COMIC REVIEW: Mr Higgins Comes Home

Mike Mignola’s latest horror one-shot is a rather charming affair. Drawn by Warwick Johnson- Cadwell (Lovecraft Anthology 2, Sold State Tank Girl) and written by Mignola, Mr Higgins Comes Home plays with genre conventions in a nod to Hammer Horror from the 1970s.

Preparations begin at Castle Golga for the annual festival of the undead, as a pair of fearless vampire killers question a man hidden away in a monastery on the Baltic Sea. The mysterious Mr. Higgins wants nothing more than to avoid the scene of his wife’s death, and the truth about what happened to him in that castle.

Indeed, before the story begins Mignola name drops Dracula, the glorious Twins of Evil and his all-time favorite vampire film, Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers. Which is slightly odd, as the page before makes a suggestion towards the classic Nosferatu (1922), particularly Max Schreks’ iconic Count Orlok.

As with all good stories Mr Higgins Comes Home is set a long time ago, and as expected, somewhere between the Carpathians and the Black Sea. Professor Meinhart is woken in the night by the aforementioned Orlok-like vampire. But he’s not fussed and chases the monster away. He’s on his way to destroy the creatures of the night as they celebrate Walpurgis – the Devil’s own night. The next day, our Professor visits the enigmatic Mr Higgins who has sought sanctuary in a monastery. There’s a mention of him attacking sheep. Higgins tells the story of his younger days when he visited the vampire’s castle, and the tragedy that befell him. Before long – the book is fairly short – we’re in the castle on the darkest of nights and we learn Higgins’ secret – which concludes in a bleak comment on the futility of it all – maybe specifically the futility of fighting our internal monsters.

Can a horror comic be charming? In this case, certainly. The story is fairly straight forward with a couple of nice amusing moments (the Devil’s night sacrifice scene for example, or the hidden gun), but it is definitely a homage to all of Mignola’s loves and influences. Johnson- Cadwell’s art is full of nods and winks, as already alluded to. It also features a black goat somewhat akin to Black Philip in 2005’s The Witch and a demonic carriage driver right out of a Tim Burton animation. I was also reminded of the Vincent Price/Roger Corman take on The Masque of the Red Death (1964). The art itself has the peculiar feel of a Mignola comic but drawn by someone who loves the detail in Gothic horror. The inside of the castle is as spooky and laden with creepy portraits, wall-mounted axes, stags-heads and candelabra’s as you’d expect. The monsters are all thin and angular in their human form, while the humans are mostly rotund.

The panelling is fairly traditional and the dialogue often sparse, allowing plenty of room for the sumptuous and detailed artwork. You can see the pain on Higgins’ face and horror in the world. So while definitely charming and sometimes amusing, Mr Higgins Comes Home has genuine moments of darkness, pathos and shock. It does examine our inner demons and it doesn’t pull any punches. It is a lovely thing to behold, if a horror comic book can be said to be lovely. If you like the darkness…

Publication Date: October 18, 2017

Title: Mr Higgins Comes Home

Publisher: Dark Horse

Rating: 4/5

Reviewer: Ian J Simpson

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