A New Beginning For Top Cow’s Flagship Title – Witchblade #1

by Brendan M. Allen

“LIFE AFTER,” Part One: Gunned down and left for dead on a New York rooftop, Alex Underwood’s life should have ended there—but instead, at the moment of death, she became host to the Witchblade, a mystical artifact that grants the woman wielding it extraordinary powers. But the power comes with a heavy cost, and Alex finds herself thrust into the center of an unseen battle raging on the snowy streets of NYC. Demons are real and walking among humans, and every one of them is intent on taking out the Witchblade’s newest host before she becomes too strong to kill. But the artifact chose Alex for a reason, and she’s not going down without a fight.

Top Cow Productions’ original Witchblade series was published from 1995-2015. The series centered on a sentient weapon that bonded with a female host to fight supernatural forces. Enjoying a twenty year run of 185 issues, the series came to a natural end when the weapon’s previous host Sarah Pezzinni retired, leaving the titular symbiote in search of a host. It was a nice clean ending, but also left the door wide open for a future creative team to pick up the story and run with it.

Enter Caitlin Kittredge and Roberta Ingranata, with a new collective vision that takes a well worn favorite in a completely new direction.

This WITCHBLADE is a total reboot, with a new heroine, new continuity, and new backstory for the Witchblade itself. Basically, the previous volume is Patrick Stewart Star Trek and our book is J.J. Abrams Star Trek. Same source material, totally new take on the interpretation.  -Caitlin Kittredge

Witchblade’s new symbiotic host Alex Underwood is a former television personality who currently works in the District Attorney’s Witness Aid Support Unit. It’s her responsibility to guide victims of violent crime through through the harrowing process of dealing with the trauma they’ve already experienced and eventually facing down their attackers in the courtroom. One day, she finds herself dead, and then she isn’t. She has this weird bracelet on, and starts having visions of past and present events.

Beyond that, the non-linear format of this opening issue makes it hard to delve much into plot or setup without giving spoilers. Kittredge keeps the readers on their heels by bouncing around from storyline current, to the setup for Alex’s murder, and bizarre dream sequences as her brain tries to wrap around her current situation.

The most obvious differences between classic Witchblade and Witchblade 2017 can be found in Roberta Ingranata’s artwork. Ingranata nails the character work through expressions, posture, and ambulation, then gives us vicious fight scenes with crazy perspectives and angles that make them as chaotic for the reader as for the participants. All of that, without shredding a single female character’s clothes. Weird, right? I know.

If you’re looking for that classic, mostly naked heroine from the nineties, she isn’t here. This is a different book. Set in the same universe with the same sentient artifact, but with a very different host in a different time. There’s enough of the original mythos present that longtime readers can find their way around, but this new beginning is also accessible enough that brand new readers with absolutely zero foreknowledge will feel right at home. This is exactly what the series needed to move forward.

Witchblade #1, published by Image/Top Cow Productions, released 06 December 2017. Written by Caitlin Kittredge, art by Roberta Ingranata, color by Bryan Valenza, letters by Troy Peteri.

Brendan M. Allen

Brendan Allen has probably had more jobs than you would reasonably believe. Dog trainer? He’s done it. Flooring contractor? You bet! EMT? Army NBC specialist? Road dog for a Celtic rock band? Yes, yes, and och aye! Now he reads comics and writes about them. It’s a rough gig. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @SaintAmish where he mostly tweets about comic books and cystic fibrosis awareness.