The occasional short, sharp, intensely stand-alone tale is as welcome and vital as a reliable torch in a haunted house. Just such a salutary singleton is a no-nonsense, straightforward battle of earthly mage against ancient uncanny abomination. It’s devised (and lettered) by novelist, film director, columnist and comics creator Alex De Campi, illustrated by certified comics giant Jerry Ordway and introduces enigmatic-woman-with-a-past Alice Creed.

An untenured professor at New Haven, her classes attract all the cool kids, but she has a bad reputation and appalling attendance record. Her students never know when she will turn up, because she consults on police cases. Not ordinary ones, though: Professor Creed gets a call whenever science and reason go out the window.

Her best friend is teaching assistant Archie Rollins who’s a constant helpmeet and dutiful substitute for her classes. He’s also her housekeeper and is not local – by at least a dozen dimensions. As Archie pacifies another disappointed bunch of teens who wanted to experience the mystic “rock star” sharing the unseen secrets of existence, Creed is far away in Bridgeport, attending another uncategorisible case stumping the cops.

Having established that magic always comes at a cruelly high cost, we follow the Prof uncover a case of possession resembling an old enquiry. This time, a kid’s soul has been sucked into the void, via his computer, and a little blood magic determines he’s only one of thousands to have fallen victim to a demonic game. After a ghostly visitation and a touch of divination, Alice heads for Las Cruces, New Mexico tooled up and wearing her other hat, which is that of merciless monster killer.

She’s soon bargaining with the local supernatural forces for permission to work in their territory, discovering her current quarry has been poaching on their turf with no care regarding the rules and laws governing the magical world. Creed is cautious and polite, but determined. She knows her place and mission in the ancient hierarchy and considers the huge number of people she couldn’t save as her greatest burden.

A year later the drained monster hunter returns to academia, blithely unaware that an oversight has come looking for her and is now attending her classes.

Old-fashioned duels between Good and Evil featuring a kick-ass protagonist with almost as much emotional baggage as arcane weaponry provide a superb done-in-one magical monstery tour to delight old time horror buffs seeking something a little bit new in the grand old manner. The saga is supplemented by Ordway’s roughs, pencil art, cover sketches and more.

Semiautomagic is perfect b-movie horror: stark, inventive, rollercoaster-paced and rendered with exhilarating bravura. This thundering, down-and-dirty fable grips like a vice and hits like a hammer, and in Professor Alice Creed comics have another weird warrior to join the ranks of Doctors Fate, Strange, Voodoo, Doom, Drew, Mirage and all the rest.