Wednesday Comics Review: Secret Six #30 and Witchfinder #1

Posted by February 2, 2011 Comment

Witchfinder: Lost And Gone Forever #1 is the new comic written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi and drawn by John Severin and Dave Stewart. So what do you get if you cross Mignola and Severin? You get a supernatural western horror. And a drop dead gorgeous one at that. Very much the most beautiful book of the week.

The book itself feels it fits an existing structure like a rubber stamp. Heroic man comes into town hunting for a man, finds a town shrouded in mystery and ends up encountering a threat to his life. It’s the details of voodoo mythology, Native American Christians, and a proper monster that give the book a little more life. It’s like an episode of House, the structure is each is so mind numbingly the same, you cling to whatever difference lifts one week from the next. Here’s hoping that the book goes on a deviation from the standard western plot as well as in the details. Hellboy and BPRD have been gloriously odd. This, from the first issue, is not, wth only the last page to give some hope.

Secret Six #30 by Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore was meant to be part two of a Doom Patrol crossover. But Doom Patrol is late so now this comic is… part one. I have no idea how that is meant to work, there’s no sign of excessive nonlinear storytelling, but there you go.

Gail has evolved a style of writing company comics that feels very similar to that of Peter David. The injoke used to both flatter and titillate the reader, we start this issue inside the DCU Online. And then we experience the dropping in of plenty of plotlines to weave around each other, each picking a tone and the undermining it.

So we’re straight into Wanted territory as a young man going nowhere in life rapidly inherits a fortune and weapons from an elderly relative who was secretly a supervillain, and devises a murderous plan along his own genre preferences, with all his D&D friends.

And we have Bane trying hard to fit into society, adored for his body, yet unable to engage in the most basic of social intercourse without, well, trying to have intercourse. And then hit someone’s face off.

Doom Patrol are treated very lightly, putting Cliff in fishing gear and making him stand in the middle of a river, fishing, while Ambush Bug clowns around. Oh and then Rita loses half a leg.

Sorry for the spoiler there, but seriously, this is the third comic I’ve read today with a major amputation in it. Is this Amputation Wednesday or something? You wait for ages, and then three come along all at once? Will I be able to read a comic without someone losing a limb? Seriously, people.

And then all the plots collide, with everyone’s interests all over the place, along with the quick witted quips. It’s always more fun to see someone fight when they are also criticising the others topless scenes.

It’s a clear, crisp art style from Jim Caliafiore which, while it struggles to convey depth or a presence on the page, but then there’s not that much depth and presence in the script. It’s seems a fun exercise in bouncing off some odd ideas, but there’s not enough room for them to breathe and gain depth, and we’re onto the next gag before the moment has registered. So much happens but so little of it seems to matter. This may be reflective of the twenty page count, but it’s also a common trait for this kind of writing style in this kind of crossover event. Things have to happen, the gags get us there smoothly, but it won;t stay with you.

Witchfinder has more of a chance, its moments are lingered upon and it builds up to an end of episode surprise that has impact. Secret Six, you should enjoy while reading, but there’s less of an opportunity for it to stay with you.

Review copies are courtesy of Orbital Comics, London. Check out their signing this Saturday with Skullkickers‘ Jim Zubkavich.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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