Mike Mignola and Guy Davis are probably best known as co-conspirators in the outstanding comic series B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense). Fans of the series know that Guy Davis’ chaotic style suits Mignola’s sinister and apocalyptic storylines perfectly. The two are just about my favorite one-two punch in comics today. However, in this instance, both had worked separately to deliver two outstanding books that are full of the awe-inspiring writing and artistry we’ve come to expect. Catching up on these older titles (these are from the late 90’s – early 2000’s), I’m disappointed I didn’t read Mignola’s Jenny Finn: Doom Messiah, and Davis’ The Marquis, a lot sooner. Even though Mignola and Davis crafted them without each other, they make excellent companions to one another. I read them back-to-back and was sorry to finish both.
JENNY FINN: DOOM MESSIAH
Jenny Finn: Doom Messiah
Written by: Mike Mignola
Illustrated by: Troy Nixey
Publisher: Oni Press/Boom Studios (2008)
There is no doubt in my mind that Mike Mignola (B.P.R.D., Hellboy) is a genius. Working like a literary quilt-maker, he patches bits from all manners of folklore, epic poems, horror tales, history, pulp detective fiction, and super hero comics into stories that seem carried over from a forgotten age. Even though Mignola may “borrow” from so many types of literature, his ideas are presented in a fresh, vibrant, and best of all, scary manner. Mike Mignola has his own distinctive voice, one that is poetic and twisted, yet still loyal to the stories many of us grew up reading.
Collaborating again with prolific comic illustrator Troy Nixey (Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham), the two have concocted an ode that fits comfortably on the shelf alongside the works of HG Wells and Herman Melville, as well as a number of speculative fiction and horror tales. With a huge nod to HP Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth, the comic is draped in the aesthetic of a debauched Victoria-era England, full of drunks, rampant street fighting, prostitutes, and a plethora of illicit activities.
Someone or something has been killing prostitutes near the harbor and investigations by the authorities provide no answers. Young Jenny Finn patrols the streets of London attending to the poor, meek, and drunk who have acquired a strange condition giving them lesions that resemble fish-like scales or worse. She may be a prostitute herself, and a mysterious aura pervades her that provokes the men to call out to her as if possessed. Mysterious fish call out “Doom” on the streets, and pretty quickly, bodies begin piling, falling victim to horrible creatures. The story has mystery, apocalyptic implications, lots of cool fish-human creatures, and Mignola’s always stunning, poetic prose. Very much worth a look!
The Marquis: Inferno (collects Danse Macabre & Intermezzo)
Written & Illustrated by: Guy Davis
Publisher: Oni Press/Dark Horse (Collected Edition 2009)
Guy Davis is lauded for his superior illustration work in the comic pantheon, but you may be surprised to learn that he is also a superb writer. Having picked up a recent re-print of his excellent graphic novel series The Marquis, I am not at all surprised that he received the highest of praise not only from critics, but also his fellow comic artists and writers. The Dark Horse edition includes the arcs Danse Macabre and Intermezzo, concept art, as well as two versions of Les Preludes, and an intro by Mike Mignola.
The Marquis is ambitious, provocative, full of monsters, and best of all, compelling. It’s written at a level held only by the most regarded names in writing, and succeeds in being wholly original, historic, and horrifying. Written and drawn to the point of obsession, the chaos and fires of hell emanate from the page, drawn by Davis’ deft hand.
The decadent citizens of Venisalle, France in the 18th Century are plagued by a rash of murders. Rampant sin and chaos abound as devils escaped from hell inhabit the bodies of the people, driving them to murder and suicide. The Grand Inquisitor rules with a cross and an iron, spiked fist, imprisoning and torturing anyone displaying lack of “faith”. Together with the secular Inspector General, they seek the whereabouts of a mysterious dark presence known only as The Marquis.
The Marquis is a conflicted soul believing he was sent by the Saints to rid the world of devils. A former Inquisitor, he discovers that he was actually sent by Hell itself to return the souls to the devil king. Equipped with weapons forged in hell, he battles the demons with a vehemence that borders on self-hatred.
The Marquis goes beyond merely being a demon hunter vs. demons horror story. It delves deep into the terrifying history of Catholic rule over the world, and the despots who were in control at the time. It’s also the tale of personal struggle as The Marquis and the Inspector General struggle with their own moral compasses, their complicity in violence, and the depth of their own souls. For quite a dark endeavor, The Marquis is a very enlightening read.
The Marquis was planned as a finite series, but hasn’t yet come to a conclusion. However, it’s been announced on Guy Davis's Marquis blog that a new arc will return with The Marquis and the Midwife, published by Dark Horse in 2011.