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Friday, November 30, 2012

Witch Doctor: Under the Knife. Brandon Seifert (Writer), Lukas Ketner (Art), Sunny Gho, Andy Troy, Jamie Grant (Colours). Image Comics (2011)

Very smart and very funny, Witch Doctor takes a great idea and executes it with flair and wonderful, telling, detail. Dr. Vincent Morrow, working for Mystics Without Borders, takes a medical approach to dealing with the supernatural and is concerned with finding a vaccine for the apocalypse. After a barnstorming opening story about demonic possession, the rest of the stories never let up in inventiveness and momentum. Dr Morrow is aided by Penny Dreadful,  a young woman who is is considerably more than she appears and a new employee, Eric Gast a paramedic who is learning the business. The action is outstanding, the cast hugely engaging and the reveals brilliantly staged.
Brandon Seifert has chosen to highlight the black humour over the horror in the stories and this is a great choice, it gives him much more room develop his cast and use the horror to drive the stories rather than overwhelming them. His initial idea, of dealing with the supernatural in a medical framework is superb, it gives a really strong framework to the stories, it is how he develops the ideas that is wonderful. Why cast a spell when you can take one as a pill and then use it? The remarkably inventive way he uses medical and scientific ideas in cleverly thought out ways to solve supernatural problems is wonderful. The cast is astonishing, Vincent Morrow is bursting with curiosity, life and energy, Penny Dreadful is a very dangerous ally and Eric Gast is a great deal more than a stooge for Dr Morrow.
Of course, as Brandon Seifert notes it is all about the monsters and here the book shines a bloody beacon, the monster are genuine problems and threats, given stunning form in the simply astonishing art by Likas Ketner. He positively disproves the idea that a monster looses any of its force by coming into view, his monsters demand the limelight and deserve every second of it. They are wonderfully grotesque, moving with a natural force that gives them strength, while at the same time capturing the tone of black humour with care and subtlety. All of the cast have lovely physical presence, they interact with each other and their surrounding with energy and the expressiveness that they convey is a joy.
The colours by Sunny Gho, Andy Troy and James Grant are loud and vivid as they should be, this is a big bold story with an unexpected depth of character and the colours give it vivid and expressive life. This is story that glories in the light and avoids dark corners and shadows, the action is right up front and the colouring gives it depth, weight and drama. A great comic that really exploits the opportunities of the medium.

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