Sunday Review: Witch Doctor Mal Practice #2 – Where Were You When?

Louis Falcetti writes;

Witch Doctor: Mal Practice #2 is out and not only is it another dark, fun outing from Seifert and Ketner, but another feather in Image’s hat for delivering comics jam packed with story at the most reasonable of cover prices. This series differs from the first (if you’re just joining us) as instead of being a series of one off creatures of the week, it’s an overarching, interlocking, graphic novel looking, long story (not unlike Sawyer’s “long con”, except completely different). What’s amazing is that even though you’d think a continuing story would prove the more difficult type of series for new readers to hop on to, it doesn’t feel that way with Witch Doctor at all. Not only is back story provided in-step with the progression of events so nicely that it never feels like repetitive or unnecessary, but the adventures that take place within the issue itself are so much fun, you don’t even need to be constantly thinking of the big everything.

And yeah, I said “adventures” because as much as W.I. wears it’s Dr. House influence on it’s angry sleeve, this issue definitely had a straight up adventure comic feel to it that when combined with it’s supernatural pulse makes it an extremely fun read. There’s just so much going on in this comic! You get so burned out on comics from the big 2 where it seems just because of it’s extremely stale formula there’s always going to be issues where characters just sit around talking about the plot, and walking around giving each other pep talks or shouting “WHERE WERE YOU WHEN ______ WAS DYING? ____ NEEDED YOU AND YOU WERE OFF WITH _____ ON ______ _____ING!”.

From it’s opening at a back alley, black magic flea market to the mystic “old timey hobo” (Morrow’s words, not mine) to the Dark City meets Hellraiser demon terrors to a side mystery to finally more information about Morrow’s attacker (or ‘ers??) there is just a ton of story telling going on for $2.99. I don’t know, I’m just really, really poor right now so I guess more often than not when I can find a book that’s not only excellent, but also cheap, I just freak out a little. And sure I get digital files of comics to review, but this is one that I want to actually own.

Seifert writes effortless dialog between Morrow and Gast, Watson to his Holmes, Sallah to his Indiana Jones, Logan Echolls to his Veronica Mars, wait, that’s not accurate. Or is it? (It’s not.) It’s just a joy to watch the two go back and forth just as much as it’s a joy to watch Morrow work when he’s put to task figuring out what exsanguinated two dead hobo friends. I mean two friends of a hobo who are now dead, not two dead hobos who are also friends with each other. They could’ve been hobos now that I think back, though maybe they were just wearing knit hats, and my brain was just being judgmental. Seifert writes the dialog with this quick, smart rhythm that propels the scenes forward with a unique and captivating energy.

What else is smart about this book? It’s managed to make a comic that’s practically all ages (I say practically mind you) while at the same time not giving up any of their truly demented horror imagery. Ketner gets better with each issue, which is sort of like if you made the perfect apple pie and then when you went to make another one a week later, somehow you had improved on what you thought was already best the apple pie ever. Is that a confusing food metaphor? I’m hungry and it snowed so I want pie. I just didn’t want you thinking that saying an artist “improved” means that he’s gone from shitty to not so shitty. Ketner just goes from good to great to amazing.

Ketner gets so many opportunities through this tale to draw so much outlandish, insane stuff and manages to do so with a smart eye and a great sense of movement. And since this comic never loses it’s sense of humor, it’s amazing that Ketner can convey such creeping horror as well as some of the lighter touches with the same precision and grace.

Witch Doctor is a treat for genre fans, you get more supernatural horror but with a fun enough sense to it that it doesn’t feel like picking up more broken sullen characters for 10 issues of misery and bleak violent despair. Not even sure what I’m actually referencing there, but you know what I mean. I look for new occult-y, supernatural-y stories just like I look for more time-travel-y, alternate realtiy-y stories as well. Lots of times I’m rewarded with more of the same “we kill monsters, someone we love is dead or something”. But sometimes I’m rewarded with Witch Doctor.

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