Comic Review – Witchblade (2017) #1

Alex Underwood had always wanted to make a difference – first as a reporter and then as a social worker. Merely wanting to make the world a better place is not enough, alas, and Alex Underwood died. She was gunned down by the husband of one of her clients while in the midst of searching for the hotel maid who could collaborate her client’s stories of abuse.

That should have been the end of Alex Underwood… but something brought her back.

Alex Underwood has become the latest host of The Witchblade – an ancient artifact which grants the women it bonds to amazing mystic powers. Unfortunately, Alex is convinced that the voice in her head speaking to her of the amazing power she now commands and warning her of the demons that now seek her destruction is only the latest in a series of PTSD-fueled delusions that plagued her for years following her being taken hostage.

Hallucination or not, Alex is not the sort of person who gives up without a fight. And with or without mystic powers, she still has a client who needs protection from a dangerous man. Unfortunately, as Alex hunts her client and the abusive husband who is trying to kill her, so too are the demonic enemies of The Witchblade hunting her while she is still weak and forming her bond with the weapon.

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Born of the “bad-girl” boom of the mid-1990s in the midst of what became known as The Dark Age of Comics, Witchblade was not originally friendly to female readers. The most famous “power” of The Witchblade was ripping off whatever clothes its host was wearing whenever it activated in order to sprout metal bikini armor that left little to the imagination and offered little protection! This “feature” was dropped in recent years but a Google image search for Witchblade still brings up pages upon pages of cheesecake-driven cover art.

Thankfully, such blatant fan-service is absent from the new Witchblade series. The artwork by Roberta Ingranata is free of gratuitous posing and idealized body types. The aesthetic is all about action, with even the static scenes of people in an office talking having a continual sense of motion as the point-of-view jumps from panel to panel. The colors by Bryan Valenza establish a cool, muted feeling which well-fits the winter setting and the idea of Alex returning from the dead.

In terms of writing, the focus in this first issue is on character, not concept. While a brief overview is given of The Witchblade’s history, Caitlin Kittredge’s script is primarily concerned with defining Alex Underwood as the sort of person who would live a hero’s life even without a magical bracelet. Giving Alex anxiety issues and a history of PTSD puts an interesting wrinkle on the classic hero’s journey, as Alex isn’t entirely sure that she can believe what is going on around her. It also makes her seem all the stronger as a character that she carries on doing the right thing despite her uncertainty.

If you haven’t read Witchblade before, you can jump into this issue without worry. If you have read Witchblade before, you’ll find this to be a welcome new spin on the classic concept. The only readers likely to walk away from this book unsatisfied are those who only read the original series for the pictures.

8/10.

Witchblade #1 releases on December 6, 2017.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

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