Edward Grey returns once again in Witchfinder: Mysteries of Unland #2, penned by Kim Newman and Maura McHugh, with art by Tyler Crook. I quite enjoyed the first issue of the new arc, which had a nice amount of exposition and set a clear tone for the world. Going into the second issue, I had one primary concern on my mind- could they move past the exposition and into the meat of the mystery?
Indeed, Newman and McHugh have.
Mysteries of Unland #2 continues mere hours after the end of the first issue, Grey shrewdly keeping his supernatural encounters close to his vest as he continues to investigate a bizarre countryside swamp village. Interviewing residents, probing an archaic tonic factory, and touring an eel museum (a popular destination I'm sure). The narrative is brisk and heavily dialog oriented, which works out well due to the diverse cast of characters and the unique voice each character respectively receives. Delineating “exposition,” from “rising action,” in a mystery tale can be difficult at times, but I do believe that the regular scene changes lend themselves more towards a sort of editorial action, rather than an atmospheric exposition. With each scene change we are provided with key information (clues, perhaps) about the world and its occupants, which in the case of a mystery, is a core plot conceit.
Crook's art remains brushy and calligraphic, this time let off the chain with far more expressive facial features than I remember from issue one. The backgrounds were, likewise, noticeably more diverse than in the previous issue, which serves the narrative well. Dave Stewart's colors are, it should go without saying, incredible throughout. I was particularly pleased to see even greater physicality in his rendering, with a few beautiful moments in the bigger color swaths. The happy, alchemical accidents of watercolor drying on paper make a lively complement to Crook's mark making.
With an increased emphasis on the supernatural than the first issue, and a great selection of settings and characters, Mysteries of Unland #2 does not disappoint. Horror is a challenging genre regardless of the medium, and mystery perhaps even more so. Interjecting cheap thrills, gross-outs, and vagaries is incredibly easy, but crafting a well-rounded narrative that gives you chills and leaves you wanting more? A very hard task indeed. The creative team behind the title continue to impress, and even now, I eagerly await issue number three.