Doctor Spektor: Master of the Occult

Doctor Spektor: Master of the Occult
Doctor Spektor Master of the Occult review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Dynamite - 978-1-60690-561-6
  • Release date: 2015
  • UPC: 9781606905616
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Supernatural

Back in the day Doctor Spektor was a monster hunter in a series of horror tales, introducing a supernatural anthology comic, so Mark Waid’s recasting of him as the host of a TV show ending supernatural menaces is a clever updating. We’re shown Spektor at work dealing with a vampire efficiently, but the truth is that he’s far from the confident, almost smug personality he presents for the camera. He has his own demons he battles regularly off camera, and we’re introduced to the real Spektor via his new assistant Abby, at which point it all becomes confusing.

This is deliberate, Waid disorienting as we tour assorted locations decidedly unsure of what’s happening or where anyone is, dead or alive. Are the random attacks in Spektor’s head or is he far from being master of his own destiny? There’s more certainty about what Abby’s experiencing being real, as she’s an innocent, but it’s no less confusing. None of that is down to artist Neil Edwards, who’s a bastion of clear storytelling, and the slightly grittier style of Robert Castro to finish things off is no disappointment either.

Until the halfway point all is well and good. We all want a bit of mystery to our supernatural characters, and the intrigue tops the confusion. Even Magnus Robot Fighter dropping by from the future is okay in context, but the longer Doctor Spektor continues, the more mysteries and characters are thrown in, and the explanations are just technobabble. To seal what’s become a profoundly unsatisfying experience, the entire story ends with the revelation that it’s nothing but a lead into Solar: Man of the Atom. What a disappointment.

It should also be mentioned that the story content of Doctor Spektor only occupies around two-thirds of the page count. The back third is taken up with Waid’s script for the first chapter, and 26 pages of cover reproductions. If you like the work of Francesco Francavilla, Ken Haeser, Phil Hester, Jae Lee and Christian Ward you’ll find four illustrations from each, while several others contribute a single pin-up.