By Ron Marz (writer) & Stjepan Sejic (art)

Witchblade #117 has a lot on it’s plate and, as such, the issue as a whole suffers from trying to tell three intertwined stories within just over 20 pages. That’s not to say this issue is a bad read however, as the final pages will leave the reader wanting much more.

The book kicks off with a Crusader battle, stunningly imagined by artist Stjepan Sejic. From there, the story continues the somewhat separate, yet intertwined, stories of the Witchblade bearers Sarah Pezzini and Danielle Baptiste. Sarah is still investigating the religiously inspired murders from the previous issue, while Dani invites her new boyfriend over to help babysit Hope, Sarah’‘s child. These three stories each get some time to be front and center, but very little happens to advance any of them until the final pages. I can’t reveal much more of the plot without spoiling anything, so allow me to highlight what works in the issue.

The art within this issue is fantastic from start to finish. Stjepan Sejic’’s painted work feels strikingly original in the realm of comics and really helps bring Ron Marz’’s story to life. It is worth noting, however, that the art is quite graphic from time to time. There is quite a bit of blood and gore during battle scenes and during the murder investigation, so keep that in mind if you have a weak stomach.

Ron Marz’’s dialogue is another highlight. The zealots are sufficiently unnerving, the interaction between Pezzini and her boyfriend Gleason is both darkly humorous and touching, and Dani is realistically smitten with her new guy. Also, the recently introduced crime scene forensics character, Chandrakhar, is quickly becoming one of my favorite supporting characters in any comic.
The storyline is quite interesting, if a bit unoriginal. Religious zealotry is a fairly common storyline device and, had things gone differently in this issue, I may have questioned the need for it in the first place. The characters and art are driving the story more than the plot itself, which isn’t a bad thing, but things should start to improve in the plot department if the final pages are any indication. One last thing worth noting regarding the storyline is that with Witchblade #116 serving as a re-launch of sorts for the series, it is somewhat surprising to find #117 hinting at a very continuity heavy storyline in the near future. (Grade: B)

-Kyle Posluszny