Writer/artist Mike Mignola’s “Hellboy” series of comics represent some of the most consistently excellent serialized fiction being produced today—and I’m not just talking comics. TV shows, novels, film franchises, video game series, books on tape, fucking old timey radio dramas…Mignola’s comics stand out as the best of the best amongst all of them. This isn’t just a matter of opinion, this isn’t hyperbole—this is fact. The release of each collection of Hellboy, B.P.R.D., or any one of the stand-alone character based miniseries draws the reader deeper into a strange, wonderful, terrifying world, with endearing characters, and marvelous, oddly subdued, storytelling.
What I’m trying to say is that I really love these comics you guys.
Part of what makes them so great, is as you read through them, you get the sensation that Mignola is really playing the long game—that he has planned out the history and intricacies of this universe, while at the same time never falling into the trap of overwhelming the reader with too much information. Most of it, he just lets float around in the background as flavor, occasionally pulling the odd morsel to the fore, and expanding it out into a full, rich tale. It is this that Mignola does with his newest “Hellboy” miniseries, Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels.
Witchfinder’s protagonist, Sir Edward Grey, first appeared way, way back in the second Hellboy volume Wake the Devil, in a single panel, mentioned off-handedly as a Victorian era paranormal investigator. Years later, he appeared as a flashback in the introduction to the Abe Sapien miniseries. Now, we have an entire tale recounting one of his earliest adventures. It’s kind of like uncovering some previously unknown piece of history, except instead of the Rosetta Stone or something like that, it’s a five issue story of a late nineteenth century English gentleman who once saved Queen Victoria from a demon with mouths in its hands.
Of course, part of what makes Witchfinder so good is that you don’t actually need to know any that in order to follow the story. Even if you’ve never read a Hellboy comic in your life, you’ll still be able to enjoy this Victorian era ghost story, replete with such exciting features as spiritualist mediums, secret societies, a man who claims to be the inspiration for Gulliver’s Travels, and what I’m pretty sure were steampunk tasers.
In short Witchfinder, has a little something for everyone, and if you’d like an introduction to one of the best series out there right now, I’d highly recommend picking it up.