Witchblade #130 Preview

On sale this Wednesday September 9 is the conclusion to the electric War of the Witchblades story arc by writer Ron Marz and artist Stjepan Sejic. Top Cow describe it like so:

“War of the Witchblades” Part 6 (of 6)

(W) Ron Marz (A) Stjepan Sejic (Cov) Sejic, Adriana Melo

“War of the Witchblades” concludes here!

Will Sara Pezzini or Dani Baptiste emerge as the sole bearer of the Witchblade? Or will it be a completely new bearer? And who is the new Angelus?

Featuring a cover by regular artist Sejic and two variant covers by classic Witchblade artist Adriana Melo (Ms. Marvel)!

Cover A – Stjepan Sejic

Cover B – Adriana Melo Sara

Cover C – Adrian Melo Danielle


WB130 CoverC

WB130 recap






War Of The Witchblades Conclusion

September’s Witchblade #130 will end the epic War of the Witchblades saga that has exploded from the Top Cow title as of late, and will reveal who exactly will be the new Witchblade, and Angelus, wielders. Top Cow are playing coy and have revealed three alternate covers for the issue, with the identities up for debate. Press release, and covers, below.

Top Cow Productions, Inc. proudly announced today that “War of the Witchblades” will reach its conclusion in Witchblade #130.  Who will emerge as the sole bearer of the Witchblade?  Will it be Sara Pezzini or Dani Baptiste?  Or will it be a completely new bearer?  And who will become the new Angelus?  

Witchblade #130 will be the landmark 50th issue of Witchblade written by Ron Marz, The issue is also the 22nd collaborative Witchblade comic with Ron Marz and Sjepan Sejic.  Witchblade #130 is expected in comic book stores on Wednesday, September 9, 2009.  

Ron Marz had this to say about the issue:

“The book has very much been a two-character drama since we introduced Dani. We might not have had both characters in every issue, but both characters were definitely a presence in the book. At the end of this storyline, we’ll be back to focusing on one character and that character’s life.”

“There are a lot of different plot threads going on in this arc – Sara, Dani, Sara’s sister Julie, Dani’s friend Finch, the Angelus. And while they might seem like disparate threads now, they’ll all tie together.”

“I will say this: when I kill somebody in one of my books, they stay killed if I have anything to say about it. Death shouldn’t be a revolving door, because it saps the drama out of a story. Sara’s first partner, Jake, took a dirt nap, and it’s gonna stay that way. If somebody is really dead, they’re dead.”

“Somebody ends up with the Witchblade, somebody ends up as the Angelus. But I’m not telling who. That’s why we solicited three different possible versions of the Sejic cover to #130. Obviously we’re only going to press with one of them – but the question is, which one?” 

Witchblade #130 will ship with three covers; one by regular artist Sejic revealing the identity of the new Angelus bearer, as well as two covers by classic Witchblade artist Adriana Melo (Ms. Marvel) featuring Sara and Dani respectively. The issue will carry a cover price of $2.99, maintaining Top Cow’s pledge to lock in a $2.99 cover price for all their normal comics in 2009.

Witchblade #130

Witchblade #130,1

Witchblade #130 130,2

The Blade of Dracula

I interviewed partners Leah Moore (yes, Alan’s daughter) and John Reppion regarding their great new Sherlock Holmes series from Dynamite. Now, from the same company and same creators is The Complete Dracula. It’s a very faithful retelling of Bram Stoker’s legendary horror novel for comic fans. My interview with the pair is here and my review of the latest issue of the impressive Witchblade monthly is here.                                                


Top Cow Freebies

Official press release below about the 25 participating US and Canadian retailers for April’s excellent Witchblade giveaway programme. See if your LCS is on the list.

