“Witch Doctor: Mal Practice” #6 is a most satisfying conclusion to the six part saga that nearly killed its title star while giving the colorful cast of supporting characters time to shine. As a horror comedy, the pieces come together to tell an interesting story driven as much by character as by plot.
Brandon Seifert writes the book with his tongue slightly in his cheek, where his characters have a certain self-awareness that makes the book all the more interesting. It’s not just another monster book or another “strange occurrence” tale. Seifert mixes lots of influences together to hang a story on a complicated set of characters. This issue is obviously not a great entry point for a new reader, but regular readers will be impressed with how well Seifert shepherds a lot of plot points into a definite conclusion.
Again, though, it’s the sense of humor that sells the book, even in the middle of events packed with creatures pulling their own arms off, or using a tentacle-filled body in place of the original. There’s a slight wink towards the audience with a Batman reference that many readers will understand, but which also applies perfectly to the storyline. Given how outrageous the title doctor of this series can get, his final solution to the Big Villain’s Horrible Plot is inspired, silly and laugh-out-loud funny. It’s not just a gag, but also a perfect bit of plotting that kills multiple birds with a single stone. It’s a problem any “action hero” might get into, but the solution presented is unique to the character. That’s a sign of a well-defined character placed in the middle of a well-defined and well-structured plot.
Lukas Ketner’s art has to cram a lot of action into pages filled with a diverse cast of characters. It works out well, with a grid patterns used (often) to use plenty of panels onto each page to keep the story moving. Even when the action slows down and conversations erupt, Ketner sells the bit with the facial expressions of the characters involved. They mirror the inner emotions perfectly, often to comedic effect. That’s a talent too often missing in comics today.
“Witch Doctor: Mal Practice” solves the case ably, using up its entire cast in a way that satisfyingly ends the mini-series in a clever way while still giving the reader plenty to chew on. Seifert and Ketner tell their tale in a way that never loses the reader, but welcomes them in and gives them a sharp dose of craziness and character. It can be a tough sell if you’re not into the horror genre, but it’s worth a try. There’s a lot to recommend this comic for, above and beyond the genre it starts in.