Reviews: Witchfinder returns with The Gates of Heaven

Published On May 24, 2018 | By Joe Gordon | Comics, Reviews

Sir Edward Grey Witchfinder: the Gates of Heaven,

Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson, D’Israeli, Clem Robins, Michelle Madsen,

Dark Horse Comics

It’s always a pleasure to have any new Mike Mignola works to read, and in the case of this new series featuring his Victorian gentleman investigator of odd things for the Crown, Sir Edward Grey, he is joined by regular collaborator Chris Roberson (always a good thing) and, joy of joys to an old 2000 AD hand like me, by our own excellent D’Israeli on art duties (always a splendid thing).

We open with a guarded underground chamber in the Tower of London in 1884, the imposing door flanked by a pair of Yeoman Warders. When they hear a noise from the chamber behind the door they are perplexed – there is only one way in, down the stairs and past them through that door. Investigating one sees an apparition, affording D’Israeli to indulge in a wonderfully comic expression on one warder’s face as he exclaims “Blimey!”, in a moment that is almost Ealing comedy.

The chamber they were guarding contains various occult or supernatural artefacts, all gathered by the authorities and kept safe in the Tower under Crown authority. At least until now – as well as seeing a spectre, the Yeoman noticed the figure seemed to be holding something. When Sir Edward arrives he suspects that something may be from the collection, and on checking inventory he is proved correct. When a second unusual item is stolen, this time from the British Museum, as well as a missing artefact there is a body, badly mutilated.

As he continues to investigate and ponder any links between the cases, Sir Edward is somewhat taken aback to find a second group of investigators beating him to the scene of the second incident, a group from Oxfor investigating on behalf od the British Paranormal Society, and including among their number a Simon Bruttenholm – an ancestor of Hellboy’s Professor Bruttenholm, one wonders? It’s not a common surname so it seems likely and that’s a nice touch for fans of the expanded Hellboy universe. Sir Edward also receives a summons from the highers-up – in this case as high up as you can get in the high-water mark of the Victorian-era British Empire. This case, it seems involves not only more than he suspects but is also of great delicacy and danger to the realm…

It’s a cracking opening issue – ghosts, thefts of strange artefacts, connections to the wider Hellboy-verse, murder, eccentric scientists and conspiracies and secrets at the very highest level of Imperial-era British government, which even a man in Edward’s position knew nothing of: “You are not the only servant of ours who labours in the shadows, Sir Edward.” All of this wrapped up in D’Israeli’s art which is a mixture of fitting to the established Witchfinder and Hellboy looks while retaining elements of his own stylings, like a cross between the Mignolaverse style and touches of his own Stickleback. Intriguing…

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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