The conclusion to Sir Edward Grey’s sojourn in the American Wild West brings up an interesting question: how can a Christian do battle with supernatural forces, and retain his faith?
There are two conflicts in this series. The first is the obvious battle between the supernatural witch-child Eris with her legions of the living dead against the human duo of Sir Edward Grey, Royal Witchfinder to the Queen and his companion Morgan Kaler, a buckskin-wearing cowboy. In this fight, the winner is never in question. Eris can launch wave after wave of her armies will little worry, while Grey and Kaler can only respond by putting lead bullets in bodies that no longer feel pain. The second battle is waged on a spiritual plane.
The oil-and-water of Indian Shamanism mixed with Western Christianity causes an imbalance in Eris’ chief ally. She resurrected the spirit of the Indian shaman Kaipa and put it in the body of a dead Christian priest. So now Kaipa is both of these faiths, and yet neither. He has tremendous power, but no moral guide on how best to use it. Meanwhile Grey, a devout Christian, refuses to acknowledge Eris and Kaipa’s power source, convinced that Eris is nothing more than just another witch to be taken down. And then there is Kaler, who adds one of the most interesting themes. Kaler is a hard-edged cynic who believes in nothing, which ends up being his greatest strength. Eris is a goddess who needs people to believe in her. Eris can hurt him, but not conquer him. Because he does not believe in her.
I loved how Mignola and Arcudi are playing with these themes. It makes Sir Edward Grey a much richer character than someone like Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane, who uses his Christian faith as a blunt weapon and is unshakeable in his conviction no matter how many African gods he encounters. When I read the first Witchfinder series I thought that Sir Edward Grey was going to be fun, but a one-note character. Lost and Gone Forever shows that Mignola and Arcudi are developing him beyond his origins.
As always, the art in Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever is stunning. John Severin is an artist from the golden age of EC comics, and his draftsmanship is astounding. This kind of fine art-inspired line work has all but disappeared from modern comics, which are more focused on style than just good drawing. Dave Stewart’s perfect coloring brings out every fine line and gives them depth and feeling. With his zombies and horror elements, Severin seems to have a bit of Richard Corbin in him, although give the eras when they began it is probably more correct to say that Corbin as a bit of John Severin in him. Severin’s prairie scenes are also particularly impressive. In one shot, Grey finds himself in the Indian Happy Hunting Ground, and as he surveys the idyllic landscape he is awestruck and can only say, “Blessed M’Lord, it’s so beautiful.” I cannot help but agree.