Witchblade #175 (Comics Review)

It certainly is no secret that making it past double digits is an immense challenge for comics these days, what with all the relaunches and reboots that seem to happen every now and then. But when a title has been going on for almost two decades, almost without interruption, that’s when you know that things are going good. Last year Ron Marz and Laura Braga created a new jump-on point for new readers of Witchblade with #170 and they did it with little fanfare but lots of awesome. And they’ve been going at it ever since, turning out one good story after another.

Witchblade celebrated its 175th issue last week and again, this was all without fanfare. I actually didn’t know that issue #175 was going to be a special anniversary issue with more than twice the content until I picked up the issue and started reading. Ron and Laura wrapped up their first arc on the series last month and now they delve into new territory as they explore some of the more ephemeral and psychological aspects of the Witchblade, and the bonus content rocked from start to finish as well, including a short story from a completely different creative team.

Last month, Sara Pezzini and the Witchblade defeated the Angelus in open combat and gained a respite for themselves following that battle. The first arc was about Sara reclaiming the Witchblade after more than two years of having abandoned it and her responsibility of being the balancing force between the Darkness and the Angelus, the two mystical immortal forces for evil and good in the universe. But such a reclamation does not come without a price and in the main story here, Ron Marz explores the Witchblade’s own thoughts and personality, for it is not just a sentient artefact like others, it can pull Sara into a mindscape where it stands in judgement of her and can anthropomorphize itself so it can interact with her more… intimately and with more violence even.

The nature of their relationship with each other has always been uncertain to a degree, but one thing has always been clear: the Witchblade often does what it wants, Sara’s wishes be damned. And that’s what she confronts the Witchblade with, seeking to renegotiate their relationship and make it more in her favour. Ron’s writing is pretty much solid here and I loved how he did it all, starting from the first page to the last page, and how he pulled Deputy Rooney into the whole thing.

After that, we get a teaser (I think, or it could be half the issue even) at Witchblade #176, which for the first time I believe, introduces us to a previous Witchblade bearer from Japan, Shiori. It is a great setting and though we see very little of Shiori ultimately, she makes for a great kickass character, and I certainly would have liked to see more of her. Perhaps Ron can tackle that in the future with a one-shot or something. This one appears to be a fairly simple-tale as per the teaser here, so I hope that the issue itself is much more substantial.

Finally, we have an extra bonus story by Ashley Robinson and she tackles the Witchblade from the point of view of Patrick Gleason, Sara’s partner and fellow NYPD cop. He’s always getting mixed in with her cases and always plays second fiddle to the Witchblade in any situation requiring physical action. It is a really nice piece that delves into Patrick’s psychology and I loved it. Perhaps we can get more of these via some kind of backup stories, and I’d love if Ashley was the writer on these. She does a great job of getting into Patrick’s head here.

Laura Braga, Betsy Gonia and Troy Peteri are the artists for the first two stories here, with Carlos Rodriguez, Bill Farmer and Troy Peteri being the artists for the third and final story. One thing is for sure, Laura Braga and Betsy Gonia absolutely get the whole creepy and supernatural vibe of this series. Their rendition of Witchblade as both a giant freaking cat-monster and then a humanoid is scarily good. And in the bonus content from #176, their rendition of the villain is even better, and kind of fits in with the whole Japanese aesthetic I think. Excellent, excellent stuff. In the final story, Carlos and Bill do their own job at keeping things consistent. Their art is less flamboyant than that of Laura and Betsy, but is no less impressive for that, and it has a more… traditional style that I’m used to. So awesome job all around.

Oh and the main story has a scene where Sara meets with several previous bearers of the Witchblade in a dream sequence and I loved the entire framework for it, since it fit well with the context of Sara coming back to reclaim the Witchblade for her own. Amazing artwork here.

For an anniversary issue, Witchblade #175 hits all the right notes for me, and is certainly the absolute best issue of the series under Ron Marz since his return to the title last year. When do we get more?

Rating: 9.5/10

More Witchblade: #170, #171, #172, #173, #174.

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Posted on June 10, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

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