You may get a feeling that you are reading a Sherlock Holmes comic. The entire issue read like a Sherlock Holmes movie or book. The main character is essentially a detective like Sherlock and lives in London. Citizens use his abilities to investigate crimes and just like Holmes; Sir Edward investigates crimes or instances that others cannot seem to understand. Although the living dead is not something Sherlock would deal with, you still can’t get past that this is essentially a Sherlock Holmes story with the characters renamed. Sir Edward was given the nickname Witchfinder based on an investigation into what is similar to what the Salem witch trials were. There were rumors and sightings of witches, and Sir Edward decided he would see to the end the investigation into the witch sightings. As he would explain, they were all just misunderstandings, and there weren’t witches per say but rather groups of people that had different beliefs than what the iconic belief system was back in the 1880’s. Even though there was never really any witches, people still identified Sir Edward as the Witchfinder because to them he had stopped the witches from continuing their shenanigans. Up till the events that take place later in this issue, Sir Edward considers himself a logical man, but when the dead begin to rise and attack people, no amount of logic can help a person understand that.
As stated before, this reads exactly like a Sherlock Holmes story. It is as if Mignola and Roberson took some stories from the creator of Sherlock Holmes and created a similar character with hopes he would be a successful hit like his counterpart. Regarding creativity and originality, this falls short except for the zombies walking around, but it seems like zombies are in every other comic series so that aspect is not really original either, rather it sets itself apart from any Sherlock Holmes story. Sir Edward is a decent character, there is a good chunk of background information on him, but besides the Witch investigation, you do not get much in terms of his investigation style. It seems as if Mignola and Roberson are banking on getting a lot of Sherlock Holmes fans to jump on board. Personally, the Witchfinder just didn’t have that gusto that would make me want to commit to finding out the remainder of the story.
Besides the eerily similar character, and story style to that of Sherlock Holmes, the dialogue throughout the issue is actually solid. There is conflict, mystery, and surprises throughout which is a positive. The artwork that Stenbeck delivers is quite remarkable. He captures 1880’s London well, all the way from the buildings and architecture to the people’s clothing and even the cars. Stenbeck does an excellent job with character emotion and background. His style is dark and quite beautiful. Without the excellent artwork done by Stenbeck, the issue would have been very bland and probably deterred a lot of new readers from continuing into future issues.
Overall, not a bad first issue, but this is likely to be a series I will not be continuing. It just lacks a lot of creativity and is far too similar to Sherlock Holmes. If you are looking for a detective story, then give this a shot. The price tag is not going to break the bank, so if you are curious check out the first issue and if you do not like it, then you are only out a couple of dollars.
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Witchfinder: City of the Dead #1 Writer: Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson Artist: Ben Stenbeck Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.50 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital