Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Getting Graphic: Witchblade Vol 1 (2017) Review

Title: Witchblade Vol 1 (2017)
Author: Caitlin Kittredge
Artist: Robert Ingranata
Pages: 152
ISBN: 9781534306851
Collects issues #1-6
Publisher: Image Comics
Published: 17 July 2018
Genre: Comic & Graphic Novels / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

Buy it from:
The Book Depository

Gunned down and left for dead on a New York rooftop, Alex Underwood's life should have ended there-but instead, at the moment of death, she became host to the Witchblade, a mystical artifact that grants the woman wielding it extraordinary powers. But the power comes with a heavy cost, and Alex finds herself thrust into the center of an unseen battle raging on the snowy streets of NYC. Demons are real and walking among humans, and every one of them is intent on taking out the Witchblade's newest host before she becomes too strong to kill. But the artifact chose Alex for a reason, and she's not going down without a fight.

My introduction to the Witchblade franchise came, not through the comics, but through the TV series from 2001 starring actress Yancy Butler. I was intrigued by the magical armor and the concept of the show and it has stuck with me since then. When I saw that a new reboot for the Witchblade comics was in the works I just had to give them a try.

The Witchblade reboot focuses on an entirely new protagonist, Alex Underwood, as she struggles with her own traumatic past while coming to grips with the fact that she is now the new vessel of the Witchblade, a mystical artifact that grants extraordinary powers to the woman that wields it. Dark forces are at work and with her newfound abilities still in their infancy she becomes a prime target.

Bits of Witchblade lore are revealed
The narrative is compelling and draws you in, but the various flashbacks can be jarring and there are times where it felt that the continuity was somewhat off.  Alex meets a mysterious man who acts as a guiding figure to her, he never introduces himself, yet in later panels she somehow calls him by name. You get flashbacks showcasing bits of Witchblade history, but you never get to know how Alex actually came to possess the artifact.

The artwork is stunning and has a dark, gritty vibe to it with vibrant colours adding a dash of visual magic. The facial features of some of the characters can be indistinct, making it difficult to differentiate between some of the male characters.

My major complaint is that the battle scenes lacked depth. Every conflict seemed to be resolved through magic without much real action taking place - whoosh, magic happens and the bad guy is defeated.

The armor lacks detail and definition.
I was also disappointed that the Witchblade is never depicted as a gauntlet or weapon; the armor Alex wields towards the end has no real detail and definition. A big draw for me was the promise of seeing an amazing magical artifact in action and the end result didn't quite deliver. Hopefully this is only the groundwork for greater things to come, perhaps, as Alex reconciles with and grows in power the Witchblade will take on more definition and form. They might just have a trick up their sleeve...

Despite the issues there's a lot to like here. I got a real kick from the ending - a veritable declaration of war!

The Verdict:
While I enjoyed reading Witchblade Vol 1, I felt that the story and artwork lacked detail and depth at times. I would have loved to have seen more Witchblade lore being revealed and the Witchblade itself being more of a focal point. The reboot certainly has promise and it will be interesting to see where the all-female creative team takes it next.

The Rating: 6/10 (Good)

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