Falconspeare, review: an intense but very short story

Falconspeare, review: an intense but very short story

Falconspeare, review

The wake of the mysterious stories signed by Mike Mignola continues with Falconspeare, a comic made in collaboration with Warwick Johnson-Cadwell for the drawings, in which yellow and horror mix briefly but intensely. Falconspeare is in fact a small horror adventure published by Panini Comics which narrates the exploits of a group of monster hunters in what could be defined as the literary "natural habitat" for this type of undertaking: the Victorian era. Led by James Falconspeare, the adventurers will have to find out what happened to their leader in the fifteen years he disappeared, but while we complete the investigation with them, this new work by Mignola fails to leave us fully satisfied.

Mike Mignola strikes again, but…

Falconspeare by Mignola and Johnson-Cadwell is part of a series of stories with a Victorian setting dealing with mystery, adventure and horror. As it was for Jenny Finn, of which we talked about some time ago, or for Mr. Higgins Comes Home and Our Encounters with Evil (from which some characters are taken), Falconspeare too therefore makes his own not only the topoi of gothic literature par excellence, but also places, characters, styles and language of the late nineteenth century. And it does not disappoint from a creative point of view, as it bears the unmistakable imprint of that typical Mignola way of narrating which has become so famous through Hellboy and which combines investigation, mystery, grotesque, gloom. Falconspeare is therefore certainly interesting, but has several gray areas.

The story is that of a group of friends, monster hunters by profession, united in the fight against the evil creatures that infest the world. Briefly introduced through their exploits against a frightening vampire, we jump to fifteen years later, when Professor Meinhardt, Mr. Knox and Ms. Mary Van Sloan are presented with a letter from a missing comrade: James Falconspeare, leader of the vanished group in the void for a long time. The letters are at least enigmatic and lead them far away, but thanks to them the adventurers are able to find Falconspeare, now guardian of a sinister secret that has changed him forever.

It's all here, and it's pretty intense too: dangerous and heroic feats, suspense, cursed and scary creatures , a secret to bring to light. Even the group of monster hunters is made up of interesting characters, a company in which each has its own specific skills and distinctive traits. If it weren't for the fact that all of this is exhausted within a few pages, it doesn't have time to mature and grow: the story contained in Falconspeare concludes by remaining in what appears to be an embryonic form or a barely hatched egg from which they time to come out just a beak and a wing. A short story, very short indeed: we are caught off guard by this dark and horror-tinged Victorian-style thriller, we say to ourselves "Hey, there's so much potential here!", but we don't have time to formulate this thought which is all already finished. And what could have been, remains suspended in the "ifs" and "maybe".

Mike Mignola's hand is there and it shows and it is necessary to strike a spear precisely in favor of its protagonist, James Falconspeare , whose high-sounding name reflects the noble and heroic soul while configuring himself as a damned, effective and impactful anti-hero. But we wonder why devise a narrative that could still have so much to say, show and make people feel and then feed it to the public in such a short and "incomplete" form? In short, the interest aroused by James Falconspeare and his fellow adventurers is real and sincere and in a parallel universe they would represent tempting material even for a film or serial production. But precisely: in a parallel universe, where Falconspeare has been expanded, developed, deepened.

Falconspeare: the graphic aspects

Generally the comic works written by Mike Mignola and drawn by other authors they leave a bitter taste in the mouth because, let's face it, Hellboy's father's style, however stylized and dark, is truly unique and suitable for the macabre narratives he signs. In this case, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell's line lends itself well to the adventurous dynamics in which Falconspeare's protagonists are involved and, despite its strong stylization, it knows how to capture well everyone's personality in gestures and expressions (with ironic notes here and there that transpire from the characters). Once again, however, we find ourselves wondering what this comic would have been like if Mignola had made it fully his own even on an illustrative level, without relegating his art to the mere cover, as also happened in the previous works of the same Victorian line. An art which, we recall, is made up of shadows and grotesque traits and which would fit perfectly on this type of story with a Victorian and mysterious soul: an aspect that is lost in this Falconspeare, through the illustrations by Johnson-Cadwell which are more brilliant , much less gloomy.

Perhaps it is the cover of Falconspeare that raises expectations: hardcover, with glossy elements, very dark and with a dark character, as only Mike Mignola's illustrations can be. It's a pity that it acts as a sad frame for a few pages, yes of excellent workmanship, but still small and unsatisfactory for the reason we were talking about just now: the story really doesn't last too long! On the other hand, this was also somewhat the case with Mr. Higgins Comes Home and Our Encounters with Evil: 56 pages each, 88 for the other and another 56 for Falconspeare. In short, one wonders if it hadn't been the case to enclose the narratives dedicated to these protagonists in a single volume, with more substantial dimensions and a semblance of continuity which, probably, would have made the perception of a sort of incompleteness feel less .

With similar stories and characters, the desire to read more is great and the hope that Mignola continues on his Victorian path is strong, provided that the protagonists mentioned so quickly and their daring adventures with the evil one are deepened and receive the development they deserve .

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