“WITCH DOCTOR” #0 (Comic Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria.com on May 22, 2011

WITCH DOCTOR #0 (Skybound) is a superbly smart and riveting medical thriller filled with off-the-wall characters. A delusional doctor has become consumed with the existence of the supernatural. He will take any reckless step to prove his point, even if it means putting his medical team in danger. Readers will undoubtedly be taken away by the dark humor, the well-written characterization, and the striking artwork featured here.

Inside an abandoned church, a young man finds himself trapped as a prisoner, strapped to a dentist’s chair. At full volume, the captive pleads for his life, begging to be let go. He is unable to move because his body is kept locked in a straitjacket. But who really is the insane person here: the prisoner or the doctor with the scalpel?

The patient deserves unique attention in this situation. Dr. Vincent Morrow holds the scalpel steadily close to his prisoner’s face, as if he were going to cut him. The patient has an extreme sensitivity to bright sunlight and intolerance to certain herbs. Dr. Morrow insists on dissecting his trapped patient in order to discover if he really is a vampire.

Morrow’s medical team is actually having second thoughts about the operation. Eric Gast, a paramedic, insists that their prisoner is positively human. Penny Dreadful is hesitant at first, but has an eerily twisted sense of humor. Vampire or not, Penny just wants to see the prisoner’s chest cut open.

Has Dr. Morrow truly lost his mind? Even if they are holding a vampire in their hands, the team is very ill-equipped to handle the situation. Is Morrow really interested in saving the patient’s life? Or is he essentially a serial killer disguised as a medical healer?

Author Brandon Seifert vividly creates a cast of fully fleshed out breathing characters. Readers can instantly tell the protagonist is heavily influenced by RE-ANIMATOR’s Herbert West. Dr. Morrow does present himself as an antihero—much like West—but stands out in particular ways. Morrow is a man of science who doesn’t really believe in the supernatural. Even though a vampire is standing right in front of him, Morrow will side toward fact than fiction. Penny Dreadful has a minor presence here, but hopefully the following issues will build up her character.

Artist Lukas Ketner practically keeps a suspenseful and creepy vibe throughout the pages. Using tight close-ups and medium shots, Ketner manages to create tension amongst Morrow and his medical staff. The character designs of the entire team are so stylish, making it easier for readers to differentiate them. The colors by Sunny Gho are just phenomenal to look at.

Noteworthy for its story and art, WITCH DOCTOR #0 is definitely a series you should keep your eyes on. From the man who brought you THE WALKING DEAD, this is the debut original comic published by Robert Kirkman’s Skybound line. WITCH DOCTOR #0 emerges as cutting edge material at its finest.