Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Darkness/Witchblade/Angelus Trinity: Blood on the Sands

Hot on the heals of the recent Witchblade Annual comes another one-shot from publishers Top Cow.

This publication - Blood on the Sands - is a historical look at The Darkness/Witchblade/Angelus trinity and takes place in the Arabian desert in the 14th century. The book actually consists of three short stories focusing on the relevant hosts of The Darkness, Witchblade and Angelus at that time in history.

The first story is called 'Diyafa' and focuses on The Darkness. In the story we see a young man called Mansur who sets out to rescue his sister, who had been taken by a group of raiders, seeking out help from The Dark One - Idris, once a man and now a demon who lives beneath the sand in a 'city of shadow'. Mansur scours the desert until he collapses through exhaustion - at this point he is pulled into the sand and through into a cavern where he comes face to face with Idris. Mansur offers his own life if Idris should rescue his sister, and a bloody adventure begins.

The Witchblade story is called 'Assahiya' and sees two young girls - sisters Amani and Amali - sharing the Witchblade. As the girls grew up Amali becomes overcome with the darker strength that of the Witchblade. The village elders eventually exile Amali to the desert: she later returns entirely consumed by death and destruction. Inevitably the sisters confront one another - with tragic consequences.

The third part of the book is titled 'Chermera' and features Angelus. In this story we follow warrior Abdul Salaam as he seeks out and attempts to rescue his great love. The warrior has to draw on all of his skills to overcome an otherwise peaceful congregation of Yezidi - a religious group - before coming face to face with the Dark One.

My own favourite tale was 'Assahiya' as it focused on the Witchblade (which is the title that pulled me into the Top Cow U) and the storyline had many nice parallels with the current War of the Witchblades story-arc. Across all three parts of the book the writing and artwork was of the highest quality, as was the beautiful cover from Stjepan Sejic. Furthermore, as much as I'm referring to the various separate parts of the book the story as a whole flows nicely.

I particularly appreciated the inclusion of the 'People, Traditions and Places' page which explained some of the names and terms used throughout the book - this was especially useful when re-reading 'Assahiya'.

There's a lot of story within the pages of this one-shot and it could arguably have been told over two or even three issues - credit to the publishers for giving the reader an involved, done-in-one story for a bargain $2.99.

I'd like to read more of these 'historical' stories.

The Darkness/Witchblade/Angelus Trinity: Blood on the Sands
Written by Philip W. Smith, interior art by Sheldon Mitchell, Admira Wijaya and Tom Grindberg, cover art by Stjepan Sejic
Published by Top Cow, July 2009