By Ron Marz (writer), Matthew Dow Smith (art), Nathan Fairbairn (colors), Troy Peteri (letters)

The Story: Guest stars Mulder and Scully–er, that is, Detective Patrick Gleason and Sheriff Kate Rooney–find themselves under a ghostly siege. Only one person, convicted hitman Vince Petramale, seems to be able to offer any hope of survival.

What’s Good: Ouch. This isn’t usually the difficult part to fill in on an issue of Witchblade, but this month I’m kind of at a loss. Although it held my attention longer than the previous issue–which was mainly setup for the action and payoff in this one–it still felt quite…uninspired, I guess, is the word I would use. While the guest star idea is actually a very good one, especially putting Gleason front and center, and MOST especially at this time, while Sara is (in theory) off dealing with the fallout from Artifacts, the execution just doesn’t work out the way I think anyone intended.

What’s Not So Good: Matthew Dow Smith is not Stjepan Sejic. I understand this, and do not hold it against him. Even removing that comparison, though, once again: ouch. I really hate saying this about anyone’s work, but…it’s just…not…very…good. There is a distinct lack of detail in everything (particularly the backgrounds), and the characters themselves look absolutely generic. The “sketchy” look has never been one that I particularly like, but in this story–where I would argue that small things and attention to detail can make the difference between a truly threatening ghost army, and a ghost army that looks like its members could be unmasked by Scooby Doo at any moment, it really does have a huge effect on the overall quality of the story told.

“Generic” is actually a fair summary of this issue (and the last). It literally feels as if Ron Marz went on a classic X-files binge, and blended together a few elements from each of his favorite episodes. Witchblade has always prided itself on being a unique and distinct series. I see none of that pride, effort or passion in this issue, and that makes me sad. The good news is that Sejic is back where he belongs (at the head of the Witchblade art parade) next month, along with what promises to be a very interesting retelling of Sara Pezzini’s origin as the Witchblade bearer. So there’s that to look forward to.

Conclusion: The second of a forgettable (and regrettable) pair of issues. I’m all for giving Gleason a chance to shine on his own, but for God’s sake at least write him a good story if you’re going to take the trouble to do it!

Grade: C-