Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ooo-eee, ooo-ah-ah, ting-tang...

From Witch Doctor #3.
For some reason (likely financial), I missed the Image Comics miniseries, Witch Doctor, when it was initially published last summer. This past week, while at the comic shop, I rectified this error by picking up the four issue miniseries as well as the more recently published one-shot, Witch Doctor: Resuscitation. All issues in Witch Doctor's brief existence have been written by Brandon Seifert with art provided by Lukas Ketner.

A deligthfully dark spin on Marvel's much tamer character Doctor Strange, Witch Doctor follows Dr. Vincent Morrow, Earth's preeminent Occult Physician, and his team as they find their way through the mystical planes and problems that lie just below the surface of our modern world. In addition to wielding the sword Excalibur against Lovecraftian monsters such as "Cthulu's tapeworms," Dr. Morrow has a penchant for British literature.

In the case of the panel above, wherein the good doctor is on trial for his actions while caring for the "Patient from the Black Lagoon," Dr. Morrow can't help but go to the classic William Blake poem, "The Tyger":
When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee? 

In this line, Blake references his earlier poem, “The Lamb,” and, in doing so, highlights one of the major questions addressed in his Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. What Blake is asking here, in plainer English, is “Wait…is God personally involved in ALL of this? Even the really evil stuff?” Interestingly enough, I also posed this question to my AP Language and Composition class this week as we reviewed Donne's poem (from which Gunther took his title) during our consideration of Gunther's memior Death Be Not Proud.

The connection? The question raised by Blake (and Dr. Morrow) is also one that the Old Testament's Book of Job brings up. The Book of Job is also the singular Biblical text that the author's agnostic son has an interest in reading upon being diagnosed with a terminal illness--the thrust of Gunther's book.

One could extrapolate that Dr. Morrow, upon viewing this grotesque "monster," is himself questioning not only the nature of good and evil, but also God's role in allowing such evil to exist and further harm those who might otherwise be perceived as "good." Granted, this is some pretty heavy thinking for a throwaway line on the opening page of an indepedent horror comic, but it is the rare treat that one does not always necessarily find in your standard Avengers book.

I look forward to following more of Dr. Morrow's adventures in the near future...

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