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    Advance Review: Witch Doctor #4

    By | October 31st, 2011
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Written by Brandon Seifert
    Illustrated by Lukas Ketner

    It’s Dr. Morrow’s toughest challenge yet: a magical malpractice hearing! Mystics Without Borders wants answers. Why did the case of the “Patient from the Black Lagoon” go so wrong? What’s the biological secret of the Deep Ones, and their connection to the ‘Great Old Infections’? And how do you fight an epidemic that’s turning people into fish-people? Find out, in the finale of the debut miniseries from Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Originals line! “Witch Doctor has the potential to be the next great horror story in the comic industry.” — Bloody Disgusting

    This marks the end of the first mini-series from the first Skybound Originals book, as Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner take us to the end of the first arc telling the tale of Doctor Vincent Morrow and his band of merry men as they try to stave off the apocalypse. Does it prove to be a successful conclusion?

    Find out after the jump.

    It felt like I was waiting for this book for a long, long time to launch. It was announced at the same time Skybound Entertainment (Robert Kirkman’s branch of Image) was, and the time between announcement and release felt like a cruel joke in some ways (I could be wildly overrating the length of time it took).

    But once the first issue came out, I instantly didn’t care. For an initial effort, writer Brandon Seifert and artist Lukas Ketner completely nail it. With this fourth issue, they do a great job of wrapping up the initial story beats (in particular, the attack of the Gillpeople and Doctor Morrow’s review board hearing) while solidifying the core Witch Doctor cast and setting things up for the next mini and beyond (coming in December).

    One of the things many creators struggle at when working on horror/comedies of this vein is the balance of laughs and scares. Seifert does an excellent job at that, as this book excels at being funny without trying, instead developing it naturally through the plot and character interactions. It’s not forced funny or awesome when at a certain point of this issue Doctor Morrow sternly says “the f^@king universe.” It’s just awesome and laugh out loud funny and badass in the vein of Captain America shouting “do you think this letter on my head stands for France?!”

    At the core of the book really is one singularly great character – Doctor Morrow himself – with a great straight man in Eric Gast and one really, really awesome unknown in Penny Dreadful. If this book was simply the three of them gallivanting from ridiculous problem to ridiculous problem, I’d love it because these characters are so rich and funny and perfectly blended together. Gast has no idea what the hell is going on, Morrow feels like he’s the only one that knows what is going on (but he won’t explain to anyone else) and Penny just wants to eat (which can be bad for business). When you combine those three elements, it leads to highlight reel hilarity and organic drama that makes this book stand out in the world of horror comics. In fact, this book in some ways feels like a really funny B.P.R.D., in that it does a brilliant job of telling stories that can stand on its own in an issue while still developing an overarching plot.

    You gotta love that in a comic.

    You also have to love Lukas Ketner’s art, as it seems to house a lot of different influences while still maintaining its own identity. And what an identity – this book excels as expressive characters and well-told visual comedy, as well as some of the best monsters this side of Guy Davis.

    It’s realistic, very detailed, powerful and richly rendered in colors by Andy Troy (Sunny Gho did a good job as well early on in the series). It’s actually one of the better looking Image books, and between Ketner, The Red Wing’s Nick Pitarra and The Strange Talent of Luther Strode’s Tradd Moore, Image has a few really top notch finds this year in the art department.

    Continued below

    Witch Doctor is one of the most fun books I’ve read in 2011, and there’s something to be said about that. I’m really digging what the team is doing as they develop the cast and the central plot, and I can say that every issue was a highly entertaining ride that may have been highlighted by this one. All in all, I just have this to say to Team Witch Doctor: more. Now. Please.

    Final Verdict: 9.0 – Buy

    David Harper

    David Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).