Review: Witchblade #1

So what happens when that which used to bring joy, suddenly begins to feels its age and the panache of early passion wanes?  No you don’t get a divorce; you get a reboot!

Years ago Marc SIlvestri and the late Michael Turner created a character that would come to symbolise Top Cow’s creative senses and sensibilities.  With the original Witchblade, Sara, walking away from her life back in 2015, the time has come for the mystical armour to take a new bride.

Alex Underwood works for the Witness Aid Service Unit, looking to escape her past by helping the present.  In this case its the beaten wife of a heavy-handed cop.  Whilst, on the case Alex comes a cropper dies and without her help the cop is out on bail and starts swinging for the stands, to the detriment of his wife.  Still, “death is not the end.  Death is a doorway” and Alex, sporting a new bracelet is quickly on the heels of the would-be-killer where a confrontation begins to show what is ahead.

Coffin Hill writer Caitlin Kittredge helms this ship, with a story about a woman trying to make a social stance being metaphorically beaten and relying on a greater power to aid her mission.  Whilst that pretty much encapsulates a large part of superhero books, for a character that had previously had a high issue count and history I expected something more.  With the focus on the character, the issue can feel a little choppy, through the weight of expectation and maybe by trying to incorporate the new with the familiar,  Dialogue wise, the book has an easy flow, progressing along as you’d pretty much expect, even if the dream sequences adds a level of uncertainty.

Roberta Ingranata provides the art in a manner that pleasantly surprised me.  I have seen Ingranata’s work before on a range of Zenescope books, which as a house style has tried to accentuate frame-work over facial elements.  Here Ingranata, surpasses her origins, just like Alex herself, to deliver pages that work coherently within the structure of the story.  It must be difficult for any artist to step into the shoes of such an iconic character.  Readers may be disappointed by the fact that certain elements do not come to fruition, but that can’t really be  placed at the feet of the artist, who has to work the script and plot given.  What Ingranata does well, is mixing panel structures and camera angles to keep the reader interested.  Colors are provided by Bryan Valenza, giving the book a professional  look with digital elements to give the mystical elements a pop.

Fans of this character will probably be divided; they will either love or hate the new version on show,  Is it old or new?  Sara or Alex?  Looking back at the previous reviews regarding Witchblade, I certainly came to the party late as the book I saw leave the stand two years ago, was certainly nowhere near the quality of the book when it started.  Maybe it is time to leave the previous 185 issues and take this book for what it is trying to be; which really depends on your point of view.  Is it a new book living of the coat tails of its past, or like Alex, is it a book that is trying to forge ahead regardless of its past?  Whichever is your perception, the truth of the book is that it is an enjoyable little re-introduction to a type of world that has been missing from the comic racks.

Writing – 3.5 Stars
Art – 4 Stars
Colors -4.5 Stars

Writing by: Caitlin Kittredge
Art by; Roberta Ingranata
Colors by; Bryan Valenza
Published by; Top Cow / Image Comics


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