Saturday, May 16, 2009

Review: Witchblade Annual #1

I've been looking forward to this title for what seems like forever. By the same token, I've been blogging about it with preview artwork for about two months that there was always a danger that it would disappoint me - thankfully, it didn't.

As I've reported before the Annual contains two self-contained stories. The main feature - 'If Looks Could Kill' - runs to 20 story pages whilst the backup - 'Ned' - runs to 8 story pages. Throw in three pages of Top Cow Moos (news) and at $3.99 I think pretty good value.

'If Looks Could Kill' opens with NYPD officer Sara Pezzini - the current bearer of the Witchblade of course - desperately trying to stop a beautiful blood woman who is wearing little but her underwear, carrying a meat cleaver and covered in blood, jumping from a roof-top.

Safely back from the edge the blond woman claims that she remembers nothing at all of what's happened during the evening - how she got to the roof-top, why she was carrying the cleaver or who's blood she's covered in.

Later, while talking about the case with other detectives, it becomes clear to Pezzini and her partner Gleason that this incident they are looking into isn't isolated and there have been a string of unsolved murders committed by equally beautiful women.

In the course of investigating these unsolved murders Pezzini and Gleason find themselves at the home of a plastic surgeon - the only known link between the women. Gleason discovers the doctor - Doctor Rosewood - performing some kind of supernatural ritual whilst at the same time his wife attacks Pezzini. As we'd expect, Pezzini - and the Witchblade - overcomes the doctor at which point his wife collapses.

Wrapping up the story we learn that the women were - unknowingly - acting on behalf of Doctor Rosewood who was taking revenge on high-school classmates who had once tormented him.

All in all, a good story that made for a good, well-paced read. There were one or two 'convenient' flaws in the plot if I'm honest - for instance I'm surprised that the detectives didn't see the real link between the incidents - but nothing to spoil my enjoyment. The artwork was exactly as we've come to expect from Top Cow, both in terms of its style and high quality.

The backup - 'Ned' - was an enjoyable read that left me hoping that the story will be continued at some point in the Witchblade future. Ned is a timid guy who, sent to prison, finds himself sharing a cell with Ian Nottingham: a long time adversary of Sara Pezzini.

Tormented by his fellow inmates Ned is eventually recognised by one man who believes he knows him and that he's up to something. Eventually Ned reveals to the reader that he does indeed have his own agenda - to become a legend ...

As I say, a good story that left me wanting more, and really nice artwork.

Overall I heartily recommended Witchblade Annual #1.

published by Top Cow in May 2009, issue dated April 2009

'If Looks Could Kill' - Jay Faerber, Eric Basaldua'Ned' - Joshua Cozine, Joe Henderson, Sheldon Mitchell
covers by a) Eric Basaldua, Rick Basaldua & Caesar Rodriquez, b) Sami Basri