Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Witch Doctor #1 from Skybound/Image Comics

reviewed by Simon Breeze

"It's a sick world - LITERALLY. The universe is a living thing, and the monsters of legend are its parasites. Earth's immune system - humanity - has been at war with supernature for all of history. But to fight a disease, you don't need soldiers. You need doctors.

Doctors like VINCENT MORROW, excommunicated from the medical community and headhunted into an exciting new career in the black arts. Marrow serves the world with both hands - one in magic, one in medicine - as Earth's protector. Earth's WITCH DOCTOR.

It's a sick world - HE'S HERE TO TREAT IT."

[Taken from the inside front cover of Issue #1 of Witch Doctor.]

I discovered Witch Doctor a few months back whilst scrolling through Image Comic's solicitations. There were several new titles solicited, but only two really jumped out at me instantly. One was 50 girls 50, and the other was Witch Doctor.

The cover alone leapt off of the web-page for me: the stark white background contrasted with the bright red logo and a quirky (in a good way) doctor listening intently to the heart of what looks like a clearly possessed man arched backwards on all fours dribbling oodles of green slime! A quick read of the synopsis, which from memory matched the quote from the inside cover, and I was sold!

Witch Doctor is a four issue mini series, and having just read issue #1, I can tell you before you read any further, that I am already planning to pick-up the whole series, and most likely a trade should it do so too.

This first issue, and one of the many things I like about, is that it is a self contained story. With a limited run of only four issues, I assumed that it would be a four-issue story-arc. Who wouldn't? However I'm happy to say that it isn't. The impression I am taking away from this fantastic first issue is that each one will be it's own story, each introducing elements of the Witch Doctor 'world' to the reader. This to me is great news! Because it means that we are going to get four stories and not just the one.

So what is this first issue about? As always, I'm going to do my best to 'skimp' on details to avoid spoiling things for anyone who is yet to read Witch Doctor.

The story starts by introducing the main characters via a case of a demonically possessed boy (think The Exorcist) who religion has failed to help. The Witch Doctor (much to the priest's annoyance) bursts onto the scene to help out, and here we get to meet the gang: a paramedic who is new to the role called Eric Gast; a very fascinating young girl called Penny; and of corse the Witch Doctor himself, Vincent Morrow.

The witch Doctor and his team take the boy into their care to find a cure for his demonic possession, and here is where we get a brilliant insight to the world of the Witch doctor as he goes about 'curing' the boy of his affliction. Not only do we get to see how the Witch Doctor works, however we also see how his world works. I must admit, it is all very convincing. One thing that I have always struggled with is supernatural stories. The believability, or suspension of disbelief, is always a hard sell to me, especially when it involves magic in a modern day setting. With Witch Doctor I had no problem at all, it all felt perfectly natural, even when its was at its most bonkers!

Witch Doctor worked brilliantly for me on many levels. The art and writing are spot on and compliment each other fantastically. The characters, as well as the world, are well conceived, convincing and intriguing. The story is a good one, with great dialogue, pacing and humor. Brandon Seifert states within the issue that Witch Doctor is influenced by '... bits of Hellboy and Hellblazer and House, M.D. and Planetary, '70s horror comics ... ... and the H.P. Lovecraft that blew my mind in high school' and you can really feel all of these influences within the comic.

As you can tell, I really-really enjoyed this comic. Witch Doctor is a very welcome breath of fresh air in my monthly comic subscription, and I am very much looking forward to the next three issues and what they might bring. Witch Doctor is also the very proud holder of the title of the only comic book to make my skin crawl too! With everything I have said, how can I not give this issue a demon splattering five out of five! Go pick up a copy now, you won't be disappointed.

Witch Doctor #1
Written and lettered by Brandon Seifert, art by Lukas Ketner, coloured by Sunny Gho
Published by SkyBound/Image Comics