucky he shared it with us. Overall grade: A

The letters: In my review copy of this book there was no credited letterer. I have since received word that Chris Crank is the letterer of this book, so I direct my praise correctly to him. Crank creates scene settings, narration, the chapter’s title, sounds, yells, dialogue, and the tease for next issue. I’m pleased as punch to see him using a different font for narration and dialogue, as some letterers don’t make this distinction. His yells also perfectly match the comedic art of Grine. Overall grade: A

The final line: With all the dark, grim, apocalyptic supernatural books running amok it’s about time someone put the fun back into ghostly adventures. Wyatt and Grine have created an entertaining book that will put a smile on your face when you’re not screaming at the next threat. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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