Waiting For The Trade – Witchblade Volume 8

Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Stjepan Sejic
Letterer: Troy Peteri

Collects: Witchblade #125-130

I bought this trade before I began my recent stint of “One-trade-a-day” reviews but I’ve left it sitting there in its Forbidden Planet bag. This is one of my foibles, when I’m really looking forward to something I tend to put it off to savour the anticipation, in this instance was the pay-off worth the self-generated hype? Well, let’s start by saying this trade collects the arc “War of the Witchblades” which sets the two wielders of the Witchblade against one another. When I last reviewed a Witchblade trade (Vol 4, January 2010 Thumbs Up) the latter of these two characters, Danielle Baptiste, had just been introduced. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then and things have built steadily to the point where during Danielle and Sara Pezzini are at odds…I won’t go any further to avoid spoilers.

The story really delivers, it’s not full of twists and turns but is still a page-turner nonetheless and I quickly devoured the volume. While the plot might not dance about overly the characters remain consistent and show the development they’ve earned over previous arcs. Sara’s partner Gleason is a particular favourite, not only because he’s the leading man but because he remains steadfast in what he’s about, protecting Sara and her daughter Hope, even when it’s a thankless task. The outcome, which I won’t detail here, is pretty satisfying. While I guessed one aspect of it, another took me by surprise, which is always nice.

My wavering thumb (as noted below) is down to the art, it’s lost something. I’m a massive fan of Sejic and have loved all of his work in Witchblade and related titles but it just isn’t working for me in this volume. I don’t know what his process is, whether he uses 3d poser reference or photo reference, but it looks like he’s using 3d poser models and in this volume the painting over the top of them is somehow “less” and the poser models are really obvious. I’ve even grabbed an old trade or two from earlier in his Witchblade work and compared and it’s definitely different. It’s most noticeable when he’s not doing the over-the-top action scenes and when the characters are in plain clothes…there’s one or two shots of Gleason which look like just a render and no other work. It’s all the more frustrating as the vast majority of the art is stunning and the story-telling remains strong.

The collection has a great selection of variant covers (the Mucha inspired 129 cover C by John Tyler Christoper is simply stunning) and while a lot of them play on the old stereotype of the sexualised Witchblade I think there’s good stuff in there.

My final thought is that Ron Marz keeps a frantic pace in his writing of Witchblade, it seems like every arc of the story builds up to a new peak which the next arc takes and then vaults over…from the birth of Hope, the duality of the Witchblade, the strengthening of the secondary cast and underlying shadowy conspiracy…it’s tiring! I think I’m ready for some downtime but with Artifacts on the horizon (for us WFTTers) I don’t think I’m going to get it!

Rating:
Reviewer: Dave Williams

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