Comics

He Knows What He’s Doing – Witch Doctor: Under the Knife

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The best thing about watching Hugh Laurie as House is the sarcastic wit and the know-it-all attitude he has.  He is so full of himself, thinking he is always right yet unlike other people, has the skills and the know-how to back up his claims.  Sometimes he needs someone to keep him grounded though and that is where his team comes in, not only offering him opinions and backup on his cases, but a counterbalance to his natural behaviour.  Such is the case with Witch Doctor by Brandon Seifert and Lukas Keith.  The only difference being unlike House, this book is on steroids because of the supernatural element and sheer insanity of it.

Witch Doctor chronicles the cases of Dr. Vincent Morrow, a doctor who cures those with mystical ailments and who also possibly happens to be the saviour of all mankind.  How that came about was the simple task of pulling Excalibur from the stone.  Of course, Morrow does not care about that, or much of anything except his latest case and if it is exciting or new enough to gain his interest for more than five minutes.  His team includes Mr. Gast, a former hospital employee and Penny Dreadful, a cryptophage, or a girl that feeds on other monsters.  A strange team to be sure, but one that works together well and cure their patients more often than not.

This book is one of the strangest, yet one of the most interesting books on the stands today.  Combining elements of being a physician with the supernatural, Witch Doctor has done something we have not really seen before, not even in Doctor Strange, and does it well.  The comic also pays homage to a number of classic properties such as The Exorcist, the Universal Monsters and more.  Never mind having a carbon copy-ish character of House as your lead, you have the Creature from the Black Lagoon in the book!  You really cannot get any better than that.  And out of the main team, Penny is probably the most intriguing of the three.  Perhaps it is because she does not speak, rarely that is, or the fact that she remains a mystery even when we learn what she really is.  It is a testament to Seifert’s writing that he can make her appear as such; much less make the rest of the book just as fascinating.

Just like Locke and Key with Gabriel Rodriguez, the art by Lukas Ketner takes a little bit of getting used to, but once that happens, it really is quite wonderful and disturbing as well.  His gill-creatures look great and the cuckoo faeries are frankly, quite frightening.  Ketner’s drawings are dark too, not just speaking about subject matter, but with light and shade as well.  If it were a black and white book, it would actually be a scarier piece of work.  It is almost reminiscent of the old Marvel monster mags in the way the book is done up, whether by accident or on purpose, the feeling or familiarity is a welcome one.

With the over-the-top craziness that this book puts in our hands, it would be hard to find one that could match it in its absurdity.  The characters and the situations that Ketner and Seifert have concocted while demented, are pure genius and some of the most fun one can find in any book.  While there have not been any solicitations recently for new issues, these two men deserve to have a long career in the field with this title living a long and fruitful life as well.

4.5 out of 5

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