By K.W. Jeter, John K. Snyder III, and Jay Geldhof (DC Comics; 1991)
A psychotic nightmare in comic book form, courtesy of the brilliant, underrated novelist K.W. Jeter. Jeter’s books include whacked-out classics like DR. ADDER, SOUL EATER and IN THE LAND OF THE DEAD. This four-issue DC miniseries showcases Jeter’s talent for illuminating the darker areas of the mind, while the hyperbolic artwork by John K. Snyder III and Jay Geldhof illustrates it admirably.
Mister E is a recurring character in the DC universe. He first turned up in the early eighties, in the anthology series SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE, and later in the Neil Gaiman scripted BOOKS OF MAGIC, which appeared around the same time as MISTER E. Those unfamiliar with those works will likely be left adrift here, as Jeter fills in his protagonist’s background in sketchy and inconclusive fashion. It doesn’t help that the story told by MISTER E is a headscratcher that jumps (literally) back and forth in time and unfolds on varying levels of reality.
The starting point is the end of time, where Mister E, a time-tripping psychopath, is pondering his fate. Mister E is blind, his eyeballs having been scooped out of his head by his sadistic father because as a child he looked at a girlie mag. Now the image he saw in the mag is tormenting the grown-up E in the form of The Temptress, a malevolent woman who’s actually a shade of E’s own fractured consciousness. So is the Shadower, a dark, hairy beast who embodies E’s darkest impulses.
Mister E is seeking to travel back in time and kill young Tim Hunter, a boy destined to become an evil sorcerer. But this proves far more difficult than it might sound.
There’s much weirdness in store, including the finding of Mister E’s eyes, which have assumed a malignant power. Apparently his father was under the control of some supernatural operators who needed a human’s eyes for their own demented purposes.
Jeter’s disturbed imagination makes for a skin-crawling narrative. It contains a real sense of psychotic invention, although it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Fascinating and disquieting MISTER E is, but coherent it’s not.