Hot on the heels of DC’s announcement that James Robinson’s Earth 2 series will feature a rebooting of original Green Lantern Alan Scott which will have the character be an open homosexual from the beginning, comes news that Comics Vanguard have finally gotten around to writing that piece about Tim Seeley and Diego Bernard’s Free Comic Book Day issue of Witchblade.
Woof! Witchblade is a very long-running series from Top Cow which I can’t say I’ve ever known very much about. I’ve heard a lot about it, with varying reviews and thoughts about the book. This is one of those titles which features strong female characters who are drawn to be provocative and cheesecake-y on their every appearance, you see, although this never seems to reach anything like the kind of nonsense you’d find in Tarot. First comes a backstory from Ron Marz which sets up the basic shape of the universe for new readers: there are thirteen magic artefacts in the world, and each is owned by a different owner. These thirteen people seem to be the thirteen protagonists of the Top Cow Universe – I recognised The Darkness amongst them, as well as Witchblade. The other eleven all seem to be a mix of different genres, with tough cops and freakish demi-mutants (mainly the female characters, those) and hulk monsters (mainly male) all standing alongside each other. All thirteen weapons were brought together at some point, and they destroyed the universe. Bummer! Then they brought it back, with minor changes.
Hence the ‘Top Cow Rebirth’ idea. This basically works in exactly the same way as DC’s reboot, with everything changed to make it easier for new readers to jump in. After the intro, which keeps things very simple, we go straight into a Witchblade story. She is one of the thirteen characters, and has a costume which looks absolutely freezing. It’s some kind of armour which covers her body, apart from the boobs stomach and crotch, and can fire magic bolts or something.
The story is a complete prologue for the current storyline that Seeley is writing over in the main book. As such we don’t get a full narrative here, only set-up which will bring us into Witchblade’s world, and then leave us to continue on with it if we like it. It’s an interesting approach and pays off in several ways – it’s always hard to resist stories where there are a finite number of characters to keep track of, and they all have a different magic power, Power-Rangers-Style – but the story is also quite jolting for those familiar with superhero comics. Instead of a straight hero narrative we instead have a story where the gross-looking villain does whatever they want, slaughtering the surplus cast members and corrupting the main character as is their wont at any given moment.
It’s a little like a super-gross version of Angel, the TV series, although the gore isn’t too bad. The art definitely makes sure to make any attack look like rape, though, and the character poses are proud to pander to the male gaze. Seeley’s story works like a police procedural, but with a vigilante in charge instead of a by-the-books officer. It’s kinda silly, played realistically, and exactly what you’d expect to get from a Witchblade story. It’s not the sort of story that I would read, but it does show a different side of the comic-book industry, and offers an alternative to the full universes of the Marvel and DC publishing houses. Witchblade feels like it has a scope, but then dials back to only focus on the one character. There are teases to the expanded universe, and the whole thing works rather well to not only explain the Top Cow universe to new readers – but to pull them into it.