Since comic books, television shows and films are all becoming more and more intertwined we’ve gotten to a point where it’s fair to use the criteria or at least the cultural digesting format of one for the other. I think that’s acceptable and I hope you do too because I’m about to do that. First seasons of television shows are a tricky thing. You’re either captivated right away, as in the case of Lost, or you need a season to really find your footing, as in the cases of The Simpsons or King of the Hill. Either way, the first season has a difficult road, for they not only have to grab the audiences attention and introduce the characters but they also have to start in media res as it were. So there’s so much catch up to be done and not a lot of room to do it in. In the case of the first volume of Brandon Seifert & Lukas Ketner’s Witch Doctor there was a wonderful balance by way of bringing the reader into this weird, funny, dark, doomed world through the twisted characters and cases Morrow and his team encounter. But like a lot of first seasons, it couldn’t dedicate to the over-arching mythology until there was an audience there ready to dedicate themselves as well, so the first volume was very much of a “monster of the week affair” with small glimpses here and there of Morrow’s ultimate destiny.
Now that Volume 2, “Mal Practice” has dropped we’re reaping the benefits of the book’s return immediately. Much like Dollhouse‘s second season which dropped the “Charlie’s Angels” approach and gave the viewers straight story centered action, Witch Doctor: Mal Practice #1 brings us back to the first case of the series while at the same time pulling the blanket back and giving fans what (I’m sure) they’ve been craving, an ongoing narrative, a season long case, Veronica Mars meets Supernatural meets House meets a bunch of other pop culture dynasties I can think of to increase the chances of this article creating a google news alert for Kristen Bell or Jared Padelicki (I LOVE YOU SAM).
How’s the book you’re wondering? Stop rambling and get to the meat and potatoes, enough of the foo-fah-rah. Well for starters, if Ketner was just a great artist before, he’s now a really great artist. The pencils and inks both have such a tremendous attention to detail, but not in a way in which the images are lost in it, rather the panels are alive with action and emotion. And much like the masters that myself and others have compared Ketner’s work to in the past (Veitch, Adams), this issue is practically a “How To Make Comics” guide with the layouts, action and art actually being that good. The book feels like you’re reading a new classic, it’s delivery is that good and it’s story telling that smart. When you can combine your influences with your own vision, you can create works for the medium that are approachable for the uninitiated and rosetta stones for the faithful.
The issue begins with a case from the past, but ends with the introduction of a new character and the kick off a plot within a plot, all the while the story being driven by Seifert’s smart, funny dialog and the pair’s interesting, clever characters. There’s some big business at foot in Witch Doctor: Mal Practice, and you’ve got the opportunity to get in on the ground floor right now. Finally some malpractice that you can be excited about experiencing. (Hey it was either a play on “malpractice” or something about “The doctor is in” for a last line, so be thankful.)