Review – The Witcher: Witch’s Lament #1 (Dark Horse)

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Bartosz Sztybor
Artwork: Vanesa R. Del Ray, John Starr
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Lettering: Aditya Bidikar
Release Date: 26th May 2021

Upon the successful capture and execution of a witch, Geralt finds himself troubled by doubts and haunted by the ghost of the woman he has just condemned to the flames. Searching for his next coin, Geralt responds to a woman’s cry for help which sets him on a hunt for a missing child, but is it possible that the twists and turns that have brought him on this quest are merely manipulations of a dark and sinister mind?

So, I’ve played the Witcher games, I’ve watched Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Geralt in the TV show, but this is the first time I’ve sat down and read a Witcher comic, and you know what? I actually really enjoyed it.

This is a Dark Horse title, which perhaps suggests a specific aesthetic and tone that you expect, and from the start this new series absolutely has that feel. The opening pages are full of a dark, oppressive tension as Geralt witnesses the burning of the witch and the silent blank faces of the villagers watching the conflagration. There is darkness and shadow and harsh lines throughout that lend to the claustrophobic atmosphere as Geralt is drawn deeper into this trap, both in the narrative and the artwork laid out on the pages.

As I said, I’ve never read any of the previous Witcher stories so I have no point of reference as to how this compares, but as someone who is a huge fan of horror and fantasy titles, this is a story that actually hooked me from the very beginning. There are so many aspects of this issue where I found myself thinking “oh, that’s very like Wytches, or Harrow County, or Hellboy etc.” in terms of both the Storytelling and the artwork. That isn’t to say it’s derivative, it was just nice to find aspects of the story that I felt were as good as some other titles that I rate quite highly.

There is some really good art in this issue, however not everything lands completely. There are some panels that seem rushed or unfinished where the linework feels a bit sloppy, others where the colours are muddy or the shadow has been laid on so thick it feels like it’s been applied with a sharpie. That said, as a whole this is a solid first issue which is certainly elevated by the writing and some top notch lettering by the always excellent Aditya Bidikar.

As Dark Horse titles go, this is one that has tension, horror, fantasy and some really interesting character design. I really enjoyed reading this issue, and I’m pretty sure that I’ll read more Witcher, be it this story or its predecessors. However, as with a lot of Dark Horse titles outside the Mignolaverse it just doesn’t have the consistency, even within the pages of a single issue, that you’d hope for, and I’ve been waiting to be wowed by a new title from this publisher since the first arc of Harrow County hit the shelves six years ago.

At the end of the day, if you’re a fan of the series, this is worth a punt and it’s certainly good enough that I’ll pick up issue two but, I do feel that we aren’t getting the best that Dark Horse can publish here.

Rating: 3/5.


The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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