"Road Trip" Part I
Writer: David Wohl
Artists: Francis Manapul(p), Billy Tan, Marlo Alquiza, Mark Prudeaux, Jeff De Los Santos, Rick Basaldua and Joe Weems(i),Biran Buccellato(c)
Since David Wohl and Francis Manapul returned to Witchblade and all the nonsense with the Darkness and the warrior nun person has seemed to end, I thought it might be a good time to reacquaint myself with Sara Pezzini. While I still like Sara and the story is clutter-free, the reunion is still bittersweet.
Sara is in usual fine form. David Wohl fills her narration with a self-defeating wit. Sara will tell herself not to follow the teenager, but she does so anyway. Her actions portray her however as an experienced and caring hero that really does not deserve the faux titilating reputation.
The plot she finds herself in is pretty decent and eerie. The situation does warrant her investigation and her particular type of heroism. This isn't a plot where she can be replaced without an extensive rewrite by any hero.
The story surprises. The opening of course was predictable, and every reader knew that against her better judgment, Sara would follow the teenager, but the ending to this chapter is surprising especially when the narration remarks on the same objection the reader raises in his own head.
One plot point does stand out as inexcusable. Sara Pezinni loses her gun again! I can accept somebody in Vampirella/Witchblade with supernaturally enhanced reflexes stealing her gun. I cannot accept a simple pickpocket doing the same especially when the little thief does not come near Pez to carry out the crime. Teleportation says you? Then why even use the gun? It's the one part of the story that snaps the suspension of disbelief. Quite a bit of the story hinges on this circumstance, and as a result, the story without a rational explanation becomes weaker.
Artistically, this issue of Witchblade is not the best. Mr. Manapul definitely does not rely upon skin quotient to portray Pez as an empowered woman, and his pencils and choreography of the tale have a sense of cinema. The inking however stinks up the pencils with manga influences that conflict with the mood and the dramatic nature of the hero. Maybe it's just me. I do passionately hate manga. Manapul's previous issues are superior, and that's partially because the inkers for those issues downplayed Image's Americanime excesses.
David Wohl and Francis Manapul set out to make Witchblade more than just a female hero whose power includes instantaneous shredding of wardrobe, and to a certain extent, they have succeeded. Manapul brings a sense of anatomy and proportion to the book that it never before had, but the inking refuses to shed the house-style that on a purely personal level nauseates and in a more objective frame of reference hampers the horrific or dark fantasy tone.
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