In Review: Witchfinder: The Gates of Heaven #2

A history is revealed, a source becomes a closed door, and a famous face appears.

The cover: Sir Edward looks suspiciously at August Swain, whose shifty eyes spy Aldous Middengard Sinclair absconding with a package. Behind all is a wadjet, with its lower spiral protectively covering Grey. This cover by interior artist D’Israeli shows the three main characters of this issue: the protagonist, a seedy character, and the individual that is sought. The inclusion of the Egyptian eye gives this cover an ancient flavor, as if there’s something ominous from the past that’s guiding their paths. Overall grade: A

The story: This issue picks up from the previous, with Colonel Burke recounting the incident that got him involved with the Foundy, the super secret British group, blessed by Her Majesty, to search for undiscovered artifacts, puzzle out their secrets, and provide “clandestine” services. Once given the origin of this group, Sir Edward learns information about Sinclair and what he thought the object he stole contained. This leads Edward to go to another locale to ask a question and Burke insists that Singh accompany him. The conversation this pair have on their trip is interesting, perhaps foreshadowing problems. The individual that the pair speak with is wonderful and his reaction to the whereabouts of the missing man is outstanding. The final five pages take this tale, by Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson, into a completely unexpected direction, starting with something disturbing involving a child and ending with a scream worthy reveal of a familiar face from other Mignolaverse books. I freely admit to gasping at seeing this character and my heart skipped a beat when this individual stated their name. New friends (and possible foes) are introduced, an investigation is launched, and someone makes their presence known. The next issue cannot come soon enough. Overall grade: A

The art: The first three panels of this book show a cave that Burke and his men discover. The colonel finds the floor is unstable and falls though it. His fall is well rendered by D’Israeli, but his reaction at the end of the second page is awesome; I always love seeing characters’ reactions to things the reader cannot yet see. His discovery is shown in the first panel on Page 3 and the design of the object is neat. It’s got recognizable features, yet it’s abstract — this is great design work by D’Israeli. Though the Foundry was shown last issue, it’s shown again on 4 and it is filled with all sorts of neat vehicles that shouldn’t exist. The three panels that comprise 6 and 7 expertly summarize the mission of the Foundry. The reaction of Burke in the second panel on 10 reveals the character’s thoughts about what he’s saying, putting an extra dimension into his character. The setting on 12 is outstanding and I would love to have a story where this location is fully exposed. The posture of the character that the pair are there to speak with is fantastic, and the character behind him, though only shown in that one panel, is outstanding for what he’s wearing. The close-up of Edward that follows on the next page increases the seriousness of what he says. This is followed by a fantastic reaction by the character at the top of 14. The reveal of the new character at the bottom of 16 is the definition of ominous. The repetition of the character’s image in the first two panels on 17 foreshadow a reveal on 18. The reveal on 22 had me screaming; I knew exactly who that was and the items and walls surrounding that character are awesome — What an introduction! The close-up that ended this issue is a superb visual for all the mystery it holds. Overall grade: A

The colors: This is a brown and tan book. Really, brown and tan. Michelle Madsen uses these colors to date the story in the Victorian era, but she makes it work fantastically. The first four pages are a prime example of this. A colorful setting doesn’t spring to mind with the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan in 1879 at night. Every shade of brown and tan is used to color this environment and its characters. I really love the coloring of Burke at the end of the second page with the dirt and darkness unquestionably recognizable, but everything in the dark absolutely clear to the reader. This could have a brown blot of a visual, but Madsen is perfectly skilled to make every element visible. The highlighting on Maddox is great, with a yellow glow always surrounding him against a mustard background. The first major change in coloring occurs on 12 at a new setting, with mustards and burnt reds appearing. They also increase the elegance and age of the site. The absence of colors in one panel on Pages 13 – 15 pulls the reader closer to the characters. The color of the character’s flesh on the final page was an instant clue to me as to whom this individual was and the colors surrounding this character increase the formality and age of the character. Great work. Overall grade: A

The letters: Clem Robins creates this issue’s scene settings, dialogue, sounds, screams, and the tease for next issue. Robins’s text is always easy to read and he places it in a book, regardless of its length, so that it doesn’t obstruct important elements in the art. There are several great yells and sounds in this book, with them being large and powerful. One would expect there to be some exclamations and creepy sounds in a supernatural book and Robins delivers the goods. Overall grade: A

The final line: A history is revealed, a source becomes a closed door, and a famous face appears. I love the stories where the hero has a goal but doesn’t know where it will take him — that’s the case with Grey in this story. Outstanding tension and great visuals. 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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