World Comic Book Review

A Deep Six’d Publication

29th November 2022

Death Head: The Doctor Will See You Now

Death Head #1 – 6 (review)
Dark Horse Comics, July 2015 – February 2016
Writers: Zack Keller, Nick Keller

In the 17th and 18th centuries, medical physicians in Europe who treated victims of the bubonic plague wore beak-like masks with glass eye openings, the design of which was attributed to Louis XIII’s chief physician Charles De Lorme. The masks contained various scented materials and straw intended to filter putrid air, which doctors of the time believed was the primary vehicle for the plague.

This practical purpose of the beak masks was probably unknown to the people the medics treated. The mask coupled with the heavy waxed fabric overcoat that some (not all) plague doctors used would have made for a menacing visual, which given the context, most likely made the physicians an unwelcome sight to their patients – a portent of doom in the shape of a human carrion bird.

The plague doctor, both in image and in history, lay at the center of the six-issue horror miniseries “Death Head”. Written by brothers Zack and Nick Keller, this eerie horror story feels like a love letter to various horror movie sub genres, while working within the constraints of the comic book medium.

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