Witchfinder: Mysteries of Unland #5

by Forrest.H on October 16, 2014

The mysteries of Unland revealed, finally.

Writers: Kim Newman, Maura McHugh
Artist: Tyler Crook 
Publisher: Dark Horse

The ending of any Mignolaverse arc is always so bittersweet. Mignola, and the people he's employed to help craft his world, create textured, layered and complex pieces of not only art but of mythology that truly has no equal in this craft and possibly in fiction at all.  These are pieces that demand and reward multiple reads, pieces that make a statement but then, bittersweetly, end. Edward Grey's time in Unland was no different: a slithery and sopping exploration in the far reaches of The Queen's lands. Those lands, that Sir Edward has sworn to protect even when it may mean the end of a town and way of life itself. A hero to the last, Edward will sacrifice his ideals in some unexpected ways to do what he sees best for Unland.

Newman and McHugh really grasp what Witchfinder should be about: strength and courage in the face of infinite and timeless evils and, ultimatley, the sacrifices that even the strongest of us have to make. Edward Grey is a man of substance, a man of that strength and courage needed, a man marred by sacrificing and witnessing sacrifices as a hero must. Newman and McHugh fully understand Grey and, they bring that man to life in deeply rewarding ways. That being said, I don't know that I, nor Grey, nor these writers totally understand the story they were trying to tell the same way. The ending of this issue is rushed, satisfying yes, but rushed. It may have been the constraint of the pages, it may have been the establishment of too many characters to offer a solid end for them all, I won't pretend to know, but it all happens too fast to seem entirely authentic even though it is imensely cool and perfectly "Mignola". Unland itself was alive (and horrifying in the best ways), Grey himself is alive (and complex in the best ways)  but, the other characters are kind of lost in the fray in a way that removes any lasting emotional impact even with a sacrifice of such symbolic deepness. It's not to say that you will feel robbed or anything, because you won't as you read this, it's a strong, satisfying end but, it lacks the unraveling feeling that the previous four issues of this arc so perfectly captured. 
Crook's art, though, sets itself apart yet again in a stellar way. A small town, an obscure town, a town with a horrible secret and, all perfectly established here. Crook's designs, movements and literal fluidity, bring this slithering beast to life. The eels of Unland are nothing to mock, they are terrifying and powerful beasts that demand an awe-inspiring respect and fear. They slither, writhe and snake their way into every gasp for air in this book and, it works. Grey and his compatriots are rightfully terrified as they confront such monstrosities perfectly brought to life by Crook. Like Grey, this issue's art is strong even in darkness. 

A strong Edward Grey book for sure, but possibly not the best Mignola book. Mysteries of Unland is a scary and special beast that holds water in the world of Mignola and establishes itself as an important part of the lively, complex, rich and deep mythology even if its ending did come a little too quickly. 

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