wb126_covs_page_1Top Cow Productions, Inc. revealed today the names of the participating retailers in their “Let Us Win YOU Over” initiative for April and the program would continue the second part of their “War of the Witchblades” storyline – Witchblade #126.
The “Let Us Win YOU Over” initiative is a yearlong campaign by Top Cow Productions to give out free copies of its regular comics to potential fans in the U.S. and Canada through participating comic book stores. Each month, a different set of stores, each month a different free comic. The stores vary by geography and demographics. Top Cow has partnered with ComicsPRO to bring this promotion to fans and all of February’s retailers are members of ComicsPRO.
Witchblade #126 continues the six-part “War of the Witchblades” storyline, which promises to shake the status quo of Witchblade to its foundation. Since the events of First Born, Detective Sara Pezzini and dancer Danielle Baptiste have shared the mystical gauntlet, the Witchblade; but recently cracks have appeared in their relationship. The cracks widen in issue #126 pointing an inevitable battle. Regular writer Ron Marz writes the story with art by ongoing artist Stjepan Sejic. The issue will be in comic shops on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 and normally retails for $2.99.
“It’s not a coincidence that we decided to run Let Us Win YOU Over in conjunction with one of our best stories in Witchblade to date,” said Filip Sablik, Publisher of Top Cow. “The second chapter of “War of the Witchblades” digs deeper into the roots of Sara and Dani’s conflict and serves as another great jumping on point for new readers.”

“We are very excited to be a part of this Top Cow promotion,” commented Anna Warren, owner of Illusive Comics & Games of Santa Clara, CA, “Readers love free samples as a generous way to get a taste of a series they might not have otherwise picked up.  And the promotion Top Cow has been doing is a great help to comic book stores, getting new comic book fans into stores. ”

“Top Cow has really listened to retailers and is doing what it takes to fully market Indie titles to the average comic book reader,” added Warren.

A list of the participating retailers during the month of April (listed alphabetically by state) is included below. Additional information can be found at the official online home of the “Let Us Win YOU Over” initiative – www.topcow.com/freecomics. Customers who currently purchase Witchblade at the stores below will be able to purchase an extremely limited “All Beef” Edition (limited to just the stores listed below) at the regular cover price. Fans are encouraged to contact the retailer they wish to visit for specific details:

Continue reading

Witchblade #125 Review

My review of the anniversary issue of Witchblade #125 is now up at Broken Frontier. This ish is the start of the War of the Witchblades story arc and is written by Ron Marz with gorgeous art by Stjepan Sejic as usual. It’s a great introduction to the world of the Witchblade and an enjoyable read. This has been an impressive title lately.


War of the Witchblades

Official press release below, regarding another milestone issue for one of Top Cow’s most famous titles (following The Darkness #75). 

wb125_cov_cTop Cow Productions, Inc. proudly announced today that the company’s flagship title, Witchblade, will reach issue #125 in March 2009, and the publisher will celebrate this landmark event with an oversized issue including a bonus story. Witchblade #125 brings the series’ critically acclaimed team of writer Ron Marz and artist Stjepan Sejic together to begin the six-part story arc “War of the Witchblades” which the publishers note is the biggest and most ambitious plot they’ve attempted with their flagship character.

Following the events of 2008’s First Born, the Witchblade was split into two halves and the responsibilities split between long time bearer Sara Pezzini and newcomer Danielle Baptiste. Up to this point, Sara and Dani have worked together and developed a sisterly relationship, but that will all change beginning in issue #125. Witchblade #125, which will wrap up long standing plot conflicts Ron Marz has been adding to Witchblade since he first took over writing duties for the series in 2004 with issue #80, will begin a new era for the comic that the publisher aims to refresh the series for long-standing readers as well as make an attractive jump-on point for new readers unfamiliar with Witchblade. Sejic and Marz have committed themselves to working on Witchblade as the core creative team through issue #150. Sejic has been the regular artist for Witchblade since issue #116. Artist Chris Bachalo (Uncanny X-Men, Amazing Spider-Man) joins Marz and Sejic for Witchblade #125 to contribute a two-part cover variant featuring protagonists Pezzini and Baptiste. A third cover by Sejic will also be offered.

