AlbinoDarkBeast Reviews: Witch Doctor
I’ve just been notified that, for the Nth time, some despicable body orifice equivalent of a person has hacked our site and deleted 3 months of hard work. As of the moment of this writing, I have also received news of some reliable leads on the culprit. This being the situation I am issuing a warning To Whom it May Concern:
I am a 5’ 10’’, 200lb, violent individual. I have a 1st-dan Black Belt in American Kenpo and Taekwondo. I’ve also trained jiujitsu informally for the past 4 years. In the winter of 2009, I spent 3 months training urban combat techniques with the Basque Territory Antiterrorism police in San Sebastian, Spain. I am also well versed in Krav Maga.
On top of that, I am an Orthopedic Surgeon. It is my job to deal with fractures and violence every day. I have extensive training in several ways of hurting people and I have an anatomical and physiological acumen to be reckoned with. I know where to strike and how to deal the most damage with the least effort in the most painful parts of the human body. And while I may not be bulletproof, I can assure you I’m abnormally fast and nimble for a man of my girth.
I may or may not also suffer from some traits of Asperger’s Syndrome. I do obsess over certain activities and show some remarkable proficiency at very specific tasks, and I am also a very emotionally detached and cynical individual and feel very little remorse when recurring to violence if I feel like myself or the people I care about are being threatened. Oh, and I’ve already passed 3 kidney stones without medication, so I can take more pain in 10 minutes that you could take in a lifetime.
Please take this into consideration the next time your Cheetos-stained fingers start typing malicious code.
So ranting aside, I think this gives our readers a brief insight on my background and some degree of understanding for my love for certain types of books.
Agent Burgos got me some the first 2 issues of Witch Doctor (which he disliked), and I was immediately hooked. It was pure genius. It combined my passion for the SCIENCE part of science fiction with a light dose of black humor and some highly detailed drawings of unspeakably horrible creatures. A true thing of beauty. All it needed was complimentary bacon to completely win my heart.
As I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for underdogs. Witch Doctor was published independently for its first Issue (First Incision), and received moderate praise due to financial restrictions. Working under such conditions, the authors decided to launch issue as a stand-alone adventure, with just enough depth to hook the readers to a very intriguing story, yet not scare them away with overly complex details.
It deals with the adventures of Vincent Morrow, MD; a washed-out doctor recruited by mystical forces to fight evil hellspawn. Some background is revealed scarcely through the text as to why Dr. Morrow came to be in this particular predicament, but the authors have made it very clear that the mystery surrounding the cast of characters will remain an integral part of the book’s structure.
This first pilot issue I got my paws on was published in black and white, much like a sketchbook, and Ketner’s pencils took the obvious creepiness of a mystical parasite to a very satisfying level. If you’ve ever seen Guillermo del Toro’s sketches, you have a vague idea of what Witch Doctor looks like. While Sunny Gho’s colloring in the following issues is impeccable, I have this thing for charcoal drawing that still makes me long for the pilot issue (blame it on the quasi-Asperger’s).
I am raving about the fact that these guys are taking their realism to sick levels, by studying disgusting, real-life parasites and diseases and incorporating them into mystical folklore to lend Dr. Morrow a greater degree of credibility. They also have a medical advisor, something Hollywood has completely overlooked for as long as there’ve been doctors on the screen.
As for the character itself, imagine you took Dr. House and gave him the Eye of Agamotto, pitted him against H. P. Lovecraft’s bad acid trip while hiding his Vicodin and you get one of the most entertaining, original antiheroes you’ll ever read. Dr. Morrow’s co-workers are no less interesting. Eric Gast, a paramedic (and apparently med-school reject) fired and disgraced for his association with Morrow; and “Penny Dreadful” a girl who may either be a case of unusual demonic possession, or a demon with dissociative personality disorder (either way, COOL).
There’s common medical gadgets retrofitted with mystical elements to make paranormal diagnoses, there’s mystical medical instruments and a kick-ass sword called “Scalpel” that can learn how to pierce through demons with each fight… and there’s also Morrow’s drive to help the Realm while remaining a huge jerk to keep readers salivating over every issue repeatedly.
As for the composition, I have nothing but praise. The panels are flawlessly spaced, and aid the reading cadence brilliantly. This is crucial, since the good doctor tends to rant and some pages are profusely filled with text. This text, however, never overcrowds the page or interferes with the art. The fonts are pretty standard, which does make it a little confusing to follow, since there are multiple dialogues between multiple characters going on in some pages, and no visual aid to differentiate each one. Still, this shouldn’t be a problem, unless you are dyslexic or hyperactive.
As a creator-owned series, reader contribution is vital. You need to buy this. Seifert and Ketner have been cooking up stories for this for the past 4 years. If these first 3 issues are but a slight indicator of the quality of their work, this book is pure gold.