Mr. Higgins Comes Home OGN – Mike Mignola

3 out of 5

A fairly average tale with a punchy climax is highlighted by the exuberant illustration work of Warwick Johnson-Cadwell.

Mike Mignola has excelled at finding and highlighting fresh artistic faces (or bringing established names into the fold) and bringing out their inner Mignola-ness.  It’s truly not that these artists lose their own styles, rather that Mike and his team seem capable of spotting some factor that would meld well with the world, and after working amidst Mike’s (and perhaps Guy Davis’) designs and writing style, the artists slowly pick up some Mignola-y tics.

I’d glanced at Warwick Johnson-Cadwell’s art on a Tank Girl series and figured he wasn’t for me, but maybe that was just a gut reaction to seeing a character I very much associate with a particular artist (i.e. Hewlett); leave it to a Mignola project to have completely flip-flopped my opinion, or, again, perhaps it’s seeing Johnson-Cadwell work on a character that has no visual precedent.  Whatever the case, the artist’s flat, highly stylized look is wonderful here, offset by an unusual – for this style – coloring scheme that properly emphasizes foreground and background and mood and very much grounds the more outlandish aspects of the illustrations.  So where excessive panel clutter might be overwhelming with this 2D-ish perspective, the proper palette balance between layers makes an enormous difference: the energy of the forefront characters is palpable, and we can absorb all of the painting and statues dotting the walls of the mansion we explore…

In Mr. Higgins Comes Home, monster hunsters Meinhardt and Knox entice the titular Mister to lead them to Castle Golgas – home of a Dracula type, and where Mr. Higgins lost his wife to the fiendish namesake – and put an end to not only Golgas, but all of the monsters gathering for Walpurgis.

Their plans are thwarted by Golgas’ own, and Mr. Higgins – revealed early on – has his own secrets that lead up to an uproariously violent and explosive (but rather humorous, in that Biff Bang Pow Hellboy fashion) conclusion.

Lacking the visual zest, though, there’s not very much to the narrative beyond explanatory setup and then a fight, and there’s the odd runaround of starting us with two potentially interesting characters while naming your book after a guy who almost feels like a side character…  Mignola, in a brief foreword, mentions Hammer horror as an influence, and that almost seems to be too much the case, here, as the plot hardly steps off of a particularly beaten track.  So for $15, the brevity and lightness of the story might not be exactly worth the price, but cost considerations aside, it’s definitely a fun read.