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Mike Mignola has teamed with Troy Nixie to create this new Dark Horse mini-series, Jenny Finn. Mignola, famous for Hellboy, is writing the four issue series. Nixie, who directed the 2011 remake of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, is penciling the series. Another notable contributor is the Eisner Award-winning colorist Dave Stewart. Stewart has worked on Hellboy, DC: The New Frontier and The Walking Dead among many others.
The issue focuses on the new blights facing Victorian-era London. The first of which is the Jack the Ripper style killer targeting local prostitutes. The second being the plague-like phenomenon of men slowly turning into large masses of conjoined fish-like creatures.
The protagonist, Joe, is introduced as he spots a young Jenny Finn walking the streets. Concerned for her safety, he insists on walking her home. During their walk, a strange man spouting bible verses attacks them. Joe fights him off for a time, but he escapes after Jenny. Joe incites a mob believing the man is the infamous slasher.
After the mob chases the crazed man, Joe stumbles into an alley where he encounters a mob of ghosts. Distracted by the apparition, he stumbles into an abrasive well-dressed man. Seeing blood drip from the man’s hand, Joe discovers a blood trail. He follows the trail to the body of a dead prostitute. He reels back in disgust and confusion until he finds himself in a crowd of deformed men. They surround him and begin chanting to Jenny Finn until the mob from earlier rounds the corner.
Joe gets swept up in the chaos and the issue ends with him staring in horror as he realizes the mob has killed the crazed man.
The real strength of the book is in its setting. Victorian London provides a rich and vivid backdrop. More so the world of the story has its own history and feels like it has existed for years. This provides an engaging and evocative lens for the reader. It reads as a meandering glimpse into the reality of an actual physical place and time.
Additionally, the artwork is exceptional and captures a worn dirty aesthetic that bolsters its authenticity. Nixie seems to be a master at drawing ugly people without making them repulsive. While there are some disturbingly ugly people, it’s the menacing and disturbed characters that feel wrong. Moreover, the colors are an interesting showcase of vibrant drab that adds an albeit subtle character to the book.
While the book looks very good, the story is far from satisfying. It’s a confused and disjointed effort that is forgettable. Overall it’s a case of a bland set-up that fails to entrance the reader. For instance, the killings and the disease that is tearing through London feel like they’re from two different stories. Furthermore, the story is riddled with stand-in cliches that feel like they were copied and pasted. The fiendish killer and the strange mysterious woman.
The characters are little help as the Joe is a blank slate with no motivation or development. He stumbles through the entire plot and feels almost inconsequential, even though he’s a vital piece of the story. He reads like a bad sidekick, that gets tacked onto an aging series to keep it going. The real crime of it is that Jenny Finn, the title character, is hardly present.
She makes what can only be called a gracious cameo. This is only sharpened by the fact that she is infinitely more interesting than the actual main character. I’m left wanting a story about her, which granted will most likely be the focus of the series, but I can only judge what’s available. And that really isn’t much.
The problem with this story isn’t that it’s absurdly bad, but that I expected more out of this writer. Mignola is one of the most original and engaging writers of modern comics, yet this is a boring uninventive story. All I can really say is that this comic is just disposable entertainment in all the worst ways.