"The Magdalena: Volume 1" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by Ron Marz
Illustrated by Nelson Blake II & David Marquez
2011, 162 Pages
Trade Paperback released on August 23rd, 2011
The world of Witchblade is one of several key Artifacts. The Spear of Destiny is one such weapon and it is wielded by the Magdalena, an ancient order of warrior women with the bloodline of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdelene. It has been the duty of the Magdalena to serve the church for thousands of years, but Patience, the current holder of the Spear, has rebelled against organized religion, but not her calling to kill demons.
That is until a new mission comes down that she just can't stay away from. The Antichrist has been born. The church wants Patience to kill the child. This is her last chance. If she does not succeed or goes off the reservation again, she will be hunted and replaced by the very organization she is supposed to be serving.
Kind of a weird setup, huh? It does seem a little complicated and slightly annoying for anyone that's not a fan of Christianity or the Vatican, but Magdalena just works. It does so due to Patience. She's a powerful female lead, which is getting more and more rare in today's comics. She is strong enough to stand on her own and make her own decisions.
The situation that Patience finds herself in is an interesting twist on the time travel / Hitler idea. If you haven't heard it before, it's the idea that if you could go back in time and kill Hitler as a child, would you do it? Sure, you'd be killing a mere boy, but you'd be saving the lives of millions of people. The Magdalena is put in a similar version, but the stakes are much higher. She has the chance to kill the Antichrist and stop Satan from coming to Earth. She just has to kill a young boy to make that happen.
The powerful story is helped along with some pretty clean art from Nelson Blake II and David Marquez. Blake handles the bulk of the issues with Marquez coming in towards the end to help out. Blake's style is very precise and detail oriented. There's no confusion in his panels. Everything is there for a reason. There are a variety of demons and other creatures that pop up throughout this volume and Blake delivers on the scare factor. Giant hulking beasts, ram-headed possessed women, and that incredibly creepy child that would make the kid from the Omen think twice before performing a sacrifice to Lucifer.
While it can be a little heavy handed at times with the religious overtones, Magdalena never feels preachy. This is a good vs evil story, but the sides are not clean cut. There's a lot of grey area in the middle and Patience questions which side is right, especially when a child's life is on the line. This volume sets up the current status of the Magdalena and her quest against the forces of darkness. I'm definitely onboard for the rest of the ride.