I’ve never been a big fan of regular monthly titles that have their storylines hijacked by company-wide crossovers. I understand that part of the reason behind major events is getting people interested in a publisher’s catalog, but not giving a reader the whole story unless they purchase a multitude of tangential titles with “must read” chapters always irked me. Thankfully, this month’s Witchblade #137 ties into Top Cow’s Artifacts crossover without pandering to the event, and manages to introduce a new player into the fold to boot.
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Stjepan Sejic
Ever since Necromancer Abby van Alstine got another shot at a regular ongoing during 2007′s Pilot Season, I was hoping to see her make the jump to the big time at Top Cow. Even though Velocity ended up winning, I still held out hope that someone would see the potential in the character, and use her somewhere else down the line. That’s where Ron Marz and Witchblade #137 come in. The issue is basically a formal reintroduction to Abby, and how she’ll fit into the Top Cow U, and it works pretty well. You get a pretty good sense of the type of person Abby is, an explanation of her powers, and you get to see her in action with Sara. As I’ve pointed out before, Marz has a solid grasp on this type of issue, and manages to make the story wholly its own, while still making sure to incorporate the slightest hints of the larger picture. It’s everything a tie-in issue should be. That said, the issue focuses so much on Necromancer, and not the titular Witchblade, that the story feels like it could have been a one-shot instead of taking place in a Witchblade book. Of course, as the results of Pilot Season have proven, the market for Witchblade is obviously stronger than the market for a Necromancer book. I just hope enough people are interested in more Necromancer stories when all is said and done. If she survives, that is.
It’s tough coming up with new ways to compliment interior artist Stjepan Sejic, as he’s really come into his own on this title, and has shown time and again that he’s up for painting anything in the script. It’s always challenging for artists to put their own unique spin on a character someone else created, but Sejic is able to adapt Abby to his version of the Top Cow U very nicely, while still keeping in line with Francis Manapul’s original vision. The sequences at the end of the book where she’s actually weaving spells in combat are fantastic, and Sejic does a great job bringing the fantastical elements of magic into the “real” world. The only real disappointing thing about Sejic’s art this month is that we don’t get to see that Cthulu-like monster in action on the interior. I think working with a writer like Ron Marz has only helped Sejic grow as a storyteller. I have no issue with his layouts at all, but I wonder how good a book like this would look if he started experimenting a bit more, and began to push the limits of just how much of his art a page could contain.
Though it should come as no surprise, Witchblade #137 is yet again another solid effort by all involved. Consistently good month in and month out, Marz and Sejic continue telling some of the best non-Marvel/DC superhero stories on the market. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Abby van Alstine, and look forward to seeing her expanded role in Artifacts. If you missed picking this book up on Wednesday, go back and pick it up this weekend. It’s worth it.