By Ron Marz, Ashley Robinson, Laura Braga, Carlos Rodriguez, Bill Framer & Betsy Gonia
Witchblade has been one of the best titles on shelves lately, and has really been excelling month after month. The special #175 Anniversary edition, although expensive, proves to be worth your time, delivering some excellent stories from Ron Marz, with some stunning artwork from Laura Braga to boot. For 19 years, this book has been on shelves, and what an incredible run it’s been – few titles currently can match the number that Witchblade has reached, which is great. However, that comes with problems. 174 issues is a lot to catch up on, and can feel daunting for a newcomer to the Witchblade/Top Cow Universe. However, Witchblade #175 works as a fine jumping on point for readers who are unfamiliar with the series, and serves as a good quality read and a glimpse of what you can expect going forward.
There are three separate stories in Witchblade #175, two written by Ron Marz (the third handled by Ashley Robinson) and with the same artistic team of Laura Braga on pencils and Betsy Gonia on colours (apart from Carlos Rodriguez and Bill Framer, who handle Robinson’s issue), but the creative team involved brings the world of Witchblade to life with some amazing artwork that never fails to disappoint, and it feels similar throughout with no jarring artistic switches. There are plenty of spectacular action moments that don’t disappoint, and they really excel, helping to make this comic look its best. For $5.99 you’re going to want something good, and Witchblade #175 delivers in plenty of ways.
The first story, Into the Fire is handled by the normal Witchblade creative team, and works well. It not only serves as a good explanation as to how the Witchblade works but manages to move the story forward in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s catering for new readers alone. Marz delivers a strong read that opens the book well and is a compelling start for the other two tales to follow.
Unlike the opener, Temple of Shadows leaps to a different period altogether. It’s a good read and serves as a strong example of the history of the bearers of the Witchblade, and a reminder that it’s not just Sara Pezzini to have held the mantle. There weren’t really any major issues with Temple of Shadows itself however, but the backup story felt like it robbed the momentum from the core storyline a bit, and the book could have benefited from more time with Into the Fire.
The final story, 4 for 5 – is the only one not written by Ron Marz and it serves as a great introduction to somebody who has never read a Witchblade comic before. Seriously, if you want to jump on – there’s no better place to do it, and although the POV is through Detective Patrick Gleason, Sara’s partner – it serves as a great jumping on point and an explanation of the Witchblade itself.
The artwork is mainly handled by Laura Braga and it looks amazing. Braga has been putting out fantastic artwork for Witchblade for a while now and it should be interesting to see what she can keep bringing to the table. She never disappoints, and you know that you’re in safe hands with Braga’s art, with both Into the Fire and Temple of Shadows looking amazing. When Carlos Rodriguez takes over the book supporting Robinson’s 4 for 5, the quality unfortunately dips a little – the action is fine, but the characters don’t look as good as they could have been. However, the dip in quality won’t put you off the issue that much, because it’s still relatively solid.
Both Braga and Rodriguez’s artwork is coloured by Betsy Gonia and Bill Framer, and they really enhance the former’s pencils – Gonia delivers an impressive job and Bill Framer’s colours are very solid as well, with a good mix that allows for an impressive result. All in all then, despite the minor problems with this book, Witchblade #175 is probably a newcomer’s best bet at jumping on the series. It comes recommended, to newcomers and old hands alike.