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Horror comics icon Mike Mignola and writer Christopher Golden, along with artist Peter Bergting, colorist Michelle Madsen, and letterer Clem Robins bring us another turbulent paranormal tale from the Outerverse with Cojacaru The Skinner #1. Despite being bogged down by needless narration, this is still a sharply written and wickedly fast paced issue with engaging lore, intense and brutal action, and fantastically grim artwork that stands up to the Mignola name.
“Cojacaru the Skinner, the strange and enigmatic bane of Eastern European witches, has been dead many years. But from a bloodied French town in the throes of World War II, a plea for help carries across the winds of time. A desperate band of resistance soldiers and their white witch allies rest their fate in the hands of Cojacaru’s ghost. And when she answers their call, it will be heard near and far.”
Writing & Plot
Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s script for “Cojacaru The Skinner” #1 reads and feels much like many other Mignola comics. It’s full of its own lore and storytelling, using both narration and character dialogue to build both the rules of this world and the characters themselves. This shares a universe with Baltimore and Joe Golem, so many of the supernatural elements are already known to readers of this comic, but in true Mignola fashion there can never be enough magic and monsters. The concept of World War II soldiers fighting against Nazi aligned evil witch coven with the help of good witch covens and their ancient allies (as our titular is) is the type of Mignola-style paranormal goodness that I will never tire of.
What does get tiring here though is the unnecessarily bloated narration of the lieutenant of the allied soldiers charged with taking on these 3rd Reich sorceresses. Narration in the form of journal notes is nothing new in comics – especially in Mignola comics. Hell, I even think it works more often than not. However, after reading through these notes numerous times, it becomes clear that they don’t accomplish anything for the story that the artwork doesn’t handle on its own.
Luckily, it only sticks around for the first third or so of the comic, but it’s still a detractor. The script is mostly praiseworthy outside of this, with the stakes and terror being felt from the opening page. The mystery of who Cojacaru is, as well as her arrival on the battlefield, is full of weight and intrigue while not giving away much about the character herself. Outside of the narration issues, this is a wholly solid read and the exact kind of tale you’d expect from a Mignola book.
If a comic is going to have Mike Mignola’s name on the cover, then it has to look the part. Fortunately for Cocjacaru The Skinner #1, artist Peter Bergting is on hand to deliver the exact sort of creepy and unique design shared amongst the other Outerverse and Mignolaverse series. Bergting’s thick, heavy pencils and dense shadows fill out the designs of his characters both human and witch with an unsettling edge that sells this comic’s atmosphere.
His designs for the invading witches are a work of some level of body horror, with their wiry and gaunt designs meshing with their uncanny movements distorted facial features. The architecture of wartime Europe is highly detailed as well, and sets the tone for this comic as a desolate and bombed-out backdrop. Michelle Madsen’s colors work wonders here as well, with the drab color palette coming alive in tandem with Bergting’s pencils.
Her red skies and mottled buildings, as well as her colors on the human characters contrasting with the dead skin of the witches, plants the reader firmly in this comic’s atmosphere. The sudden flashes of magical lightning are a shocking contrast to the decay and death in most of the book, and really sell the power of Cojacaru’s importance and power. Letterer Clem Robins uses the same font found in basically every other Mignola comic, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The visual work on this issue is up to par with just about every other comic I’ve read with Mignola’s name on the cover.
Cojacaru The Skinner #1 is a fast paced and engaging comic issue, with fantastic visuals and tons of lore to get into. The script may be a bit bogged down by needless narration, but it makes up for it in its pacing and carefully laid world building. The visuals from Peter Bergting and Michelle Madsen are grim, creepy, and brutal in just the way this story and any Mignola comic deserves. Be sure to grab this issue when it hits shelves on 4-21!