By Ron Marz and Saurav Mohapatra (writers), Stjepan Sejic (artist) and Troy Peteri (letters)

The Story: Leaving the emotional turmoil of Artifacts behind for at least a little while, Sara and Patrick go back to doing what they do best—uncovering (and kicking the ass of) supernatural creatures lurking in and around New York. This arc’s Monster of the Week: two very creepy children with extremely overactive imaginations.

What’s Good: As much as I adore Artifacts and all of the awesome character work and earth-shaking storylines coming together therein, I think an issue like this—completely removed from all that action and quite simple and straightforward in its storytelling—is exactly what the doctor ordered. All of the importance and emotional baggage of the crossover was starting to wear a wee bit thin with so much time being devoted to it, and a straight-up, no holds barred, monsters-are-gonna-bite-your-face-off arc is a breath of fresh air I didn’t even know I wanted, and a great way to kick start the reader’s interest in another direction.

And quite the direction it is! (A warning for those who care: this paragraph gets a wee bit spoilery.) I don’t think there’s much I can say about Stjepan Sejic that I haven’t already said in a dozen different places, but for those keeping score at home: yes, he is still unbelievably brilliant. The panel layouts are varied and visually interesting without ever distracting from their primary function (storytelling), and the monster designs—both the actual monsters and the children controlling them—are properly unnerving. Fantastic, fantastic work.

What’s Not So Good: After falling all over myself to praise the book for breaking from Artifacts, I do have to say that SOME small reference to the events would not have been amiss. Nothing huge, mind you—just enough to perhaps provide a reminder that our characters haven’t forgotten the meta-plot, and that the events are still moving on in the background. Really though, it’s an entirely minor point, and one I didn’t even think of until well after closing the issue.

Conclusion: An extremely strong issue, one that gets back to the heart of what Witchblade does best: putting our heroine up against unholy baddies, and letting her use a combination of brain and ‘Blade to fight her way out. There’s nothing revolutionary in that, but certainly nothing to criticize—especially not when handled so well.

Grade: B+