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Witches #1

Posted: Saturday, June 12, 2004
By: Ray Tate



Writer: Brian Patrick Walsh
Artists: Mike Deodato Jr., Cream Animation(c)
Publisher: Marvel

"Oooo...Would you look at this. It's hip-hop Barbie and her token ethnic friend. This is gonna be fun."--Satana

Actually, it was.

I expected very little from Witches. I have been a fan of Mike Deodato Jr. since encountering his artwork on Wonder Woman. So, basically, I expected that I would only like the artwork. Certainly, he does not disappoint. Shadows swathe the characters and the setting to give the whole book a supernatural eerie occult feeling. One however should not conclude the shadows are masks for poor anatomy. That is sometimes the case, but Deodato's characters are fully rendered through sound anatomic principles.

You can obviously see by observing the cover--done by Deodato--that without a doubt he is a babe artist, but you can also see that his babes are given realistic curves, textured complexions and hair, honed musculatures and most important distinctive visual personalities.

Deodato takes equal care when illustrating Dr. Strange. Mr. Deodato has sketched Dr. Strange before in Elektra the series before the current volume, and it is in Dr. Strange that you can see what Deodato can do when he has the luxury of time. Even his rushed issues of Elektra were better than some of the ham-fisted work out there, but his artwork on Witches just outdoes everything he has done in the past.

Deodato is foremost on this book a storycrafter. His composition for the story is certain and professional. Case in point, when a disturbance upsets the supernatural world, Deodato creates a two page spread where a multiple paneled cross-section set against Stephen Strange's surroundings depict Marvel's resident magic users distinctively reacting to the disturbance.

This brings me to the second reason why I decided to give the book a try. I cannot name every character in the panel grid. I know however quite a few, and I know the ladies on the cover. Satana is the daughter of Satan, and a helluva lot nicer than her fruitcake brother Damien Hellstorm. I think she even teamed up with Spidey once. Jennifer Kale was a supporting character in Man-Thing. Topaz hung around with Jack Ryder in Werewolf By Night. Amazingly, the history of Marvel's universe--barring the X-Men and Spider clones--is more comprehensible than the history of DC's post-Crisis universe. That's sad when you think about it. This is why I am not interested in Identity Crisis. The truth of the matter is that I couldn't tell you who was in the Justice League during any era because the roster changes hourly on the whim of whatever creator is in charge.

"Prince Ra-Man was in the League! What! When!"

"Loeb says so."

"He also said that Phobos was orbiting Pluto."

"Must be true then."

Seeing three characters who I know on the cover of a book and not having to guess about their history factored into my buying Witches. It doesn't hurt that it's a dollar cheaper than Identity Crisis either.

The biggest surprise from Witches comes from writer Brian Patrick Walsh. Never heard of him, but he observes continuity, gives the stars zest, confidence and most important intelligence. Any one of the ladies on the cover can beat Hawkcretin in a game of Jeopardy! Jennifer Kale and Topaz are likable. Satana comes into the story late, but Walsh establishes her rather quickly, and yes, she was dead. He does not gloss over that detail.

Walsh's dialogue tickles, and there's only one mild swear word to be found. It's also masked. The repartee between the ladies and Jennifer Kale and Dr. Strange reminds one of the fast-talking screwball comedies of the thirties only updated.

If you haven't figured it out. I'm impressed. Witches should be a series, and Marvel would be foolish to let this new writer go.



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