Get a dose of real medical terminology with your sickening supervillains.
“Jeff [Dyer] and I both wanted MediSIN to be a unique reading experience with lots of character development, action and twists,” says Dr. Mark McKeon of his co-writer on the Action Lab mini-series, the opening volume of which, First Do No Harm, is available now. That could describe a lot of comics, but there’s something else that sets MediSIN apart.
“We approached the medical lingo carefully, but ultimately decided that if this world was going to work, we would have to go all in on much of the specialized language,” McKeon says.
Yes, the “Dr.” is an MD, originally brought in as just a consultant on MediSIN, but it quickly became apparent to Dyer that he’d need a larger role on the book centered around supervillain healthcare.
So while the doctors under the employ of the madman Malady ponder whether they’re doing more harm than good by treating the bad guys that no one else will, McKeon spices those philosophic questions up with detailed and accurate combat diagnoses.
“It would be great if people read MediSIN and came away with an expanded medical vocabulary,” McKeon says.
But it’s not all comminuted distal fractures and acromioclavicular separations. The tools of the trade, like central line kits and craniotomy trays, also get their due, as does the mental health profession. One of the more compelling characters introduced by Dyer and McKeon is a psychologist with a tendency to give a little too much attention to her younger patients.
Many of the doctors working for the biggest supervillain in Dyer’s universe get backstories in the three issues of First Do No Harm, edging out the medical terminology a bit toward the end, and a lot of them are equally creepy. A dash of raunchy jokes and genuinely horrific moments show why Action Lab has labeled this as for “mature readers,” which is something of a shame, as it probably limits the audience the cool medical stuff can then reach. At least we see that the villains really are worse than the heroes in the full volume, something that was strangely debatable in the debut issue.
The philosophy is subsequently more focused as MediSIN goes on, and while the other players get some spotlight, the ostensible main character gets shunted to the side a little. The little character studies (and full-on profiles, added to puff out the three issues of First Do No Harm to 96 pages) are nice, though the flashback device gets a little tedious when used so often, and it may be kind of wasted space if the series never extends past the originally set six issues.
The art by David Brame continues to hinder MediSIN‘s overall presentation, as it’s hard to even tell what’s going on in some of the more visually-driven flashbacks. Joaquin Pereyra’s colors save it somewhat, as they’re bright enough to connote a superhero universe, but the emphasis on purples and greens reminds the reader which side these guys are on. To the credit of the entire art team, Malady is revealed to look much like a steampunk plague doctor, which is about as perfect an image as you can get.
Ultimately, MediSIN Volume 1: First Do No Harm, presents interesting looks at complex characters, although their motivations are sometimes trumped by plot points and their dialogue can tend to sound like that of 12-year-olds changing for gym class. The medical descriptions can be nicely woven into the overall story, but are just as often thrown out almost as Easter eggs and not followed up on, something McKeon says won’t be the case in volume 2.
“If you like the first story arc, stay tuned,” McKeon says. “It gets crazier and the medical science component continues to be an integral part of our story.”