Witchblade, which has been translated to TV as TNT’s #1 original film of 2000 and its subsequently successful TV series, has been Top Cow’s longest-running series. “Writer Ron Marz continues to plow up so much new ground on Witchblade that I’m beginning to suspect that rather than using a keyboard to pound out his scripts, he might actually be utilizing a 40-ton earthmover instead,” attests comic book talent Terry Austin (Uncanny X-Men). Jim Cheung, artist of Young Avengers and New Avengers comments, “With compelling stories by one of my favorite writers, and astonishing artwork that makes me want to tuck myself into a corner and cry, I can’t think why Witchblade shouldn’t be on everyone’s reading list.” Witchblade #125 will also feature a bonus story written by Rob Levin (Darkness: Butcher) and Marco Castiello (Secret Invasion: Frontline).

Top Cowabunga!

Now you can skate to the comic shop with reckless abandon and declare your love for Darkness, Savage Dragon or Witchblade at the same time! “Get out of my way!” you’ll scream as you tear past dordling pedestrians. “I’m a comic reader and I need my fix!” Anyway, Top Cow are releasing some perty decks in conjunction with Graphic Image Skateboards. Below is the official press release.

Top Cow Productions, Inc. and Graphic Image Skateboards are proud to announce new Witchblade and Darkness skateboards are available for purchase starting November 1, 2008. Pre-orders are now being accepted.

These skateboards are available as deck only, complete with trucks and wheels, and are made from seven plies of hard rock maple and feature high-resolution graphics that are nothing short of spectacular. A very limited number of skateboards are available signed by Top Cow Productions founder and CEO Marc Silvestri, who co-created Witchblade and The Darkness.

“The partnership with Top Cow is simply surreal to me,” marveled Andrew Brousseau, founder of Graphic Image Skateboards. “When Image and Top Cow were founded back in 1992, it really revitalized for me the excitement that was once found in visiting the local comic book store. And so in partnering up with Top Cow today to make skateboards, I really feel it’s an incredible opportunity to revitalize the excitement that was once found in buying a new skateboard deck.”

“We’re absolutely thrilled by this partnership,” exclaimed Top Cow President Matt Hawkins. “Graphic Image Skateboards produce fine, quality decks and we’re more than happy to lend our characters to their line.”

Graphic Image Skateboards also has a Savage Dragon deck available, based on the character created by Erik Larsen and published by Image Central, which, along with Todd McFarlane Productions and Top Cow, make up Image Comics.

For all pricing and pre-order inquires please contact Andrew Brousseau at abrousseau@mts.net, or visit www.graphicimageskateboards.com.

Witchblade Volume 5 Review

I can count the issues of Witchblade that I’ve actually read on one hand, but with the TV show from a few years ago, and the relatively new anime adaptation, plus the upcoming feature film, it’s not like I’ve been unaware of the series. I guess I had unfair expectations laid upon it, as it was one of those books that began in the mid 1990s, when the bad girl craze was sweeping the comic reading public into a hormonal frenzy. Characters like the star of this book were lumped together with Lady Death, Vampirella and many more whose sole function seemed to be to titillate prepubescent readers.

Witchblade was also a character created by four different creators, so that didn’t necessarily help find its focus. However, in the last few years, publishers Top Cow have wisely started to integrate and expand their roster of characters. This move can be seen clearly in this volume, with guest stars from other Top Cow titles and the history of the Witchblade becoming deeper. Recently this series has begun revealing numerous wielders over the years of this powerful mystical gauntlet that is the ultimate girl power accessory, which opens up even more story possibilities.

This TPB is a hefty one, as it collects the Cow x-over mini-series, First Born as well as issues #110-115 of the ongoing Witchblade series. There’s also an introduction from The Walking Dead and Invincible creator, Robert Kirkman and a dazzling cover gallery. All in all this tome contains all 226 colour pages. That’s a lot, and the best thing I can say about it is that I read it all in one sitting. Believe me, that’s high praise indeed. I barely got out of my seat as I flicked through these glorious pages. It had my attention and wouldn’t let go, and that’s something I wasn’t expecting.

