GUNPOWDER WITCH by Jordan Williams is a look at the infamous American witch trials, with a dose of the supernatural to spice things up. It shows the victims of the witch trials in a new light, as powerful and courageous figures that are still ultimately human.

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Beginning the Hunt In GUNPOWDER WITCH

The story begins with the protagonist, Rebecca, first discovering that she has abilities beyond what other humans are capable of. A strange noise, which turns out to be just a mouse, startles her greatly. And, her frightened reaction activates her powers. The loud noise caused by the dangerous beams of light coming from Rebecca’s hands wakes her parents. They tell her to hide her powers, for her own sake, and she relays this message to her friend who reveals that she too has powers.

The story then jumps forward to Rebecca’s life as a young woman. That’s where things go wrong. Her friend, who also has abilities, is to be burned as a witch, and Rebecca uses her powers to save her friend, thus dooming herself. It is from here that the main plot begins, the fight against the hatefulness of the villagers. Rebecca teams up with two others with abilities different from hers, Corey and Bison, and they begin this fight.

GUNPOWDER WITCH
Image courtesy of Stache Publishing.

I must say, it is refreshing to see a story in which those accused of witchcraft fight back. Even more so, it is refreshing to see them fighting back while still trying to retain their goodness and humanity. In this story, Rebecca intends to spare as many villagers as possible in exchange for destroying Reverend Mather, the “hateful voice in their ears.”

Where GUNPOWDER WITCH Falls Short

The plot of GUNPOWDER WITCH presents a new side to the witch trials, and the characterization shows strong and rebellious characters. Unfortunately, there remains some work left to be done in terms of plot and characterization. The plot moves very quickly — there seems to be no moment of thought between Rebecca’s friend being proclaimed a witch and Rebecca trying to save her.

Additionally, we see no establishment of trust between Rebecca, Corey, and Bison, yet she suddenly trusts them enough to help her fight and not to betray her. As for characterization, we only know the bare bones of Corey, Bison, and Reverend Mather’s motives and backstories. I think these problems exist because of the finite run of the comic. If the story had been lengthened, more plot points could be added to support the story and build up characterization.

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Restoring the Records

GUNPOWDER WITCH shows an entirely new perspective of the witch trials.  It doesn’t focus on the chaos caused by dramatic endeavors of neighbors, but instead, it reveals a world ruled by fear. Specifically, this story lays bare the corruption of Reverend Mather and how that corruption ate away at his heart.

GUNPOWDER WITCH battles corruption in humans but does not insinuate corruption of the church. In fact, during the look into Reverend Mather’s childhood, it is a church official who attempts to hide and protect the boy whose abilities caused him to accidentally kill Mather’s sister.

GUNPOWDER WITCH shows the mistreatment of Native Americans as well. Bison said many members of his tribe had abilities that the villagers called witchcraft. The villagers burned them alive but spared him. The settlers easily confused his own ability with mere strength. Bison also says that he can hide because no one cares about him as he is Native American.

I have not often seen this kind of interaction between Native Americans and early settlers. Until having read this comic, my understanding was that settlers at least cared enough about supposed “threats” from the existence of Native Americans that the settlers sought to kill them all. I am left very surprised that this utter indifference to Bison’s existence prevailed.  This complete lack of caring shocked and saddened me, despite how obvious this interaction may have seemed to others.

GUNPOWDER WITCH
Image courtesy of Stache Publishing.

Suppressive Sketches

I find the art and design qualities of GUNPOWDER WITCH to be very fitting to the story. Its minimalistic qualities reveal the assumed simpleness of the time. The art of GUNPOWDER WITCH is very reminiscent of sketches early in an artist’s career.

However, this sketchy quality lends itself to create an air of suppression to the story, and this works. Reverend Mather heavily suppresses the villagers, Rebecca, and her friends. The suppression is emotional, physical, and even in terms of thought and ideas. The art becomes more emotional and less rigid as Rebecca fights against the villagers and Mather. This shows a progression of Rebecca’s strength and thoughts.

The muted colors in GUNPOWDER WITCH show the bleakness of the time period and the suppression of outside thought displayed by the puritanical villagers. Commonly, in the time setting for GUNPOWDER WITCH, puritans fought against artistic ideas. For example, they viewed art such as that of the Italian Renaissance as sinful. The muted colors of the comic show the conditions of the setting in addition to the conditions of the story.

GUNPOWDER WITCH features characters fighting against the witch trials, and a lack of caring in regards to Native Americans. This provides a fascinating new look at the time period without becoming a topical comic. It shows new perspectives without being overly critical of existing aspects. The art’s sketchy quality lends airs of suppression to the story, and the muted colors only go to support this. GUNPOWDER WITCH’s new perspective and sketchy fitting artwork make it a worthwhile read that you’ll have to experience for yourself.

GUNPOWDER WITCH by Jordan Williams
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
A young girl discovers her strange abilities. She is labeled a witch when forced to reveal them. She faces many dangers as being labeled a witch, but she fights back against this fate the label might mean.
77 %
A Worthwhile Witchy Read

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