This second run on the “Witch Doctor” concept from got a solid start, and now that it’s reached its halfway point, it looks like this Skybound title is as weirdly entertaining as ever.
Written by Brandon Seifert
Illustrated by Lukas Ketner
Dr. Morrow’s medical practice – diagnosing and treating supernatural diseases – has been disrupted by a mysterious force that’s targeted him for unknown reasons. Now, Morrow faces his oppressor – and discovers just how much danger he’s in!
After a one-night-stand gone wrong, Dr. Vincent Morrow’s got himself a nasty case of strigoism, and finds himself meeting with a mysterious group at a isolated reservoir in order to cut a deal and get himself cured. But surprise surprise — the midnight meeting at the reservoir doesn’t go as planned, and things get monstery — fast.
This is an issue full of plot twists — the phrase “quadruple crossed” does come up — and as the identity of Dr. Morrow’s nemesis is revealed and a couple other pieces of the puzzle are shown to us, the implications are surprising and intriguing. Little clues from previous issues come together in a meaningful way (still leaving plenty of mystery to be solved, of course), and a wonderful action sequence toward the end — involving very disparate kinds of monsters — caps things of with a bang. Which is to say: while there’s plenty to enjoy in this issue, it also looks like the larger arc of the miniseries is being managed with a nice feel for pacing, and that this slower burn of information is going to have a larger payoff down the road.Continued below
The strongest element overall is likely Dr. Morrow himself. Cranky, crusty, and not above calling his opponent a douchebag when the situation permits, Dr. Morrow’s just fun to watch, no matter what else is going on, and he keeps the supernatural antics grounded and centered with his endlessly sarcastic attitude. The key is that Seifert consistently nails the tone and scope of this guy’s dialogue, being sure to throw in the occasional esoteric word in order to signal the doctor’s overall sphere of knowledge before bringing things back down to earth with a deadpan throwaway line. (“Let’s get this party started,” he intones as he heads to the rendezvous, and it shouldn’t work but it totally does.)
Meanwhile, Ketner art’s continues on being just the thing for this title — moody but gently humorous, with fascinating and thoroughly grotesque otherworldly elements. The heavy texturing adds to the mood of the proceedings without making the individual panels feel too static, and while the facial expressions aren’t as graceful as they could be, they don’t exactly feel out of place, either, given the over-the-top nature of the comic as a whole. There has certainly been some influence wafting over from the land of Victoriana — the elongated figures and weathered faces wouldn’t look out of place in one of Boz’s illustrations for Dickens, for instance — but Ketner doesn’t lay it on too heavy, either. Between that and a certain 1980’s flair for the clever and campy, there are a lot of styles being mishmashed and manipulated here, but the result is always consistent.
All the while, Andy Troy’s colours lean heavily into the blues and aquas, keeping the mood in the funhouse-horror spectrum rather than the deep-and-dark-and-serious one and complementing the sense of humour that permeates the title. Plus there’s a spectral being who turns up toward the end of the issue, and while the nature of thing being hasn’t exactly been explained yet, Troy’s colours certainly lend this phantom a unique look.
Overall this is a particularly strong issue in what has been a fun and eccentric second run so far. “Witch Doctor: Mal Practice” clearly isn’t for all tastes, but between the plot twists, the unusual art, and the downright strangeness of the proceedings, it’s entertaining reading. And so, if you’ve ever had a fondness for the weird and wonderful, there’s no reason to keep the Doctor away.
Final Verdict: 7.9 — A highly recommended browse.