“I don’t have much time, so this isn’t going to be elegant.” is how #3 of Witch Doctor: Malpractice opens and that opening serves as well an introduction to the issue as it does an introduction to the sorry state that my physicality is currently in. I’ve been poisoned you see, food poisoned, the last betrayal, this time it’s personal, mistah kurtz he dead, and other such sayings the pompous and sickly invoke. But like Dr. Morrow, I’m not one to let a little poorly cooked eggs get me down, well I mean, I was definitely down, physically, but now, well, on to the issue.
Whenever I talk with people about Cabin In The Woods, I always find myself at a loss as to how to properly describe it. I end up saying something like, “It’s an experiment in genre” because I can’t just declare it to be horror or comedy or anything that we’ve previously used to describe art. This is one of the better aspects to living in the 21st century, the heyday of pop culture works of art and genre that defy both, titles like Shaun of the Dead or Tucker and Dale Versus Evil, or to bring it back to the comic world, titles like The Bullet-Proof Coffin or X-Statix, forgive me for focusing on the more meta, but you read my intro, I’m a man in pain. The point is Witch Doctor is finding it’s home within the ranks of works that won’t go gently into that good genre, it’s funny but it’s genuinely scary but it’s also touching and is it honoring Lovecraftian mythos or is it mocking it, or does it matter?
Throughout the pages of #3 we get to see Morrow cycle through a variety of volatile and intense emotional states, from his melancholic and almost tender opening to cackling mad laughter to steely eyed ultraviolent purveyor of nightmares.
And of course through it all Lukas Ketner nails every tic, stab, shock and mock, creating characters that never attempt to transcend the page, but rather perfectly embody the page, his characters are what comics are supposed to look like. In a time where it seems more and more art in comics look like someone traced a copy of US Weekly, it’s refreshing to find an artist who wants comics to look like comics.
Witch Doctor is a complicated story with a complicated set of characters. A complicated set of damaged characters I should add. All of our main cast, Morrow, Penny and Eric all have skeletons in their closet (insert occult-y pun), and it’s because they’re such complex characters when they get into a tight spot, like at the end of this latest issue, it’s always hard to really root for them. I mean, of course I want them to win, but are they really “our heroes” in the sense of the phrase? This is why Witch Doctor is must reading, because it gives you a comic for people who love comics while at the same time veering off the tried and true path of “our hero sets off on a noble quest” and instead flips it over, eviscerates it and then goes out for drinks.