STORY BY: Ryan Cady
ART BY: Michael Turner, Various
COVER BY: Laura Braga
PUBLISHER: Top Cow Productions
Ryan Cady presents us with a look into Witchblade cases past and present filling in potential new readers to the series as well as having an extended look at the deeply personal relationship that Sara has with an another Artifact bearer, that of Jackie Esatacdo, The Darkness.
It is clear why Top Cow have published this book now as they are gearing up for the long awaited Death of Jackie Estacado in the next few issues of Witchblade. As they seem to be dialling back on the Artifacts expanded universe with the recent cancellations of Artifacts and The Darkness this book serves as a great reminder of all that has transpired and what has gotten us to this point since the Rebirth era began and serves to introduce characters that new or just readers of Witchblade may have seen or in fact to remind us that they are there at all. It has a solid design taking on the appearance of Sara’s personal case file and all that she has collected since being the bearer of the Witchblade. Overall it is a great trip down memory lane seeing characters new and old and remembering issues past.
The main pull for me though was the Darkness back up story at the end of this book, I was shocked to see a Darkness back up in a Witchblade book nevertheless “working late” shows us a glimpse of Jackie’s early years as a kid just starting out life in the Franchetti crime family. The one thing that this book does is also help flesh out another long standing (and fan favourite character) Butcher Joyce. This short tale provides a great glimpse into the paternal nature that Butcher feels for Jackie and really shows how both characters came to hold such a great respect and friendship in later years. Instilling in Jackie some character traits that shine through even to the end of the current run of Darkness.
The art by Mike Crawford does a good job at selling this story, with clean panels and very detailed art. It has a more whimsical nature or cartoony look, that considering the source material and the overall very dark nature of this story can be quite jarring. Thankfully the colours from Eddy Swan help sell Crawford’s pencils adopting a very dark tone as you would expect from a story involving The Darkness. Crawford’s characters are wonderfully expressive especially the young Jackie and you can sense his discomfort and worry whilst talking to Butcher throughout the events of this tale.
Overall for long time readers Witchblade Casefiles is not a necessary book but, it does very nice summarisation of the events that have bought us to this point with Sara and Jackie about to lock horns. It is a must read for Darkness fans however, who will take quite a lot from the delightful short found the back of this book.
By Matt Deery