Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation

Written by Brandon Seifert
Art by Lukas Ketner
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

With the number of comics currently being published, it’s easy to have one (or lots) slip past you. That was the case with Witch Doctor, a mini-series from Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner, and published under Robert Kirkman’s imprint (Skybound) at Image Comics. Fortunately, Seifert and Ketner aren’t above giving readers a second chance, and that’s what I feel like I was handed with the Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation one-shot published last month. In many ways, it’s a model approach that I’d love to see more creators follow.

Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation was, to me, a perfect introduction to Witch Doctor in general. In a matter of pages, Seifert introduced the three main characters, the setting of the book, and what I can only assume is the general approach for the title. All of this is delivered in a smooth, unobtrusive way; I never felt like I was being besieged by an information dump, but instead just had a new patient learning the ropes as we did. It helped that Seifert keeps most of this in the background; the main focus is on the strange case of a person who wakes up in a bathtub full of ice and an incision where his kidney lies underneath. Except in this case, he still has two kidneys, it’s just that one is a little… different.

One of the things I liked so much about Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation was that it starts with an old urban myth—the waking up in a bathtub full of ice with what appears to be a kidney stolen—and then not only turns it on its head, but keeps upping the ante. Seifert continually adds in new plot elements and escalations, and it’s the progression of each new piece leading to the next that makes it especially fun. By the time we get to the conclusion of the story, you can see exactly how we arrived there, but at the same time it’s nowhere near the original opening scene. I also appreciated the introduction of a potential recurring love interest/villain; Catrina Macabrey, to this new reader, comes across almost instantly as a strong foil for main character Dr. Vincent Morrow, and like assistant Eric Gast, I’m expecting to see her again before too long.

Both Seifert and artist Ketner helped ease me into the main characters, for that matter. I felt like I knew them quickly, in part because of the way that our new patient is introduced to them, but also in how Ketner draws them. Dr. Morrow has a wonderful blase manner about him, that almost-sneer on his face as he first walks in to give a second opinion about the swapped-out kidney. When we first meet Ophelia the smoke child, though, there’s an expression of surprise and disgust on his face, and that helped nail the character for me. He’s got great knowledge in his head, but he can still be taken aback by the events around him. Look in comparison to the slightly odd postures and expressions of Penny Dreadful, or the wonderful normalcy of Eric. Even Catarina’s self-assured nature comes across in no small part due to the art. Ketner balances the personal, the grotesque, and the otherworldly in a way that makes me feel like I have a strong grasp on the world of Witch Doctor.

Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation works quite well as an introduction to the series, even after the first storyline’s wrapped up. Fortunately for me, there’s already a collection published of what came before; Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation is in many ways a teaser for that collection as well as 2012’s upcoming mini-series Witch Doctor: Mal Practice. I’m amused by Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation that I’ll be catching up sooner rather than later. It’s nice to get a second chance that not only offers an easy introduction, but also timed perfectly between past and future material. Creators, take note.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com | Powell’s Books

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