“WITCH DOCTOR” #1 (Comic Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria.com on June 18th, 2011

WITCH DOCTOR #1 (Skybound), a terrifically stylish and exciting supernatural thriller full of wild ideas sees a maniacal doctor who’s become obsessed with the existence of the paranormal. His medical team tries to keep him in touch with reality, but ultimately fails to stop him, as he throws himself into danger.

A family has lost all hope for their terminally ill young son and has no one to turn to when the child is possessed by a demon. As the boy floats above his bed and spews scorpions from his mouth, a priest struggles to exorcise the demon, but his faith is unprepared for the grueling battle. Unstoppable and menacing, the demon intends to stay inside and torture the boy’s soul, which is where the aforementioned Dr. Vincent Morrow and his medical team come in, and well, insist on dissecting the new patient.

Author Brandon Seifert wonderfully showcases each member of the ensemble and their relationships. Eric Gast, the paramedic, is the everyman caught in an extraordinary situation. Even as he faces terrifying demonic acts, Eric knows full well there is a patient’s life in danger. Though he butts heads with Morrow, Eric is still loyal because the doctor is brilliant. Meanwhile, Penny Dreadful is a mysterious presence with an attention-grabbing personality.

At his best, Seifert gives a little more depth to Dr. Morrow’s characterization. An interesting debate between science and religion escalates in the middle of WITCH DOCTOR’s pages and, through well-written dialogue and Lukas Ketner’s distinctive art, Dr. Morrow and the priest compellingly argue over how to save the boy’s soul.

Elsewhere, Ketner’s work really shines in the full-scale attack between Dr. Morrow and the demon inside the boy.

Highly recommended, WITCH DOCTOR #1 is a great start to this seemingly unique and offbeat four-issue miniseries. WITCH DOCTOR #1 hits June 29th, making a great addition to Robert Kirkman’s Skybound.