By Corey Fryia with Tony Gregori, Joshua Jensen, Felipe Cunha, Jasen Smith, Matt Horak, Doug Garback, Mark Dale and Taylor Esposito

The first issue of the new indie comic Doctor Crowe is a creative tour de force. Produced by a small army of artists and colorists — with exceptional, across the board lettering by Taylor Esposito — this book manages a singular voice without sacrificing individual styles. There’s never a dull moment in story or art, making for a really dynamic comic. You get three extremely well-rounded short stories in this first twenty-eight page issue, which not only introduces us to protagonist Dr. Victor Crowe, but also shows us just what the doctor/adventurer is up against.

Crowe travels the globe with his sidekick assistant battling gruesome, supernatural terrors in what is essentially a pulp fan’s dream come true. Armed with more than just medicine, the good doctor has cleverly designed gadgets and abilities that allow him to fight evil on its own turf, even in the dreams of others. It’s pure mystery with a hefty dose of horror and a touch of steampunk goth, all while the borderless Dr. Crowe fights to open the world’s eyes to the horrors on their doorstep.

Stories can take place anywhere and with a variety of patients in very desperate need, whether they are living or otherwise. Co-creators Corey Fryia and Matt Horak toss us right into the fray, bringing us up to speed without a ton of wordy exposition, besides a nice opening letter from the main character. Within just a few pages we’re up to our ears in terrible situations, but there is a sort of built-in reassurance that everything will work out as long as Crowe is on the scene. Of course, one potential twist that would make for a nice development in future issues would be showing Crowe in dire straits of his own. Luckily for us, his confidence in this first issue drives the plot beyond a single chapter. Like any good scientist, there’s no end to the lessons learned and all new developments should be shared far and wide in order to cease the spread of sickness, evil, or both.

You’ll find yourself fully engaged and thrilled from cover to cover. This is rock solid writing with a great artistic team, each of which seems qualified to take on the entire book alone if need be. Meantime, there’s nothing wrong with a collaborative effort, though it’s worth mentioning again how their combined styles make for a unique and concise identity. There is a consistent tone, with gritty, real-world sets and costume designs that are in contrast with the more fantastic elements. Even if there is a degree of steampunk blended in, this book feels like a piece out of our history vs. a make-believe world. Color explodes at just the right moments and does it’s job to ground the situation in reality the rest of the time. The book has an extraordinary feel and look to it throughout, but the various talents involved know just when to hold back and when to let loose.

You can’t go wrong with Doctor Crowe, it’s a wonderful pulp-inspired concept perfectly fit for comics. Tell a friend and give your local shop the head’s up that this is going to be a good one!

Doctor Crowe #1 will be released December 7th from 215 Ink


About The Author Matthew Strackbein

Matt Strackbein was born and raised in Maryland but has called Colorado home for the last 17 years where he lives happily in Longmont with his wife. He began reading comic books at the age of seven after discovering a silver age stash in his grandparents’ attic. Comic books inspired Matt to start drawing, which lead to a successful career as a commercial artist. He has worked in the apparel industry for many years as a production artist and designer. His accomplishments include designing backcountry skiwear for world-class athletes as well as downhill ski race suit designs for the 2014 Winter Olympics for the United States and Canadian national ski teams. Matt currently works as a freelance textile-print designer, but still dedicates time to his first love – comics. With over 200 letters to the editor published, Matt is a known letterhack. He self-publishes autobiographical comics about his struggles to break into the industry, which finally paid off when Dark Horse asked him to produce 2-page back up stories in recent issues of B.P.R.D. Besides his own comics, Matt collaborates on independent books as a colorist and letterer. He also teaches the art of making comics to students of all ages.