“Origin Secret” by Ron Marz (writer), Stjepan Sejic (art) and Troy Peteri (letters). “Secret Origin” by Filip Sablik (writer), John Tyler Christoper (art) and Troy Peteri (letters)

The Story: In the main story, we are treated to a wonderful Ron Marz re-telling of Sara Pezzini’s origin story, and a recap of the high points of her history with the Witchblade. Filip Sablik’s backup story revolves around Sara’s partner and boyfriend, Patrick Gleason, and his significantly more down to Earth (though, in his own way, no less heroic) past.

What’s Good: Fifteen years is an impressive milestone for any comic. For an independent book that follows a female heroine, it’s downright astonishing. This issue is a fitting tribute to that outstanding accomplishment, as well as a celebration of the characters and mythology built over those years. Marz’s retelling of Sara’s origin is a great deal of fun, as well as a wonderful jumping on point for readers who may not be familiar with Sara, the Witchblade, or their perpetual nemesis Kenneth Irons. Part of me thinks that the framing story–in which an Internal Affairs agent reviews the secret notes of Jake McCarthy, Sara’s late former partner–was unnecessary, and that the space would have been better used by fleshing out this version of the origin even more. Then again, it also serves the story well by establishing this as a single character’s perspective on the origin story, and by reinforcing IA’s interest in Sara’s activities. Since it is all very well written, and since the transitions are handled so smoothly, it’s hard to find fault with it.

On the art side, what can I say about Stjepan Sejic that I haven’t already said? The man creates some of the most beautiful art on the stands today. I’m usually not a huge fan of the hyper-real/digital look, but somehow Sejic makes me forget that, and simply makes me fall in love with whatever image I happen to be looking at the moment. Just spectacular, spectacular work.

Sablik and Christopher’s backup story about Patrick Gleason doesn’t have the storytelling or artistic flair that the main one does, but it serves as a very good introduction to the most important person in Sara’s life. It is also an excellent portrait of a much more normal, and down to Earth kind of hero. Gleason doesn’t have supernatural powers to help him, but he serves as an equally strong, and grounding, force in Sara’s life, and is more than deserving of his own backup feature to honor the anniversary.

What’s Not So Good: Honestly, I have no complaints. Both stories are excellent and do exactly what they intend to, and the extras included–especially the art gallery–are a lot of fun to peruse.

Conclusion: One of the standard-bearers for anniversary/milestone issues as far as I’m concerned. Well worth the extra dollar for any Witchblade fan, and a great jumping on point if you’re looking to dip your toe into the Witchblade (and Top Cow) Universe.

Grade: A

– SoldierHawk

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