Witch Doctor: Mal Practice #1 sees the return of Dr. Vincent Morrow to the realm of the paranormal medical world, as he tackles not only monsters and demons, but his own mortality. Flanked by his sidekicks Penny Dreadful and Eric Gast, Morrow seems to have stumbled onto a brewing conspiracy before he is side-tracked by a heavy night of drinking and… other activities. Thanks to an excellent script from writer Brandon Seifert full of humor and strong characters, as well as Lukas Ketner’s art, this is a strong first issue in this new series.
WRITER: Brandon Seifert
ARTIST: Lukas Ketner
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
RELEASE: November 28th, 2012
The greatest strength of “Witch Doctor” is its characters. Dr. Morrow comes off as what Spider Jerusalem might be if he studied occultism instead of journalism, was slightly less acerbic, and had a significantly lower tolerance for drugs and alcohol. Eric Gast is the straight man of the group, but he has his own quirk – PTSD – which was humorously illustrated in a single panel. And Penny Dreadful clearly has identity issues. This is an entertaining cast of characters, and so when Dr. Morrow is in danger by the end of the book, you’re already rooting for them if only for the simple reason that you enjoy their presence.
In addition, Seifert manages to introduce the reader to all these characters while at the same time building a solid basis for the plot of this series. A particularly nasty demonic infection leads Dr. Morrow to suspect there might be witchcraft afoot. Before he can investigate, however, he stays up at a local bar where – after a number of drinks – he meets a voluptuous woman and wakes up with quite the hickey the morning after. And things go downhill from there. It’s simple, straight forward and compelling, which is exactly what an introductory issue should be.
Ketner’s art is equally impressive. He has a sound command of character expressions which allows him to accentuate the subtle details of characterization that dialogue isn’t capable of doing. This humanizes the characters and allows us to connect with them. But when he’s called upon to do horror, Ketner’s more than up to the task. Suffice it to say that the next time you see a hickey on your neck, you might just piss yourself.
On the whole, this is an excellent first issue with very few, if any, flaws. The only thing holding it back is that this is the first issue, and so there isn’t a lot of weight to the proceedings. Still, that’s an extraordinarily minor complaint. This is definitely one to pick up.
Reviewed by – George Shunick