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Witchblade Vol. 5 Trade Paperback Review

Written by: Gary M. Kenny, CC2K Comics Editor


ImageLight verses dark, angel verses devil, most worldly or outer worldly stories discuss the theme of good verses evil. The stories in Witchblade usually revolve around the balance between the two. So, is Volume 5 yet another themed tale about good verse evil? Well, not quite, according to Ron Marz “not all good guys wear white and have wings.” Besides a very interesting plot line, Volume 5 is filled with Top Cow’s A-list characters, demons, angels, sexy ass babes and a very important baby. It is a blockbuster of highly detailed battles, original twists, and to top it off: it has girls in medieval bikinis.

“Conception” & “First Born” parts 1-3

Writer – Ron Marz

Artist – Stjepan Sejic

Letters- Troy Peteri

“Flights of Angels”

Writer – Ron Marz

Pencils – Luke Ross

Ink – Kevin Nowlan

Color – Nathan Fairbairn

Letters- Troy Peteri

“Temptation”

Writer – Ron Marz

Pencils – Stephen Sadowski

Ink – Kevin Nowlan

Color – Nathan Fairbairn

Letters- Troy Peteri

“Shadows and Light”

Writer – Ron Marz

Pencils – Rick Leonardi

Ink – Kevin Nowlan

Color – Dave McCaig

Letters- Troy Peteri

“Life in Boxes” and “The Residents”

Writer – Ron Marz and Ian Edginton

Pencils – Sami Basri

Color – Imaginary Friends Studios

Letters- Troy Peteri

“Divided”

Writer – Ron Marz

Pencils – Sami Basri

Color – Imaginary Friends Studios

Letters- Troy Peteri

 

Unfamiliar with Witchblade? This trade starts with a quick summary of all the characters. As a first time reader (yet not totally unfamiliar with the characters) this helped me jump into the story without having to know too much of the who’s who and the what’s what in the Image/Top Cow world. The story is as follows: The Witchblade, an artifact that was born out of both light and dark, was created to maintain a balance between good and evil, almost like a line dividing both yin and yang. The original bearer of the Witchblade, police officer Sara Pezzini has mysteriously been impregnated while she was hospitalized and in a coma. Once revived, Sara decided to keep the baby, despite the bizarre circumstances. She then gave up the Witchblade. Dannielle Baptiste, a dance student and the daughter of Sara’s boss, inherited the Witchblade from Sara.

 

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Danni now controls the Witchblade, yet Sara is shown within the trade as the main character. Danni makes very little impact to the story, mostly because she is shown to be as important as a kid sidekick would be (think Speedy to Green Arrow). In the beginning of this trade, her characterization needs more depth but as the trade comes closer to the end, her personality starts to develop.

Later on in "First Born", Mafia Crime lord Jackie Estacado a.k.a. the Darkness (another top level character) had learned that he was the one who impregnated Sara. Jackie is the human host for a devil type being of immense dark powers. Being the Darkness’s host, Jackie controls demons and goblins, and in exchange for these powers, he is forbidden to have sex. If he breaks this abstinence policy, he’ll be devoured by the Darkness and his curse will carry to his offspring. So how did Jackie impregnate Sara? Ron Marz comes up with a neat little answer and it totally changes Jackie Estacado’s relationship with the Darkness and how Sara now sees Jackie.

The story begins to get twisted when the Angelous becomes involved. The Angelous is the embodiment of light, the total opposite of the Darkness. The Angelous is supposed to reflect the power of God. Now that Sara’s baby might tip that balance between good and evil, the winged angels are hunting Sara down so they can kill the unborn child. The Angelous, whose original host had passed, searches for a new host. The Angelous finds serial killer and pain-in-the-butt Witchblade villain Celestine. By choosing such a villain to be the host of the Angelous, Ron Marz secretly asks the reader “who really is the bad guy?” The answer might be that no one is truly good, that both parties have to do what they must to win and this causes Sara (Witchblade-less) to remain as the good and evil balance. However, when both parties seem evil at times and good at times, what balance is there?

As the trade goes on, we meet Patience, a descendant of Christ, who goes around hunting demons as the Magdalena. Her presence is only necessary in the trade for symbolic reasons. Sara is supposed to reflect the essence of the Virgin Mary for she is mysteriously impregnated without conception. She is also symbolic to Jesus because in the end of the "First Born" arc, she is reborn. Magdalena plays a role, not as a Christ descendant, but that of a Wiseman who brings forth a gift of protection at the very moment Sara gives birth. Ron Marz really plays a lot with the idea of Christianity and the holy birth and that is what makes this trade feel fresh and fun. It’s not really too blasphemous, and for new readers it’s a great place to jump right into the Witchblade world.

Though the plot in First Born is compelling and very entertaining, the real enjoyment is the eye candy created by Stjepan Sejic. His style combines that of Mike Deodato Jr. and Greg Horn. He mixes the tone of his monsters and shadows to be as intense as Deodato Jr’s, and his art feels (digitally) painted and larger than life like Greg Horn’s art. It takes over the trade, and every story not involving Stjepan Sejic seems rather plain and less dynamic. Not to say the other artists, such as Sami Basri, are terrible, but for Witchblade their styles are not as gripping as Sejic’s. For instance, Basri’s art demonstrates Witchblade in a way that flows like a good Saturday morning cartoon. This style might seem more suitable for a comic like Amazing Spider-Man. Basri does offer a fresh tone for the post-"First Born" arc, but again it’s Sejic who owns this trade.

The post-"First Born" stories are great filler for the rest of the trade. They let you know what happens to the key players after the "First Born" arc and it makes Witchblade a fun read. None of the stories are that dramatic in comparison to "First Born", but again they are interesting and fun.

This trade comes out in just enough time for a new reader to latch on to Witchblade, and it’s only a comic or two shy from bringing the reader up to date. It is a great collection of stories and it’s nice to read a comic where the players aren’t so black and white. I didn’t ruin any big surprises or the ending in this review, so I implore you to please pick this up and enjoy it as much as I did.

4.0 out of 5.0

 

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Author: Gary M. Kenny, CC2K Comics Editor

Gary is a husband, father, fireman, comic reader, gamer, body builder, and rocker. He also is a co-owner of a bakery in upstate NY. He likes to tell everyone his favorite band is the Beatles, when his actual favorite band is the Alkaline Trio.

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