"The Magdalena #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Top Cow Productions / Image Comics
Written by Tini Howard and Ryan Cady
Illustrated by Christian DiBari
Colored by Mike Spicer
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on April 26th, 2017
For centuries, the Magdalena has fought evil with the Spear of Destiny. This artifact has been passed down generation to generation to women sharing the blood of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. Patience is the current Magdalena, serving for longer than any other in history. Her time appears to be ending, however, as she's suffering from a mortal wound inflicted by a demon and the Spear is calling out to another. Things do not look good for her, but that doesn't mean she's going to stop fighting. It's quite the opposite.
There's an intriguing dynamic in The Magdalena as writers Tini Howard and Ryan Cady play with the idea of legacy. You can compare this concept to something like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where there's a Chosen One who has special abilities. Once she dies, they're passed on to the next in line. These are dangerous lives and rarely is there an opportunity for them to train their successor and take an active supporting role. That is not the case here as Patience works with Maya dos Santos, preparing her for the dangers ahead.
It seems obvious that Patience is on the way out, however, it's not as if she's thrown to the wolves. If she is shuffling off this mortal coil, she's getting a deserving sendoff. More importantly, she's showing Maya what it means to be the Magdalena. These are the lengths you must go. You can never give up, even if the odds are stacked against you. It is rather ominous to see her bleeding from her side, not unlike the mark left on Christ with the Spear of Destiny.
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Maya is already putting her own spin on the role, outfitting herself in customized armor. She's young and untrained, but she's a quick learner. For someone that's suddenly thrust into a very stressful and deathly profession, she is handling it very well.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Magdalena story without a few demons and this book delivers them in spades. Beelzebub is a major threat here and he's creepy as Hell. There's a scene where Maya's about to eat a burrito, but Patience stops her as the food is infested with flies. She explains that he hold dominion over pestilence and swarm and meat is just dead flesh. Think about that for a minute. You can't even eat a burrito because a demon messed it up. That is truly evil.
Artist Christian DiBari shows what happens when people are not as careful with their burritos. There's this crazy shot of some folks one step away from being full-fledged zombies. This one guy in the foreground is tearing his mouth open, ripping the skin apart. It's so unsettling and gruesome. Yes, I loved it. The infected have this hollow, dead look in their eyes. They don't know what they're doing and Patience and Maya have to do their best not to kill them while also protecting themselves.
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DiBari's work fluctuates, sometimes showcasing gorgeously detailed panels and other times offering little more than basic human forms. He excels in action scenes, capturing the frenetic energy that comes when two women beat up a horde of zombie people. This especially comes through in the training sequence at the beginning of the book. Dibari makes this exciting by mixing up the panels and highlighting specific moments as Patience shows Maya the ropes.
Mike Spicer's colors cast a foreboding tone over The Magdalena. Obviously, there are demons about and they're up to no good, however there's more to it. You have the dark cloud hanging over Patience. Her future is uncertain and you can feel that dread hanging there. I'm not sure where this is set, but there are palm trees. Spicer makes palm trees feel ominous.
If the Spear of Destiny is being passed on to the next in line, it's being handled well and with respect to Patience's time as the Magdalena. To compare it one last time to Buffy, it puts her in the role of the Watcher, guiding Maya in a way that she did not receive. This is how you pass the torch.