The third issue of “Witchfinder: Reign of Darkness” brings us the best issue in this mini-series yet. Unfortunately, that isn’t saying much. While this issue reunites the reader with another fan favorite from the Hellboy universe, as well as introduces more supernatural revelations, it’s still not so good as to make the series wholly recommendable.
After consulting Panya about the Ripper case and Asquith’s suspicious connections with the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra, the Witchfinder sneaks into the Brotherhood’s temple. But he’s completely unprepared for the informant he finds there! Meanwhile, a turn in Sarah Jewell’s undercover operation in Proserpine Home suddenly makes her search for the truth much more urgent.
Writing & Plot
“Reign of Darkness” #3 has the most engaging script thus far in the series. This is all due to the issue’s full embracing of the supernatural elements of the universe it inhabits, as well as the introduction of everyone’s favorite Victorian mummy, Panya. The sinister nature of the Whitechapel murders and their supernatural connection is teased through twist encounters and a steadily intensifying B-plot. This is all a welcome change, even if it’s over halfway through this thus-far inconsistent series. The dialogue has improved slightly as well, as most revelations are given in plot events and not walls of text. Grey still mostly explains things at his contemporaries here which still can make it a bit dull, but overall this is a more well-written issue than the previous two.
The unusual art choices made in “Reign of Darkness” are still here in the third issue, although much like the writing it seems to have slightly improved. The penciling remains just descript enough to identify the main human characters, and actually has the chance to shine with the reintroduction of Panya. The streets of Victorian London still look suitably foggy and gray thanks also to the colorwork. The strange “half-rendered” look still applies to the normal characters, but fortunately this is at least assisted in this issue by solid work on the supernatural characters and environments.
“Witchfinder: The Reign of Darkness” #3 is an improvement in terms of both writing and art over the prior two issues of this mini-series. The intensifying of the murder case alongside the firm introduction of the Hellboy universe‘s supernatural elements makes for a more engaging read, although it is still held back by some overwritten dialogue and strange artistic choices. Though this is a solid issue, it may not be enough the make this a part of the Hellboy universe really worth exploring.