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Witchblade #147 – PREVIEW

witchblade147_cover

Witchblade #147 PREVIEW

story RON MARZ
art & cover STJEPAN SEJIC

TIAMAT, Part Two
In modern day New York, the ancient Babylonian goddess Tiamat seeks vengeance upon current Witchblade bearer, Sara Pezzini, to settle an ancient score. With the weight of recent events bearing down on her, can Sara possibly stave off a power older than civilization itself? Join longtime writer RON MARZ (ARTIFACTS, MAGDALENA) and collaborator STJEPAN SEJIC (BROKEN TRINITY, ANGELUS) as they charge towards the landmark issue #150!

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Deadlands: Death Was Silent – One-Shot – Advanced Review

Death Was Silent By: Ron Marz (writer and editor), Bart Sears (artist), Michael Atiyeh (colors)

Backup Dime Novel “Prey” By: C. Edward Sellner (writer and colorist), Alejandro Aragon (artist)

The Story: Lead (Death Was Silent): A bounty hunter with an odd way of talking drifts into town on a rainy night and he isn’t here for the company.

Backup (Prey): Billy the Kid’s latest installment in the weird western world of the Deadlands.

What’s Good: Ron Marz delivers a high concept weird western. Why high concept? Four words: weird western black ops. Marz makes good use of the conventions of the weird western genre, which are themselves built of the classic tropes of the western and dark fantasy genres. The western excels at the outsider bringing law to a town on the frontier, where he is friendless, outgunned, disrespected and despised. The tone was set perfectly in the opening sequence as our hero rides into town under sheets of rain, when a kid comes up to him and says, “Hey mister, you kill that guy?” This nods to the western genre and misdirects at the same time. Beautiful. And the dialogue throughout is terse and tight with tension.

Bart Sears and Michael Atiyeh on art were excellent. I’d last seen Sears’ work on Justice League International and some Crossgen titles. Here, it is totally different, more subdued and gritty, less self-aware. It reminds me a bit of the European styles used in their western comics. It does not try to be beautiful, because its subjects certainly are not. This fits the gross, dirty and corrupt town of this story. Sears’ action sequences are cool and I was sold on the art right in the opening sequence and the ride into town under the rain.
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Artifacts #9 – Review

By Ron Marz (writer), Jeremy Haun (art), Sunny Gho of IFS (colors), Troy Peteri (letters)

Warning: small spoilers ahead

The Story: Finally, one of the biggest pieces of the elaborate puzzle that is Artifacts falls into place as the main villain behind the plot to unmake the universe reveals his ultimate motivation. Can Sara and the good Artifact Bearers convince the mysterious 13th Bearer to come to their side–and where does Sara and Jackie’s daughter fit in to all this?

What’s Good: I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve loved Artifacts since issue #0–and that said, THIS is the issue I have been waiting for almost a year! Our main villain finally has a cohesive motivation, and it is far more unique and interesting than I would have expected. On top of that excellent and important revelation, though, was the phenomenal scene with the 13th Bearer–the final panel of which was easily the biggest stand-up-and-cheer moment this series has had for me so far.

 

What’s Not So Good: As I’ve stated several times before, I’m no expert on artwork (although a slowly growing original art collection is helping to remedy that.) Now, to my eye the art in this issue looks quite a bit less detailed than I’m used to seeing in a Top Cow book; under the circumstances, I would usually lay the dubious credit for that at the feet of artist Jeremy Haun. However, it just so happens that I was able to look through Mr. Haun’s original page portfolio at SDCC, and I had the privilege of studying quite a few original pages from this issue. Every single one of them was beautifully detailed (I very nearly bought one, as a matter of fact.) I’m not sure if so much of that work was lost in the shrinking process or the coloring, but it’s a damn shame–and it makes me really, really understand the popularity of “artist’s editions” of books that have just the original pencil work. There really is something that is lost in the translation from pencil to final product.
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Witchblade #146 – Review

By Ron Marz (writer), Stjepan Sejic (art) and Troy Peteri (letters)

The Story: An artifact is stolen, its power is unleashed, and an ancient enemy of the Witchblade rises to seek out the current bearer of the Balance.

