Witchfinder: City of the Dead #1
Writer: Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson
Artist: Ben Stenbeck
Colourist: Michelle Madsen
Publisher: Dark Horse
A review by Amelia Wellman
From the occult comic series Hellboy comes Sir Edward Grey: occult adviser to Queen Victoria. In this new mini-series, City of the Dead, the Victorian supernaturalist is up against flesh-eating corpses that are somehow tied to a temple beneath London and the sinister Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra. What does the murderous cult want with them temple and Grey himself?
City of the Dead #1 is wordy, dour, and a little stuffy. It’s perfect for the Victorian setting of London in 1882! The time period feels right for this story of grave robbers becoming zombies and ancient, mysteries temples being found while London digs its subway system. What little action occurs in the comic is brief but it’s enough to answer some preliminary questions while raising more that while keep interests piqued.
I can’t say that I’m totally hooked on the story yet but I’ve never personally liked zombies. I don’t think there are many places you can take a zombie story that’s new. City of the Dead is trying to approach it from a necromancy and/or ancient magic angle, so here’s hoping some new zombie-related intrigue occurs on the dreary London streets. At the very least I’m interested with Sir Edward Grey as a character if the story has yet to grab me.
The art of City of the Dead is a lot like the story. The colours are washed out and dreary, never deviating far from grey and brown, but that adds to the story that’s being told instead of taking away. It fits the occult theme, the Victorian sensibilities, and the dinginess of London. The overall style is Hellboy-esque, appropriate with Sir Edward Grey coming from Hellboy. Faces are very expressive without being cartoony and shadows are used perfectly. While not the most detailed comic, it plays up what it needs to, when it needs to.
Wait and see. A good base has been laid in Witchfinder: City of the Dead #1 but as to where that base will go is still anyone’s guess. This could become just another zombie story or it could become something really innovative (think Afterlife with Archie). I’m a fan of Mike Mignola though, so I’m willing to wait.