"Doctor Spektor: Master of the Occult #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Written by Mark Waid
Illustrated by Neil Edwards
2014, 24 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on May 28th, 2014
Oh, reality TV. Is there anything you won't do? Judging from the fact that there's now a program in which a group of women are tricked into competing to marry a man they think is Prince Harry, I'm going to say “No.” Reality shows based in comics have a lot more to offer, as is the case with Doctor Spektor: Master of the Occult. The title character is the host of a show in which he tackles various supernatural creatures, including vampires, wolves, and something called a “Lunasaur.” When confronting a softball target in the form of a Florida-based spiritualist, things get a little crazy and now Spektor isn't sure what to believe.
Doctor Spektor is part of the Gold Key line that Dynamite has been relaunching. So far, this is the only comic that has shown a bit of a tie-in to the others (Solar: Man of the Atom, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, and Magnus: Robot Fighter). All of them have been pretty solid so far, with great creative teams. I was unfamiliar with these characters outside of some of their names up until this relaunch. Fortunately, you don't have to know any of the backstory behind them before diving into this or any of the other comics.
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Author Mark Waid shows a tortured side to Spektor. While he is a natural in front of the camera and fearless when confronting monsters, he is constantly battling depression. The highs he gets from the TV show are balanced by incredible lows after the experience is over. When he is in this state, he tries to communicate with a mysterious woman that no one else can see. It's said that he “…almost sees her when he closes his eyes – but not quite. He has no actual memory of this person. Just a feeling. Just a hurt.” This unattainable woman has been haunting Spektor for some time. I don't know what he would do if he ever actually got ahold of her.
Neil Edwards brings another level of emotion to Doctor Spektor. He has a talent for facial expressions, telling so much with just a look. There's a scene where Spektor's producer and assistant go to his home to try to snap him out of his post-show funk. This jumps to a shot of Spektor asleep on his bed, then a panel with the mystery woman, then the same panel of Spektor, but now his eyes are open and tears are streaming down his face. Nothing else is said about this during the dialogue but it speaks volumes.
On the other end of the spectrum, Spektor is laid-back and sly, always with a smirk on his face. When he's in his element, nothing can touch him, even when he's face-to-face with a vampire. These little subtleties really add to the comic.
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There are also no less than ten different covers for this issue, each by top-notch artists (except maybe the blank one...that one is pretty plain). The stand out is the main cover, drawn by Christian Ward. It shows Spektor atop a mountain of skeletons, all of which are clawing up his body. He's standing there, arms at his side, powerless to do anything, but he doesn't appear worried or the least bit involved with them.
Doctor Spektor: Master of the Occult adds a unique supernatural element to Dynamite's Gold Key line. It doesn't just toss in some werewolves and call itself a horror comic. Instead, Waid has created a flawed character struggling with his own success while also dealing with ghosts and vampires, all while in front of a camera.