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For fans of the new Artifacts series, this issue is a nice tie-in. The story is touching, but if you are more into the violence and carnage caused by the Witchblade you will not be seeing it here.
Sara, a.k.a. the Witchblade is still dealing with her sister Julie’s death, which occurred during the first issue of Artifacts. She is forced to see a psychiatrist who must decide if she’s fit enough to return to duty. No matter what her decision, Sara knows one thing for sure: she will find the murderer (Aphrodite IV) and end her.
The story is written by Ron Marz (Artifacts) and is very heartwarming, but there are still quite a few problems with it. For one, it is not really necessary. This issue adds nothing to the Artifacts storyline. The part when Sara will or will not be re-instated as a police officer could easily be covered using a few words in the next issue of Artifacts. This is a big reason why a lot of people will skip this issue, which is unfortunate considering how touching it is. Sara’s partner shares a heartwarming story that fans who are unfamiliar with his character can sympathize with in a few panels.
Another detail that hurts the story slightly is the history of the series. It is not that I would be completely confused if I had never read Witchblade before. I have not (unless you count Artifacts in which she is the main character) and the only scene that I did not fully understand was when she wanted to destroy a man’s grave who’s name was never mentioned in Artifacts. What happened in Artifacts is well covered within this comic. Without reading Artifacts, however, you definitely lose part of the emotional connection between Sara and her sister. The connection between them is obvious and there is a level of sadness that can be aroused within the reader, especially if you have children of your own. This is still saying a lot on its own. But it can be better enhanced by reading more about the character, to see their bond first-hand while Julie was still alive. They do include a nice little homage to Julie on a full-page among the final pages entitled “Broken Little Jewels: Remembering Julie Pezzini, that was a nice addition to the comic that people should not just glance over. It’s a nice little bonus.
The guest artist, Michael Gaydos, could not deliver the wonderful artwork and colors that had been in Artifacts. There were only two or three panels that I enjoyed, and the colors were boring. There is not much to say about it. The art was bland not really terrible, but many fans will have higher expectations that are far from fulfilled here. The characters speak about such emotional times in their lives that the readers will be the ones wearing more appropriate faces. All the characters seem to be drawn with looks of boredom on their faces. It is not a big issue regarding the story but should be improved upon in future issues to help convey even more emotion. They should have used the artist from Artifacts. I will mention one full-page spanning artwork that did make me wonder why the whole comic was now something that made me think of an artistic masterpiece. The picture was of a mound of bodies trapped under the rubble from 9/11 in an oddly beautiful winterscape. Gaydos has so much talent. So why couldn’t he have used it when he was drawing the other panels?
If you do read this issue, I would suggest reading at least the first two issues of Artifacts to learn more about how Julie died and Sara’s initial reaction. Both are very amazing issues themselves, rated even higher than this one. The story here is more a self-contained one that does not really forward the plot, but is a nice touching tale that is hard to find in the sea of action comic books pumped out by most distributors. Your time is well spent here, and you might find yourself wishing there was just one more page to read. I know I did.
If you are curious about checking out Artifacts first but have no idea what it is about or why you should bother, check out my review of Artifacts #2 if you have the chance.