The old school Edward Grey is back on another case from the 1800’s. Is it good?
Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland #1
The story begins with Grey being pouty about receiving an assignment beneath his substantial investigative abilities. The case he has been commissioned for appears to be a simple murder, but it comes from the Queen herself… meaning that he has no option but to take it.
As you may have guessed, however, things are not simple at all. Grey is sent to Hallam, the town that manufactures a popular health elixir. The murdered subject was there previously by order of the crown to investigate it, hence why the case has received such scrutiny.
Edward Grey: Complaining about routine investigative work before Fox Mulder made it cool.
Supernatural hints are sprinkled throughout his time in the town along with tales of an inbred, backwards village being transformed into a commercial/industrial utopia via the benefit of the elixir’s manufacturing and sales.
Later, the local constable doles out his own ridiculous theory on the murder. After Grey shows him to be completely full of it (and comes across an actual clue himself), the lawman express dismay at having a ‘spook’ assigned to such a serious investigation.
Right about here is where the giant eels show up, giving us a chilling action sequence while confirming that something terribly evil does indeed lurk in the town of Hallam…and Grey is determined to find out what it is.
Is It Good?
I’ll admit to not being very well-versed in Mignola’s universe. I am, however, a huge fan of Lovecraftian horror, which this most definitely nails in pace in tone. The story is a slow burn, filled with fascinating characters while exploring the rotting form of evil that can often hide beneath the more mundane and backwards part of this world.
The art work by Tyler Crook is a perfect match, giving the story a classic feel while still rendering the actions sequences fluidly. The story by Kim Newman and Maura McHugh could have probably used a bit more foreshadowing before the big reveal near the end, but it’s still off to a fantastic start.