Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #1
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by John Severin and Dave Stewart
Letters by Clem Robbins
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Review by Scott Cederlund
It’s amazing how much Mike Mignola can make us not miss seeing his artwork on a regular basis. With Hellboy, he visually created a world that was unique to his artwork but Guy Davis, Duncan Fegredo, Richard Corben, Ben Stenbeck have taken Mignola’s creations and expanded his stories in ways that Mignola never would have thought to in his own art. He has opened up his stories and given them to other artists, some of who share style and storytelling sensibilities with him and others who tell stories in ways that Mignola never could. No one is going to mistake a page by Guy Davis or Richard Corben as something that Mike Mignola could draw. This week in comics, he’s letting two more artists play around in his creations as Scott Hampton is drawing Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead. Even more exciting though is classic EC, Warren, Marvel and Mad artist John Severin stepping in to draw Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #1.
After having their first Witchfinder miniseries be about a Victorian horror story, Mignola and co-writer John Arcudi take their 1880-era paranormal expert Edward Grey and put him on the hunt in Utah, in a frontier town where there is no law and everyone watches each other’s back. Tracking down his own fugitive, he finds himself stumbling upon a mystery where everyone in a church one day just mysteriously vanished. The local’s say that Satan took them as “he kicked the Lord out of his own house” but Grey thinks there may be a connection between his man and these shadowy events.
The story is suitably moody and full of action, like most of Mignola and Arcudi’s stories. They establish a nice supernatural mystery. While it may not yet have the gravitas of Hellboy or the characters of B.P.R.D., Mignola and Arcudi write a fun western story, showing a wild frontier where law didn’t exist. Adding in the supernatural elements to it takes us back to some familiar Mignola/Arcudi ground as they create a western supernatural story.
While the story feels like an interesting blend of something old/something new for the writing duo, getting John Severin to draw the story makes this issue something special. Over his long and distinguished career, Severin has proven time and time again that he can draw almost anything but the man shines even 60 years after his first EC story was published. Severin has a grit to his drawing, creating heroes and villains through texture and expression. His artwork is the complete opposite of Mignola’s. Where Mignola is moody, dark and hidden, Severin is solid, fluid and descriptive. He takes the world that’s been so established to exist in shadow and secrecy and gives its past a concrete figure. Everything is fully formed and detailed, from the stage coach that brings Grey to Utah to the tracker to helps Grey escape a bar fight.
You know how you sometimes see older artists working in comics today who just sadly aren’t capable of the artwork they once did on a monthly basis? Well, that’s not Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #1 as John Severin proves that he can still deliver fantastic artwork, with the same skill and detail that he has always possessed. He brings yet another different feel to the world that Mike Mignola created.