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Royal Reviews: Witch Doctor #1

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Monday, July 04 2011 and posted in Reviews

A brand new comic by two brand new creators debuts from a brand new imprint of Image Comics!

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

Witch Doctor #1 (of 4), on sale June 29, 2011 from Skybound Entertainment/Image Comics.

House, M.D. meets Fringe in the first Skybound original from Robert Kirkman’s new comics imprint! Meet Vincent Morrow, a doctor looking for a vaccine… for the apocalypse! In this stand-alone first issue, a family needs Dr. Morrow’s help with their son’s illness: Demonic possession. But when Morrow attempts an experimental cure, he discovers the boy’s disease isn’t all spinning heads and pea soup — it’s like nothing you’ve seen before! Horror gets a brain transplant in Witch Doctor, the book Warren Ellis calls “Mental.”

$2.99, 32 pages. Diamond order code APR110397


Supernatural and magic stories have a spotty record in comics, if only because the rules that govern other genres tend not to apply.  Action adventure and horror make sense are easy to deal with, but magic?  It can get pretty difficult to explain and define.  One smart idea would be to ground the action in a concrete, scientific reality that makes sense of the arbitrary nature of magic.  

Created by two newcomers, Witch Doctor #1 brings a heavy and much-needed sense of logic to the supernatural by framing magic in terms of medicine.  Dr. Vincent Morrow approaches magic with a diagnostician's eye as he figures out a supernatural problem and prescribes and enacts a solution.  In this issue, Morrow and his hapless assistant Eric come across a case of demonic possession in a child, which is as commonplace an ocurrence in their world as any other parasitic infection.  The exposition throughout the issue plays with some fun ideas about how the soul is basically the body's immune system against supernatural threats, and that magic and exorcisms are basically medical procedures.  The mostly unflappable Dr. Morrow has a lot of fun demonstrating his techniques to the boy's parents (and to the reader), and writer Brandon Seifert grounds it in a logical base.  The action is written in such a way that it makes sense of these otherworldy threats and does so with some manic energy, despite the fact that magical infections are such a routine occurence in this world.   The story piles up mysteries and twists at a furious pace and the whole comic really feels like a well-established, lived-in world.  Witch Doctor #1 is a first issue that reads like it's part of a long-running series.  It's a complete, stand-alone story that pays off a lot of its own setup while leaving a bunch of brand new mysteries open to entice reading another issue. 

In fact, Witch Doctor creators Seifert and artist Lukas Ketner also look like comic book veterans, rather than newcomers.  Ketner's textured artwork and expert storytelling recall the illustrative quality of Neal Adams.  His characters are very expressive and his panel-to-panel flow is very strong.  Furthermore, all of his creature designs are appropriately monstrous and creepy.  He's already proven to be a fine comic book artist, and it would be interesting to see exactly where he goes as he gets more experience with the medium.

Review by: Royal Nonesuch

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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch

As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well.  You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.


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