In Review: Sir Edward Grey Witchfinder: City of the Dead #5

Witchfinder continues to mean quality in horror.

The cover: It’s quite a relief to find a book with only cover, as chasing variants can be an issue. This front piece is by Julian Totino Tedesco with antagonist Vladimir Giurescu, a vampire, taking his hands to his throat because it looks as if there’s something around it. He’s enveloped in a colony of bats that reinforce his vampire nature. I like the realism in the character and how his eyes and mouth are colored in red to accentuate his supernatural nature. The pasty white of his face also gives him a ghostly tone. A good, spooky cover. Overall grade: A

The story: This is the final installment of this series and starts right before the battle begins with Grey facing down Giurescu. The vampire tells the Witchfinder that he has the upper hand as he had made plans for his army of vampires to be legion. Grey takes all of the monster’s gloating until the bottom of Page 3 stating, “You see, I did not come alone.” This is followed by a partial double-paged spread that shows that the protagonists equally match the antagonists in number. What follows is a tremendous battle, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in any of the other Witchfinder titles. The action is terrific, taking place in the sewers and above ground. Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson do a really good job in pacing out this battle, as there are a couple dozen characters in action. Look at Pages 8 and 9 to see how the battle is shown with four of these characters. The banter between Grey and Giurescu is terrific, with the vampire being a wonderful boaster and Grey responding with the perfectly calm polite English tone. 17 and 18 have some terrific dialogue with Grey and another character that has appeared throughout this series and ends in a very appropriately forbidding way. I was surprised to see another character return on 20 and 21, with his dialogue being very pointed, but Grey’s reactions being the highlight. I’m hoping this is not foreshadowing the eventual conclusion of the Grey’s adventures. Overall Grade: A+

The art: Having an Englishman confronting a mob of vampires in a sewer in the 19th century provides artist Ben Stenbeck several opportunities to create some outstanding visuals. The first panel on Page 1 shows the nameless bloodsuckers that want to devour the protagonist, setting the tone of this book instantly. Grey’s first panel shows him in the traditional English mode, steadfast, while Giurescu makes his debut as one of the enthusiastic undead. The bottom panel on the page literally shows the divide between the protagonist and the antagonist, which builds the impending battle. The reveal on 4 and 5 is outstanding, which would induce applause if this were a film. The design on the human army that’s battling the vampires is terrific. It’s Steampunkish, but not so unbelievable as to be impossible for the time period. The battle is very graphic, though it’s what would occur in a conflict such as this. I really like 8 and 9, which shows vampires and humans being killed. Giurescu’s look on 10 and 11 is terrific, making him even more frightening. The character that does most of the speaking on 18 looks beautiful and I’m so hoping that Stenbeck gets another opportunity to draw this individual with the character doing more. Stenbeck should be locked down to illustrate every one of Grey’s outings. Overall grade: A+

The colors: One of the keys to making this story for Michelle Madsen is to have the story remain in the dark, because of the majority of the book is in a sewer, but have the visuals remain easily seen so the reader knows what’s occurring. She succeeds tremendously. On the first page Madsen instantly captures the dark interiors underground with the undead dark, but their orange eyes radiating with evil. Grey, in the same location, is also colored darkly, but the light he carries creates a wonderful eerie glow on him. Please take notice of the final panel on Page 2 which is given a red background to tell the reader that Hell on Earth has begun. Cool, yet powerful, blues have a great effect at the bottom of 4 and 5. Throughout the entire issue Madsen uses Earth colors that ground the book in reality, but also give the book an older feel, as if one is reading an ancient text; this, too, makes the book feel real. Madsen has become one of my favorite colorists because of her work on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer books, and now she proves herself to be equally adept in the Mignolaverse. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, yells, sounds, and growl are brought to life by Clem Robins. Because of the epic battle that’s the majority of this book, there are several sounds and they are wonderful. Half of the joy of comics are the sounds used in action sequences, and I’m overjoyed that Robins was allowed to insert so many in this issue. Pages 8 – 10 have most of them and you’ve got to love the progressive order of STHUNK, AIIIE!, CRUNCH, and SPLOOT. Robins continues to shine brightly in this dark universe. Overall grade: A+

The final line: An unexpected massive battle concludes this outstanding series. Witchfinder continues to mean quality in horror. Overall grade: A+

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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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