By: Brandon Seifert (writer), Lukas Ketner (art), Andy Troy (colors)
The Story: Dr. Morrow goes to confront the villains who infected him with a horrible disease.
Review (with trivial SPOILERS): Again, this is another wonderful issue of this series. Witch Doctor is funny, snappy and expertly illustrated. There’s really nothing to not love about this title. If it came out 12 times per year, you’d see it on a lot of people’s “Best ongoing comic” lists.
Characters are the key to this title. By keeping the cast small, the creators have been able to nicely flesh out the three main characters. Each issue of Witch Doctor revolves around Dr. Morrow and his two assistants. Compare that to a series like The Walking Dead – with it’s HUGE cast – where we might go a year between meaningful lines of dialog from an important character like Michonne and you can see the benefit of compactness. The Witch Doctor characters are also a diverse lot and that gives most readers something to hang onto, even if you’re taking a little from Character A and a little from Character B. When Dr. Morrow is frustrated with the stupid people around him, I can identify with that. When his “everyman” assistant Eric Gast does something practical – like punching the monster or throwing something at it – while Dr. Morrow is trying to cast a complex spell…I can identify with that too. I’m not sure what to hold onto with Penny, but if you were a goth girl, she’d be right up your alley. For the rest of us, just seeing Penny transform between droopy goth girl and killing monster is cool enough.
With characters this good, the story and plot almost become mostly superfluous; they’re merely vehicles to deliver more of the characters I enjoy. One element of Witch Doctor became clearer in the letters column where writer Siefert talked about how much research he does for this title. Anyone who reads my reviews, knows that I’m a stickler for accuracy when it comes to technical stuff. It doesn’t come up very often in a superhero comic, but interesting fictional concepts are spoiled all the time by writers who don’t bother to get their technical details correct. Perhaps it doesn’t “ruin the story”, but it makes it less than it could be. You might wonder how this applies to a story about a doctor of the occult who fights demons? Well, there is a lot of medical lingo going on in Witch Doctor and while I’ve never marveled at the accuracy of this lingo, I’ve also never stopped reading the story to fact-check Siefert either. The comic just has the ring of authenticity about it; it feels accurate. I’m sure that these demons Dr. Morrow fights probably all have roots in various folklore and the fact that they seem to be accurate enhances my immersion in the series. Getting these facts correct is the difference between being a profesional and writing fan-fic.
And, of course, the art is beyond splendid. I just assume that this wonderful art is why we can’t have 12 issues of Witch Doctor every year. However, if it looks like this, I really don’t mind the sporadic publishing. There are a LOT of other comics that also don’t come out monthly that look nowhere near as good as Lukas Ketner’s work. I see a huge amount of influence from the guys who made the Warren publishing version of Creepy magazine so great: Bernie Wrightson, Al Williamson, Joe Orlando, etc. But, it’s not fair to say that Ketner is aping those guys; Ketner has his own style and I love it. There really aren’t any flaws to his work. He lays out scenes nicely, his storytelling is great and his drawing is expert level. About the only area where he could mix it up more would be with overall page design, but his panels are pretty busy so if he made the page crazier…..it might be too much. Anyway, Ketner is great. Kudos should also go to colorist Andy Troy. My lack of technical knowledge of coloring leaves me at a loss for words, but trust me, it looks good enough to be worth a call-out. That doesn’t happen with 95% of the comics on the market.
Conclusion: A splendid issue in a great series. More people should read Witch Doctor. Trust me, you’ll like it.
– Dean Stell