What’s Good: Is there anything better than to open a comic book and be greeted by Stjepan Sejic’s artwork? Not for me there isn’t. Whether it’s the rough, gritty streets of New York, the Cthulhuesque features of some new hellspawn or (as here) the rich and beautiful details of an Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh’s throne room, Sejic’s jaw dropping talent provide enough eye candy to keep even this story-and-character obsessed reviewer happy irrespective of the rest of the book’s content.

Happily (VERY happily) Sejic’s work is only further enhanced here by a very promising story. This is Marz and Sejic’s last hurrah on Witchblade (at least for the foreseeable future), and it looks as if they’re planning to go out with a thoroughly epic bang. Ancient gods, monsters, and not a little Witchblade lore all look to be involved and woven together into a massive tapestry of history and drama.

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Artifacts #8 – Review

By Ron Marz (writer), Whilce Portacio (pencils), Joe Weems (inks), Marco Galli & Mike Odle (ink assists), Sunny Gho (colors), Troy Peteri (letters)

The Story: The second chapter of the Artifacts saga comes to a close with a huge struggle to gain control of the mysterious 13th Artifact and its wayward and unpredictable bearer. Underneath this larger battle, too, several individual rivalries are pushing themselves to the forefront. How will this ultimately affect the fight for control of the power to re (or un) make reality? Only time will tell.

What’s Good: While I’m very much looking forward to what Jeremy Haun will bring to the table for Artifact’s final chapter, I’m going to miss the detailed and epic job Whilce Portacio does, especially on the bigger and more fantastical monsters and set pieces. (In this issue, the throwdown between Glorianna Silver and Michael Finnigan–bearers of the Ember Stone and Glacier Stone respectively–is particularly impressive.)

From a storytelling standpoint, this issue represents the nadir for our team of heroes–the odds are impossible, hope (both literal and figurative) seems remote, and they have just angered the one being in the universe with the power to single-handedly destroy them. Marz handles this very well, imbuing Sara’s team with the perfect combination of tough determination and cynical, graveyard humor.

What’s Not So Good: The only complaint I can really voice about the series at this point is that, when taking the last 3-4 issues as a whole, it does feel like things are being more drawn out than necessary. While this is undoubtedly an excellent and game changing story for the TCU, I get the feeling that 13 issues were decided on more for the cute ‘matching up with the number of Artifacts’ factor than because of actual storytelling necessity. Since this is still easily the best event book to come out in a long, long time though, complaining about having more than necessary seems somehow ungrateful. ;-)

Conclusion: This issue shows that Artifacts is still going as strong as ever. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how this story plays out, and to learning more about the nature of that mysterious #13.

Grade: A-

-SoldierHawk

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Artifacts #8 – PREVIEW

artifacts08_cover

Artifacts #8 (of 13)

(W) Ron Marz
(A) Whilce Portacio
(Cov) Eric Canete, John Tyler Christopher

Mass Combat!

The combined forces of the Artifact bearers aligned with Witchblade bearer Sara Pezzini and The Darkness host Jackie Estacado have reached a truce with the cybernetic heroes of Cyberforce. They’ve fought off the relentless assassin Aphrodite IV, but that was only the beginning. Pushed to the limit, can they defeat a force that dwarfs everything they’ve faced before?

From Top Cow Universe architect Ron Marz (Witchblade, Magdalena) and legendary artist Whilce Portacio (The Darkness, Uncanny X-Men) bring the second chapter of the epic event series to a thunderous conclusion. Featuring a gorgeous cover by Portacio as well as a variant cover featuring Alina Enstrom by John Tyler Christopher (Witchblade).

Each issue will also feature a Top Cow Origin backup written by Marz and drawn by a superstar artist.

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Witchblade #145 – Review

By Ron Marz (writer), Stjepan Sejic (art), Troy Peteri (letters)

The Story: Intrepid reporter Gretchen Fullmer is on the trail of a hot story: a female knight in armor (or was it a female superhero in tights?) was spotted fighting a dragon (and/or evil robot) in the sewers of New York. ‘Gretch’ is determined to get to the bottom of the reports, but will Sara help or hinder her quest for the truth?

What’s Good: Stjepan Sejic back on a regular Witchblade issue? That makes me want to do the Happy Snoopy Dance, especially since this outing is not disappointing in the slightest. In addition to capturing Sara’s voice in his usual excellent manner, Marz does a great job of giving Sejic some fantastic set pieces, action sequences, and splash pages to go nuts with. (The two full-page spreads of Sara-as-knight and Sara-as-superhero are particularly impressive.)

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