"Raising the Dead"
Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Stjepan Sejic
Publisher: Image Comics/Top Cow
“Hey! Wha- happened?” That, in as clean a way as possible, was my initial reaction towards Witchblade #106, which was voiced right at the first page of the issue. There was a very simple but oh-so-glaring reason behind it. What reason? The artwork, more appropriately the absence of regular artist Adriana Melo. Now make no mistake, Stjepan Sejic is an amazing artist. I am big fan of his semi-painted style right from his colorist duties in last year’s Top Cow-Marvel The Darkness/Wolverine one-shot crossover to his recent most work on The Darkness: Level 1. However, (even though he draws *hawt* female characters), I find Stjepan better suited to, well, a masculine story like the two I just mentioned. Do note than I am basing this on my limited exposure to Stjepan’s work and it could just as well be me suffering from “No-Adriana Shock.” Since she is my favorite Witchblade artist (at least of recent times), I hope for Ms. Melo’s return (to this title) in the future. And soon.
As for the story itself, this arc marks the first independent outing of the New Witch-on-the-block, Danielle Baptiste. Even though Sara gets her screen time (en route to the upcoming First Born), this is Dani’s show. From the reason for her trip to New Orleans to the main story there, it is all Dani, and if it weren’t clear already, it is now: Dani is NOT Sara. Forget the present day Sara; Danielle Baptiste is leagues from even Sara Pezzini of Witchblade #1. At this point, other than the Witchblade, all that the two have in common is that they both are cop-kids. While Sara only had her father in the force, Dani has both of her (divorced) parents.
During her time in New Orleans Dani goes up against and trounces over a century old evil. This part of the story is not so much about the action as it is about the build-up, both in the part leading up to the final fight as to Dani’s thoughts about the Witchblade: its place in her life and her future as its wielder.
The story ends with a cliffhanger. Marking the return of a previously seen character, this has ominous overtones not only for Dani and Sara but possibly even for Detective Patrick Gleason. Him I include because of the (deadly) mental state of the new arrival. For readers confused by this person's identity and her history with Sara and the Witchblade, I suggest reading up on Witchblade #76-77 - "Strength & Weakness."
Conclusion: The Witchblade-verse is at its most newbie-friendly point in years. In Danielle Baptist Ron Marz has done something rare in today’s comic world: introduce and set up a "legacy" character without killing off the previous mantle-bearer (preferably in some ultra-violent manner).
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at www.xcave.net
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