Sir Edward Grey: Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels
This was an enjoyable and beautifully drawn Victorian horror pastiche—I found Mignola surprisingly adept at a pre-Ripper London which bore more resemblance to The Strange Case of Spring Heel’d Jack radio plays than to steampunk Victoriana like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Mignola acknowledges his debt to Bram Stoker, but much of this is recognizably Mignola—unmistakably so. Stenbeck has matched his art style to mirror the pages of Hellboy, though the references to Hood, the 17th century Witchfinder General based on the real one, Matthew Hopkins, brings a flavor of The Scarifyers to the proceedings.
My favorite part of this was Mary Wolf, the cheesecloth/ectoplasm medium-in-a-box who was actually a real medium. The visual styling fit perfectly, and it was a nice antidote to Affinity. The Captain was the most original character in the story, claiming to be 200 years old and the real Gulliver of Gulliver’s Travels (Swift wrote him out, something you can easily believe of Swift in his cantankerous latter years). He was from the Peter Cushing mould, and his young sidekicks, Salt and Bacon, seemed benevolent versions of the two hoods from, once again, The Strange Case of Spring-Heel’d Jack. Grey himself was long-suffering. The Heliotrope Society was a much more sinister one than poor old Namin in the country house conjuring up Sutekh.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, for me at least the least moving bit was the monster, a demon from an ancient civilization in the Hollow Earth, whose disconnect from corporeal form made it very inconsistent indeed. Still, the civilization before time whose crumbling city was lost in the Sahara could do with another outing.
The citations were a baffling jumble of the real—a Milton quotation that left me quite impressed—and the Mignola canon.
The only thing I can complain about was the end, which was laughably sudden and certainly the story deserved something more.