(w) Caitlin Kittredge (a) Roberta Ingranata (c) Bryan Valenza
I’ve made it well known here that I’m a big fan of the original Witchblade series, specifically the Ron Marz/Stjepan Sejic run. As a result, I’ve approached this latest incarnation with heightened anticipation and scrutiny. I couldn’t connect with the new protagonist. The writing seemed uneven. The artwork seemed inconsistent. So I let issues pile up, collecting dust as I read unfulfilling comics such as Spider-Geddon and its various tie-ins. Finally deciding to read comics I paid good money for, I plowed through my backlog, including Witchblade. To my surprise, I found all the problems I had were for the most part cleaned up. The script had tightened up, the artwork was crisper, and the world-building that had made the previous series so beloved was finally taking shape. These trends continue in the pages of Witchblade #10.
The issue opens with Alex, the bearer of the titular artifact, held in a secret lab for experimentation. You know, standard sci-fi bad guy stuff. In a way, this is her own personal crucible, a baptism by fire that sees her forge a stronger relationship – or at least an understanding – with the Witchblade. Emotionally tortured and physically tested, Alex is forced to fully face the symbiotic relationship she has formed with the artifact. This manifests in visions Alex has of herself in a very 1995 version of the Witchblade armor. Throughout this journey, she comes to understand that there is light and darkness to the Witchblade’s nature, and finding that balance will be crucial to her development.
Caitlin Kittredge’s script is full of rich character development, probably the most Alex has been given in any single issue. In addition to the “B” plot involving the series’ supporting characters, Kittredge makes it a point to establish the Witchblade’s role as this supernatural world unfolds. Though it draws inspiration from what has come before, the new mythology is definitely its own thing, thanks mostly to the backstory given by Ash in the aforementioned “B” plot. As important as it may seem in helping to flesh out this new world, it is significantly less interesting than whatever is happening with Alex. Had it been left out entirely this issue would have been so much stronger.
Speaking of stronger, Roberta Ingranata’s artwork continues to impress with the improvement shown in each subsequent issue. Though I continue to not be a fan of the new Witchblade armor (to be fair, it is hard for this to top this) seeing Ingranata’s interpretation of Michael Turner’s metal bikini gives me hope that it will evolve into something similar to what was seen during the Marz/Sejic run. Like most of the issue, her version of the classic armor looks really good without being nearly as exploitative as the 1990s look. In the context of the story, this look is representative of the raw, primal nature of the artifact which Alex must learn to control. Also, it’s just a vision in her head and Alex isn’t running around with it all hanging out, which is also a plus.
It’s by no means perfect, but Witchblade #10 is a really enjoyable issue. The story is engaging, proving that Kittredge and Ingranata have a vision for this title. I’ll admit I didn’t think that was the case a few months ago, but I’m happy to have been wrong. If the book’s trajectory continues, it may end up following the legacy of the original series as one of the most underrated titles in the industry.
- Kittredge's mostly tight script
- Ingranata's continuously improving art
- Alex's character development
- Secondary plotline was a slog