“Doctor Spektor: Master of the Occult” #1 by Mark Waid and Neil Edwards is the first time I’ve purchased or even read a story with this character in it, but given its pedigree in Dynamite’s Gold Key lineup and Mark Waid’s position in the writer’s chair, it couldn’t be all bad, right? Centered on a John Constantine/John Walsh/Jack Ryder/Ryan Seacrest amalgamation featured on his own reality show, “Doctor Spektor: Bring ‘Em Back Undead,” this comic keeps the cast small for the reader as Waid and company introduce the character and cast.
Spektor himself never strays from the center of Waid’s plot, giving readers a fair introduction to the character. Waid doesn’t dive too deep into Spektor’s personality in this first issue, choosing to leave mystery and celebrity as a buffer, at least for now. Waid does introduce readers to Abby Horne, Spektor’s personal assistant and Lenny, Spektor’s manager. In addition to his own celebrity, Spektor is obsessed with a vision only he can see, but cannot properly relate to anyone else in order for it to seem like anything other than a fantasy. This elevates the aloofness of the titular character, bringing him to the threshold of unlikeable. Waid recognizes that and pushes the plot in a direction that not only drops a hint about the rest of the Gold Key titles, but also unleashes a tragedy upon Spektor’s cast. The reaction from Spektor gives readers all they need to know that this character, at some point, will have to find his own path to redemption.
“Doctor Spektor: Master of the Occult” #1 is good foundational concept, but some storytelling bobbles from Neil Edwards check the flow of this issue. The art starts out strong, with Edwards providing well-defined characters and backgrounds, making excellent camera angle choices and giving colorist Jordan Boyd coloring-book-level solid lines to work with. Edwards’ work has a great foundation, but needs a little more pizzazz. Shortly after the midway point in the story, however, Edwards’ lines get thinner, the dimensional details are handled more by Boyd and those bobbles crop up. During the Madame Rose-centric attack, the storytelling and camera angles fall apart. Abby could just as easily be shouting out her order for lunch as crying for help and Spektor’s injury is handled in such a manner that the story around it is untenable. Was the vision only visible to those it attacked? Only to Spektor? Only to readers? It’s not clear and it comes across as not thoroughly planned. Jordan Boyd’s colors are sickly throughout, adding an atmosphere of pea soup around Spektor and company that doesn’t help to punch up the action and excitement.
Of the Gold Key launch issues, “Doctor Spektor: Master of the Occult” #1 impresses me the least. That’s not saying this is a bad comic. It’s just a comic with some flaws. Hopefully the flaws are just the result of first issue storming and norming and the second issue will be more inline with expectations.