Paul Tobin is a very thoughtful writer and that’s what makes for immersive work like, “The Witcher,” his latest comic with Dark Horse Comics. Tobin is a seasoned pro who has written for all the great superheroes. He has a keen mind that likes to play so it makes sense he’d want to see what happens when you set a story in the Middle Ages and throw together the fates of a warlock and a hunter.
The fact that this story is based on The Witcher, the massively popular game is just like icing on the cake. You don’t have to know anything about the game to enjoy this comic. In fact, this story does not feel connected to anything else but the story to be told, which is exactly what we want.
The Black Forest is where we find these two. The hunter has just hunted. Pretty basic. And then something not so basic happens. A warlock, or “witcher,” appears on a horse and, after nearly giving the hunter a heart attack, proves he can be good company. A little wine. A little talk. What could be wrong with that? One thing could prove a problem. The hunter is haunted by his wife’s ghost, who is partial to keeping close watch over him, preferably from a tree or a nearby hill. You know, typically creepy disrespect of boundaries.
Joe Querio’s artwork in this comic is right in step with Tobin’s poetic horror. And it speaks well to a distinctive Dark Horse approach to horror. This is the sort that lingers and makes you wonder. We get some nicely paced chills as Marta, the hunter’s dead wife appears and disappears: one moment a immovable fixture on a hill and the very next as irretrievable as vapors burning off that same hill.
Tobin delights in giving his characters voice and substance. He does this by taking care with what each reveals in conversation. And he adds to the sense of a bigger picture expanding beyond the page by approaching some conversations already in progress and just lifting out some choice bits for added color.
We aren’t supposed to know the witcher, and much less the hunter, in any great detail. But we are definitely encouraged to care about them. Tobin treats his story, and his characters, with respect. There is no filler to be found here. Like a warlock, this writer knows how to cast his spells. And I wouldn’t be surprised if you may end up learning quite a lot more about these seemingly gruff no-nonsense men. Perhaps the hunter’s dead wife will make sure of that.
“The Witcher #1” is 32 pages, priced at $3.99, and available as of March 19. Visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.