Mister E #1 (June, 1991)
“At the End of Time”
Writer – K.W. Jeter
Pencils – John K. Snyder III
Inks – Jay Geldhof
Colors – Tom Ziuko
Letters – John E. Workman
Editor – Stuart Moore
Cover Price: $1.75
It’s funny how things happen sometimes. Just yesterday I was reviewing the new Books of Magic #1 from the Sandman Universe Imprint of DC Comics for Weird Science DC Comics… and last night I snagged another suitably spooky (but random) book out of the longbox for #boohauntedblog… and wouldn’tcha know it, young Timothy Hunter makes an appearance here as well!
Too bad I ain’t a betting man… those aren’t odds I’d have taken in a million years!
So… what in the wide world of comics is Mister E? Well, he’d first appear in the horror anthology Secrets of Haunted House (the credits list his creators as Bob Rozakis and Dan Spiegle). From here, he’d eventually be nyoinked from obscurity by Neil Gaiman as one of the members of the “Trenchcoat Brigade” (there is actually a miniseries called that…) who taught Tim Hunter (of Books of Magic) about… well, Magic. Something that even gets a nod in the all-new volume!
|Pretty sure that’s our man, third from the left.
From Books of Magic (vol.3) #1 (December, 2018) – on shelves today!
(w) Kat Howard / (a) Tom Fowler
Anyhoo… it’s always neat when we deal in serendipity… but, will that translate into a satisfying read? Wellll… in the words of the owl, let’s find out.
We open with Mister E slamming to the ground, having, perhaps fallen a great distance (it isn’t entirely clear). As he regains his bearings he realizes that he is now blind in more than one way. Ya see, before he was blind, but could still “see” evil… now, he can’t even do that! Wherever he’s landed… there is no evil. Don’t get too excited, because there’s no good either.
He begins to shout… he believes that “they” did this… likely, referring to the other members of the “Trenchcoat Brigade” (not that you would have the foggiest idea if you picked this up cold). Ya see, Mister E could sense evil in “the boy” (Timothy Hunter). He feared that one day Tim would pose a threat to humanity. The others did not get that sense… and so, Mister E has been sloughed off to wherever/whenever the hell he is. Oh, and he’s not alone… a beast watches from afar… and it’s pleased with the arrival.
Elsewhere, Timothy Hunter is alone on an island (of sorts). He’s sitting before a creepy looking building, skipping stones on the water. The ripples of which make out the forms of the Trenchcoat Brigade. A super cool panel!
Nearby, the Phantom Stranger and Dr. Fate look on. They talk about the Brigade training Tim on all things magical… and also discuss Mister E’s desire to “off” the lad. The Stranger is certain that Mister E is no longer a problem, having met Death. Dr. Fate is still worried.
Back on the island (of sorts), Timothy sits. Now, Mister E is just about there… when we’re tossed into a flashback!
We jump back to Mister E’s childhood. He and his father are out looking at the stars… and, it gets a bit weird. Ya see, if I’m not mistaken, Daddy E brought the boy here to confront him about looking at pornography. He wants to give him his “medicine”, which, in this case… is scooping his eyes out with a spoon?! Oookay. Maybe I’m taking this too literal… here: you be the judge.
Back, out of flashback, Mister E is descended upon by a woman who he mistakes for an angel. She takes him by the hand… then as she goes in for a kiss, stabs him through the heart!
This doesn’t kill him… and, as we all know, whatever doesn’t kill ya, makes ya yadda yadda. The angel goes to hand over the knife and tells him of his “holy mission” to purge the world of evil and sin.
Mister E and the Mister-ious woman blink away… leaving the poor beast all by its lonesome.
They reappear atop a flight of stairs. At the bottom, Timothy Hunter is “magicking”. He is bringing about the “cold flame”, which is apparently a big no-no. The angel finally actually hands over the knife… Mister E knows what he must do. And so, he shanks poor Timmy Hunter!
As Tim lay dying he tells Mister E what he was really doing. He was only calling forth the “cold flame” so that he could contain it! Now he’s lost it… and who knows what’s going to happen now? So, kinduva “whoops” there.
And, just then… the Cold Flame starts to spill. Mister E finds himself inadvertently responsible for dooming the world! He turns to the angel… and she’s pleased as punch. He slashes at her with the blade, which only tears her facade.
Revealing herself to be… The Temptress! You might be asking “who?”, and I wouldn’t blame you… this is an all-new character, so that “just why is this a big deal?” feeling you have is fully warranted.
She taunts him for a bit… claiming that she’s given him what he’s really always wanted. His “purity” gimmick was just a put on. He’s really just a filthy scumbag. With that, she drops Mister E back in the wherever the hell… and vanishes. He is now all alone again… except of course, for the beast!
I’m going to be honest here… this one took multiple reads to fully appreciate (or at least to appreciate as much as I can). This is a weird book… and really, almost inaccessible to those unfamiliar with the Books of Magic prestige format miniseries. I’ll put it to you this way… if you didn’t already know that the fella with the red specs was Mister E, you wouldn’t even know whose story we’re following, because he doesn’t get an actual introduction!
There are no footnotes to tell us where we’re entering the story… it couldn’t be after Books of Magic, since this very issue includes a House Ad for the still-happening miniseries (heck, maybe they came out concurrently, and this does happen after). Did Mister E just vanish in between panels during that story? If so, that’s fine… just tell us.
Now, it might sound like I’m being negative… and I suppose I kind of am, but… after reading this a second (and third) time, I actually quite enjoyed it. Of course, I did have the luxury of having the DC Wikia (and regular old Wikipedia) open as I worked my way through… something that a 1991 comics enthusiast wouldn’t have as an option. It was only then that I could follow (at least I think I followed) what was going on.
For what we get here… it’s not half bad. Having only read this for the first time today, a lot of its trappings feel a little bit played out. Can’t hold that against it though… it’s not this book’s fault that subsequent comics creators have mined the same tropes over and over again in the interim.
I really enjoyed the art… the second time around. It is pretty abstract at first blush, however, once you get your bearings with the story, it’s really very nice. Like I mentioned during the synopsis… I really dug that image of the Trenchcoat Brigade showing up in the ripples of the skipped stone.
Overall… if you’re familiar with the Books of Magic world, or the proto-Vertigo DC Universe, you should be able to follow this. If you’re not… well, if you’re not averse to needing to have your Google Machine open while you’re reading a comic book, I think you can get a lot out of this. This looks like a bin-dive, as it has not been made available digitally.