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After the buckets of blood shed last issue, I was looking forward to some pointless mayhem in this issue. And while I do get some of that, there are also surprisingly emotional and empowering scenes with Sara that make this mini-series feel like a good investment even if we never hear about it again.
Witchblade bearer Sara Pezzini has been having some trouble with a pesky demon she thought she killed years ago in the one-shot Witchblade: Demon. Now, she’s trapped in hell and must face off against not only him, but legions of demonic forces and the startling realization that she’s not so different from them.
Immediately, the cliffhanger left by writer Ande Parks from the last issue is answered, and despite there being no shocking mysteries revealed in this issue, I can forgive it because the hype of this issue is almost completely fulfilled. The main focus of this issue is the battle between Sara and the demons, which leads to a book-end type of moment not only for Sara’s main story, but also a sub-plot between Sara and a man who has been violating his parole. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see a follow-up for this side-story, which reflects what Sara learned during her time in hell, but I almost completely forgot about it since it was mentioned in the first two issues and was also the most boring aspect of those issues. Was it boring here? Sara’s smug satisfaction at the outcome of this sub-plot couldn’t help but be contagious, despite the rest of it being a bore.
What definitely wasn’t a bore was the fight between Sara, the demon from Witchblade: Demon and the hordes of other undead she had to fight. Again, there is a ton of blood for gore hounds, but the fight takes a surprisingly emotional tone. Sara discovers something about herself that makes the character seem like a very empowering figure and really has me rooting for her to come out on top at the end of this issue. So, I can enjoy the guilty pleasure of tons of gore and a strong, likable protagonist. If I hadn’t already read previous issues from the long-running Witchblade series, I would definitely be jumping onboard now to see more of Sara.
There is also a disturbing moment towards the end that is purely for shock value and has no consequence on the story whatsoever, but because it had nothing to do with the story it came completely out of left-field and I couldn’t help but enjoy the surprise I got from the scene, and its disturbing nature… a disturbing nature that didn’t even use a single drop of blood.
There is also a “resolution” for our antagonist, the demon, and after four issues I couldn’t find myself caring about him. I did love his dialogue last issue, but here he just seemed to be spoon-fed dialogue that would lead to Sara having her empowering moment, which while great also felt forced.
Each issue Jose Luis’ art grew on me, but there are still some odd quirks. Some of his facial expressions look like the character’s are overexerting themselves with a simple gesture. But usually this just adds a theatrical air to the emotion, making it all the more a spectacle which I didn’t mind. There is also an interesting page in which the same picture is used over and over again, but slowly in each panel comes closer and closer to the characters faces. Since this page had a lot of dialogue, I preferred this technique over the much easier approach of just having a full page of art with blocks of text. This made it feel like the scene was building to something. The only time I ever really felt like yelling at Jose Luis was right after Sara has her emotionally empowering scene, it felt ruined with a terrible butt-shot of Sara in her now miraculously tight pants that have their own glare on the page to make it all the more obvious what we’re supposed to be looking at. Other than this outrage, the art was solid.
Another surprisingly solid aspect of this issue were the colors. Vinicius Andrade, who I’ve had issues with in the past because of his calming colors during intense moments, finally sticks with a red color scheme during Sara’s time in hell. Granted, this is often used as an excuse not to have a background and often leads to the dreaded speedlines in some panels with action, but at least the tone is right. Andrade also gets to color some hellfire scenes that are very reminiscent of his work in the Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt title, which I also enjoyed.
The end of this mini-series makes me satisfied that I stuck with it despite only hooking me in with issue three. By the end, everything grew on me: the story, the characters, the artwork, even the colors seemed to improve as this mini-series went along. It makes me hope to see more Witchblade from Dynamite Entertainment rather than the usual Top Cow produced adventure.
Read the rest of my reviews for this mini-series by clicking on the links below.