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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Witchblade/Red Sonja Gets An "A" For Concept But Implementation Isn't A Complete Success

Witchblade is responsible for getting me back into reading comic books as an adult. As a child I read Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batman and Superman, but I stopped reading comics at the age of twelve. I became a Witchblade fan as a result of the TV series that aired on TNT (2001-2002) starring Yancy Butler as Sara Pezzini, a New York City cop who was chosen by the Witchblade.  The Witchblade is an ancient intelligent artifact that has chosen female wielders for thousands of years.  Probably the most famous historical Witchblade wielder is one of my favorite historical personages, Joan of Arc, who was the subject of historical flashbacks in the TV series. The Witchblade unites with the wielder, and is said to balance the powers of light and darkness. The comic book and the TV series mainly deal with the contemporary wielder Sara Pezzini.  The original publisher and owner of the franchise is Top Cow, but it has licensed other companies to publish Witchblade. 

Most recently, Dynamite Entertainment published a six issue crossover series called Witchblade/Red Sonja. I admit that I didn't read the series when it was in print.  Red Sonja is not a character that I've followed, so I've had to research her history for this post. She is partly based on two historical swordswomen created by Robert E. Howard named Sonya of Rogatino and Dark Agnes of Chastillion, but Red Sonja was created by Roy Thomas for Marvel Comics' Conan the Barbarian series.  Conan the Barbarian is another Robert E. Howard character. Red Sonja became part of the Conan mythos which is set in prehistoric times in the "Hyborean Age" which is a completely fictional construct. She first appeared in Conan the Barbarian #23 in 1973. Dynamite currently publishes a Red Sonja series, and  I was delighted to learn that Gail Simone (best known to me for her phenomenal work in DC's Birds of Prey series) will start writing it in July.

The Witchblade/Red Sonja series has just been re-published by Dynamite as a graphic novel  and Net Galley offered it for review.  I selected it for review because of my interest in Witchblade.  It was written by Doug Warner with art by Cezar Razek.  

Comics definitely work better for me in print format than they do in electronic format.  I read this in Adobe Digital Editions on my computer which allowed me to enjoy the art in full color.  I was impressed with the way Cezar Razek brought Red Sonja's  environment alive, but I found some of the transitions between contemporary Witchblade and prehistorical Red Sonja very abrupt.  Perhaps they wouldn't have felt that way in print where they would probably have involved turning a page or been marked as a new section. 

 I liked the idea of  incorporating Red Sonja into the Witchblade continuity.  I also liked the fact that Sara Pezzini and Red Sonja were in a position to aid each other.  Unfortunately, there was a big police procedural plot hole on the Witchblade end.  It may sound strange that I can accept a cop who fights a supernatural villain with the aid of an ancient artifact allied across time with a prehistorical swordswoman, but can't suspend disbelief when contemporary police procedure isn't followed.  I'm the sort of reader who is bothered by inconsistencies.  I realize that if  this particular error had been corrected, an additional issue would probably have been required to resolve the plot.  Yet I think it would have been a better story.

I am hoping that the Witchblade movie that has been touted since 2009 finally does get made, and that it meets my expectations.  Meanwhile it would be really nice if a talented writer gets on board with the comic series.  I want to love Witchblade, but not every incarnation of Witchblade has been worthy.

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