Some Thoughts Before The Review: I’ve been a fan of Witchblade for a long time. It’s surprising that the annual is the first one the series has ever had. It’ll be interesting to see what one of my favorite writers, Jay Faerber, does with one of my favorite characters.

“If Looks Could Kill” – Jay Faerber (Writer), Eric Basaldua (Pencils), Rick Basaldua (Inks), Dulce Brassea & Alix Minjarez (Ink Assists), and John Starr (Colors)

The Story: A beautiful woman commits murder and then has no recollection of the event. As it turns out, she’s not the only one suffering from a case of the murder and amnesia combo. The only thing the ladies have in common is that they all had work done by the same respected plastic surgeon. Coincidence? Sara Pezzini doesn’t think so.

What’s Good and What’s Not So Good:
The first story in the Witchblade Annual, “If Looks Could Kill” is a classic Witchblade story in every way. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is something that I’d rather leave up to you, the reader, to decide. If you miss the days when Witchblade was a T and A fest with some action and supernatural mystery thrown in, then you’ll definitely find a lot to like about the first part of the Annual. If you prefer how Witchblade is now, a cop story/supernatural epic that stays in touch with it’s roots thanks to a small side of T and A, then you will probably find “If Looks Could Kill” to be pretty basic (and probably somewhat obnoxious).

Personally, I prefer how Witchblade is now as opposed to how it used to be. That said, I have to give credit where it is due. “If Looks Could Kill” is definitely a success on a technical level. The writing is sharp and the visuals do a nice job of taking advantage of the story being told (even if the all supermodels populating the story do look a bit inconsistent and interchangeable).

“Ned” – Joshua Cozine & Joe Henderson (Writers), Sheldon Mitchell (Pencils), Rick Basaldua (Inks), Dulce Brassea & Alix Minjarez (Ink Assists), and Blond (Colors)

The Story: Number thirteen, that’s how Ned is known in the prison he has been sent to. Why number thirteen? Because Ned is the thirteenth cellmate Mr. Ian Nottingham has had. But all is not as it seems with the timid Ned…

What’s Good and What’s Not So Good:
“Ned” is an odd story, especially in comparison to “If Looks Could Kill.” The first story works as a standalone read, but “Ned” seems to be all about laying the groundwork for future Witchblade stories. Longtime readers will no doubt recognize the name “Nottingham” and all the rest will no doubt be intrigued by the introduction of the mysterious inmate Ned. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that “Ned” is an interesting read that features some compelling dialogue and sufficiently moody artwork, but it seems like the story would be better suited as a backup story in a regular issue of Witchblade as opposed to the Annual.

Conclusion: The first Witchblade Annual presents two very different, though quite decent stories in a way that should please both new and longtime fans. I recommend checking it out if you like Witchblade or have wanted to give it a try.

Grade: B

-Kyle Posluszny