Wellington is drawn back to the mines where the Barghest was summoned. What lies beneath in this rural outpost? Find out in Wellington #5 from IDW Publishing!
Writer: Aaron Mahnke and Delilah S. Dawson
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
Colorist: Brad Simpson
Letterer: Valeria Lopez
Editor: Chase W. Marotz
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 2, 2020
Previously in Wellington: Arthur has learned that he is hunting a monster called the Barghest, a very elusive beast. He is also troubled by the fact that when he wounded it, his manservant (Fitz) suffered an injury that gave him the exact same wounds. He believes in Fitz’ loyalty, but he also has his doubts, which hurts the other man. A group of local men decide to hunt the Barghest that night at dusk; Wellington and Fitz both go along, as well as Minerva. In the area surrounding the mines, several horses become spooked and the hunt is mired in chaos. Arthur hears a noise and shoots, striking a white rabbit that then opens its eyes and hops off into the mines. Arthur follows and finds himself falling down a mineshaft!
FACING TO FACE WITH THE BARGHEST
Wellington #5 opens with Arthur falling, but we also see him in the present, narrating his story, a reminder that he did not die here. In fact, he finds himself suspended about a foot from the bottom of the shaft facing the white rabbit with glowing red eyes. He falls the last foot to the ground, grabs his sword, and strikes at the small creature, only to see it change shape into the form of a black dog. He strikes it with the hilt of his sword, and it reacts, before changing shape again, this time into a young woman. She warns him to leave her alone and, sensible person that he is, he merely shoots her.
She changes shape again, become the headless John Lambert of his dream a few issues ago, who attacks him. But Minerva arrives and dispatches him, leaving only a white cat. She urges him to kill it. She isn’t sure why, but Wellington seems to be the only thing the Barghest is scared of. He tries shooting it again, but it twists away until Minerva catches it. Then it tries a different tactic, changing shape into Kitty and pleading for love – to no avail; he stabs her. It changes to Olivia and then to Fitz. Finally, it assumes (presumably) its own form, that of a winged humanoid. It wants to make a deal with him – leave him alone and they can both get on with their business. Wellington will not give up, and shoots him again, to no avail. Minerva reminds him that he must find another way – human weapons will not work against him. But Minerva senses that someone has bound Wellington in some kind of protective magic.
He and Minerva make their way back out of the mines as the sun is rising. There is a hue and cry from some of the men who are still there. They saw a strange man come up out of the mines and run off. Fitz also fell – and all the wounds Wellington inflicted appear on him, killing him.
The art of Wellington #5 is striking. The settings are really good, with plenty of detail. None of the panels look bare. Being in the dark underground beneath the mines runs the risk of not having much color, but this is brought to life by subtle shifts of cool colors for the background, with the characters having some warmer tones. There are occasional dramatic flashes of light – green for magic; orange for gunfire – which also liven things up. But then the background changes to dawn in the remote countryside, and it is like a breath of fresh air. The sky in these several panels is just gorgeous.
For the most part, I like the depiction of the Barghest. As a rabbit, and later as a cat, it really looks unworldly, not just because of the red eyes, but also because of the way it holds itself. The first couple shape changes, going to the dog, then standing up and changing into a human, are quite compelling. We get a distinct sense of the magic crawling over the Barghest’s body as it changes. To change into the people closest to Wellington is also dramatic. I did feel a little let down at its final shape. It’s human sized with a goatee and a thin, devilish moustache and it either has wings instead of arms or is wearing a wing-like cape. It looks like a guy in a devil costume for a few moments, which might be fearsome in the 19th century, but in this day and age seems a little anticlimactic.
BOTTOM LINE: AN OPEN-ENDED CLOSURE
Wellington #5 certainly draws to a close, but it leaves things open with even more reason for Arthur to continue his hunt. I do hope the book continues. I like its take on the supernatural, and I love seeing a truly logical protagonist trying to deal with it on his own terms.
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Arthur chases the Barghest down – but at what cost?