In Review: Witchfinder: The Gates of Heaven #5

The Gates of Heaven are opened, but what is going to come out?

The cover: It’s the end of the world as we know it as Sir Edward Grey is confronting a supernatural foe atop the Meridian Building at Greenwich. D’Israeli has the title character looking fierce as he bears a pistol in one hand and a demon killing blade provided by Panya in an earlier issue. The antagonist is only teased in this image, with its multiple fleshy arms and stringy sinews showing along the right side. Great illustration with the coloring sensational behind Grey, while he and his enemy are just barely seen under the dark sky. Overall grade: A+  

The story: The concluding chapter of this tale crafted by Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson opens at the Meridian Building with a massive stream of light issuing from it into the clouds above. On the roof is Aldous Middengard Sinclair using a device of his creation to open a portal. He screams at the sky, “Soon we shall be joined together, forever and without end.” Heralds arrive that foreshadow those he awaits; these creatures are birds with three head, spikes protruding from their backs, and rear legs that are more suited for apes. That’s when Grey and his companions arrive in stunning fashion. I loved Grey’s announcement that ends Page 5 and the first visual of the character on 6 aptly demonstrates his heroic nature. The vehicle by which he and his companions travel is fantastic. The two that accompany Grey to the roof have very different reactions to what they find, with the latter in panels three and four on Page 8 outstanding. The dialogue in the second panel on 10 is, again, fun, though the humor is cut short by what occurs in the last panel on that page. I am in love with the line and action in panel four on 11, and its results on 12 are awesome. The reveal at the end of 14 and the reminder that starts 15 are excellent, showing readers they should have been recalling the past to see the solution to this threat. The solution on 17 is so obvious to the character it made me smile, and I really enjoyed the dialogue atop 19 that addressed the solving of the problem. 20 and 21 wrap up this tale, but leave many doors open for more adventures, with the final one suggesting that something from this tale will be helpful immediately. This latest exploit of the Witchfinder winds up perfectly. Overall grade: A+

The art: There is so much supernatural weirdness in this book and D’Israeli is crushing it with his visuals. The portal in the sky is not only creating a blast of light into the sky, but a geometric pattern is emitting from the clouds, creating a strange hypnotic effect. The final panel on Page 2 clearly shows that Sinclair is in contact with something not of this world. His gaunt face increases the horror of what he’s doing in every panel. The heralds that arrive on Page 4 are horrors and terrifying enough to be the antagonists of their own book. The vehicle on Page 6 is simply outstanding. I love what it is and how D’Israeli has designed it. I would love to see its return in any book. And how about how Grey enters the book on this page? If that’s not a hero’s entrance, I don’t know what is. The contrast of the characters on Page 8 is fantastic, with the one in the final two panels winning my heart for the way the character looks and their actions. The energy on 9 is incredible and showing Sinclair in practically a silhouette makes him seem so powerful. The final panel on 10 is the beginning of several “Oh hell” moments, with Sinclair looking amazing. Every panel that follows this page has Sinclair looking spectacular. The point of view that ends 13 is great, showing the reader how the situation sizes up from a distance. The reveal at the end of 14 is stellar and it had me cheering. The change in appearance between 15 and 16 is perfection, telling the reader through visuals what has been accomplished. The visual humor of the first panel on 19 is terrific. The line work on 20 and 21 is spectacular, resembling ancient images from the turn of the century. I would love to see D’Israeli return to illustrate Sir Edward’s adventures. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Michelle Madsen also creates a spooky tone with her colors on this issue. The light blasting into the blue skies is pure white, but the unseen portal in the sky is an unnatural pink for the hour. The geometric pattern that’s created is white on blue, making it unnerving. The top of the building has no natural light sources, so all the characters are colored darkly, but have highlights that make them frights, such as Sinclair. There’s an excellent tease of what he’s tapped into with the colors that end Page 2. The power of the event at the top of Page 4 is shown through the blast of bright colors on the clouds, the skies, and the creatures coming down. The pink that’s shown behind characters and in the distance adds to the discordance of the situation. I absolutely love the coloring in the first panel on 6 — it’s beautiful. On 10 characters are given pale violet skin while elements of their faces are colored brighter to show where the light source is and to increase the terror of their visages. The browns used in the first panel on 15 are outstanding and they are reused on pages 20 and 21. The pinks on 16 in the final panel add to its grotesqueness. Madsen is unquestionably adding to the horrors on the pages. Overall grade: A+

The letters: This issue’s text is created by the talented Clem Robins who is responsible for the narration, dialogue, blasphemous phrases, and sounds. I like that the dialogue looks differently from other Mignola books, somewhat harsher and bolder, giving the book an older visual feel that’s in line with the time period. The incantations uttered by Sinclair are bolder than the dialogue, making them yells to dark gods. The sounds are large, which suits their loud actions. And I would be remiss if I didn’t praise Robins for having the narration in a different font from the dialogue — a sign of a great letterer. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The Gates of Heaven are opened, but what is going to come out? Great story with tons of horrors, action, and a fair amount of humor. The visuals are stunning for the art and colors, with even the lettering contributing to the tone of this nail biter. Grey can’t return soon enough. 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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