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Comic Review: Witchblade #134 & 135
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Witchblade #135Witchblade #134 & #135
Almost Human: Parts 1 & 2 (of 3)
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Stjepan Sejic
Letters by Troy Peteri
Top Cow
Price: $2.99
Release date: March 03, 2010 [#135]

I came to Witchblade armed with nothing but Wikipedia and an open mind, and as such, I concede that great chunks of the story probably went over my head. But long-running series like this one can’t do well unless new readers can come in a hundred issues in and still find something to appreciate. While I didn’t find the experience unpleasant, there wasn’t much that compelled me to explore further, either.

A quick summary for the other noobs out there: Witchblade centers around Sara Pezzini, an NYPD detective and the current wielder of said Witchblade, a powerful supernatural weapon that can shift its shape to protect and aid the user. These two issues in particular, #134 and #135, are the first two books of a three-part arc about Sara tracking down the green-haired cyborg assassin called Aphrodite IV, who works for the shadowy, uncreatively named organization Cyberdata.

It’s not a terrible concept, but doesn’t seem to be fleshed out. Sara is clearly meant to be a tough yet moral character. Like so many of the great superheroes before her, she’s more than capable of kicking serious ass, but she won’t kill (or condone killing) unless it’s absolutely necessary. However, her personality — or, for that matter, any character’s — never moves past these vaguely heroic traits. Plotting and dialogue prove similarly generic. An early scene in #134 shows scientists standing over Aphrodite IV, announcing, “Once we have her patched up, Aphrodite IV is going to do exactly what we created her for… go kill someone.” This after it’s already been made abundantly clear that Aphrodite IV’s big mission right now is to kill a specific character. From there, #134 follows Sara as she tracks down the shadowy Aphrodite IV, but her search comes together so easily — a brilliant parrot here, a conveniently knowledgeable friend there, plus, of course, the fact that no one with bright green hair is going to stay hidden for very long — that it feels perfunctory. #135 features some excitement in the form of vibrant, if not terribly original, fight scenes, but once again we see Sara not so much overcoming obstacles as watching them fall down around her.

A few things did stand out for me, giving me clues as to why longtime readers might have cared enough to stick around for over a hundred issues. The ideas here — ancient, magical weapons! a killer cyborg! — are fun ones, even if the execution is uninspired. Scenes hint that previous books have explored a darker side of Sara, which may have helped give her the third dimension she so desperately needs. (Here’s where I believe that more prior knowledge may have been helpful.) And while I found Stjepan Sejic’s art to be uneven, at its best it could be quite striking.

Of course, I have no way of knowing if these issues were the series at its worst, or at its best. If you’ve stuck with the series this far, I can’t see this mediocre outing turning you off completely. But I can’t say it’s drawing this newcomer in, either. There are a million sci-fi comics out there, even some featuring mystical weapons and sexy killing machines. It’d take a serious improvement on all sides to convince me that I should read this particular title over any other.

1 Comment »

  1. In defense of “Witchblade,” the book just came off a heavy, character-driven storyline, “War of the Witchblades.” The story in 134 and 135 is fun popcorn fantasy; kind of a break from the heavy drama of the past 10 issues or so. But give the book a chance. I’ve been a reader since issue one. It’s got its moments.

    Comment by Stephen Pytak — March 23, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

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