By Tini Howard, Ryan Cady, Christian DiBari, Mike Spicer, Troy Peteri, and Vincent Valentine
The newest incarnation of The Magdalena is out on comic shelves from Image comics. This first issue features a new character, with an entirely new creative team, but still incorporates some of the familiar elements for long time fans of past series. This introductory issue has a lot of positive momentum throughout to carry over into a series. This is a passing of the spear story between current undefeated Magdalena Patience, and newcomer Maya. The Magdalena is charged with wielding the Spear of Destiny, which is claimed to be one in the same with the spear that pierced Jesus Christ’s side during the Crucifixion. This sacred relic yields the power to strike down evil and grants the spear-holder healing abilities as well, because in this book evil and good are more than intangible concepts one debates over in Theology class.
The Magdalena #1 has co-writers, Howard and Cady, working as a cooperative team along with art from Christian DiBari. The story works well; it gives us a great protagonist in Patience, who is a veteran of carrying the Spear, as she realizes it is time to find an apprentice. The tone of the book is set from the initial pages – this is a dark, scary, and cruel world we are stepping into. We see a demonic summoning, a wicked old demon, and an ass-kicking Patience. This whole sequence is a reflection of what came before, and a nod to what is to come. Yeah, we see Patience clad in her red and blue, cross-adorned outfit, but we also see her hesitate and struggle doing a job she did easily did not so long ago.
The clash of good and evil is brought to the pages with not only artist DiBari, but also from colorist Spicer and letterer Peteri. The mood is set from the second you open the book, with brooding colors of black, grey, and red that seems to bleed throughout the page. Then, the colors transition to a more soft yellow and white in the lighter parts of the book, mainly those featuring Magdalena newcomer, Maya. The story constantly balances between showing the reader the ever-presence of evil in the world, while also trying to provide hope with the introduction of Maya. The tone and the art have a nice easy shift throughout the book that preventit from feeling overly heavy or dark.
This book gets so much right, that it is hard to even notice some of the times they miss the mark. The panel layouts overall feel claustrophobic on some pages and totally bare in others. The choice to bombard readers with action, colors, and dialogue all in a tiny space feels misguided, or overlooked. Other pages have wide gaps of space that would feel intentional, but the placement of dialogues boxes at times feels strange. Placing dialogue over a more designed background piece instead of the plain colored wall is not intentional, and probably an oversight. Other times, the dialogue feels intentional in terms of placement. The words are placed awkwardly so the reader can notice come detail on a character or a background piece, but it leaves the page hard to follow and congested.
The Magdalena #1 is a great start to a revival of a classic series. This is a proven story of the descendants of Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ and how they are continuing to kick ass in modern times thanks to the Spear of Destiny. There is plenty to look forward to in this series, and with the ongoing training of Maya from Patience, there is a growing dynamic that screams of Yoda and Luke. There is also lots of demons and badass looking mean guys running around causing havoc for our Magdalenas. This is a book worth taking a chance on.