Basically, the first few issues of this adventure are focused on cop, and former Witchblade wielder, Sara Pezzini, as well as mob boss Jackie Estacado, AKA The Darkness, the holy warrior Magdalena, Dani Baptiste, a dancer and current Witchie owner and baddest of the bad girls, Celestine AKA The Angelus.

This book starts off with a handy one page guide, which explains all the characters in this world in a pleasantly succinct way. The beauty of this tale is that it’s intense and epic, but not overly complicated, which is more than we can say for most of what’s on offer from The Big Two. Even if you’ve never read an issue of Witchblade before, you won’t feel scared off by this volume.

Written by one of my favourite writers, Ron Marz (Green Lantern Kyle Rayner’s creator) this book details the war fought for Sara’s upcoming baby, of whom the origins are mysterious, though the details are eventually revealed. Lots of running and hiding and fighting ensues as the pregnant Sara, her lover, fellow cop Patrick Gleason (I keep thinking of the GL Corps penciller of the same name!) and sometime ally Jackie Estacado gang up to defeat Angelus’ winged warriors. As Estacado tells Detective Gleason, “In real life, the bad guys don’t always wear black and the ones with wings aren’t always the good guys.” That sums up the supernatural/spiritual/primal themes pretty well. The three manage to fight the hordes (that look like something director Guillermo del Toro would’ve imagined) and escape, after Gleason somehow survives a brutal stabbing. Jackie takes Sara and Dani straight to a secret cavern, where Magdalena shows up. Sara gives birth and the battle begins anew as the Angelus and her followers struggle to keep the baby all to themselves for the sake of the Balance. The newborn, later dubbed Hope brings a surprising victory, which also leaves the Witchblade split in two, for Sara and Dani.

After this battle concludes, things change pace somewhat abruptly. Sara adjusts to life as a new mother, Dani finds a budding romance with a shop owner called David Worthy, yet the girls still manage to find action, or rather, it finds them as they take Hope for a stroll in the park and find that evil forces still want the baby for their own purposes. Both girls also manage to run into different muggers while shopping at different times, which makes the action in the second half seem more forced than the first. The last few issues are akin to Buffy Lite; lots of girls talking casually, new relationships forming, but with short bursts of fighting interspersed throughout. Some may find all the dialogue a bit annoying after the hectic first half, but Marz is a gifted writer and handles it naturally. With this much going on, the fact that there is no lengthy exposition or narration is pretty impressive.

This is a light read, despite its burgeoning cast of characters and lengthy history and its very easy to keep track of what’s going on at all times. I can’t go any further without mentioning the art. It’s beautiful and I don’t mean the fact that all the girls look like supermodels (and so do the guys, come to think of it) Stjepan Sejic is the primary artist. His pages are luscious. Obviously tinkered with computer to look like paintings, he has a skill that deserves more work. Look at the cover gallery included and you’ll see what I mean. There’s enough pretty pictures (even his ugly monsters look gorgeous) to fill a Metallica fans bedroom walls. In every panel, the light, textures and backgrounds are all rendered with such detail; a rarity in the posing superheroes against blank backgrounds in a lot of comics today. If I was on the Cow’s marketing team, I’d create ads from these pages in every heavy metal mag I could get a hold of. Long haired head bangers would lap this art up I’m sure.

More traditional and seasoned pencillers such as Luke Ross, Stephen Sadwoski and Rick Leonardi fill out the remainder of this volume, but the change is not jarring from one ish to the next. There is also a preview of The Darkness ongoing series, which details its supernatural origin effectively.

There is some profanity here and themes that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I was impressed by this series and would be curious to see where it goes next. All the hard work building this universe has paid off. Jaded fanboys and newcomers alike will find something to sink their teeth into here, and probably will want seconds. Surprisingly recommended.

The Art of Marc Silvestri

Those Image Comics founders sure know how to draw. Without those mad pencilling skills, there’s no way they ever could’ve jumped Marvel’s ship back in 1992 and bring a whole lotta fans with them. Silvestri is one of those original rebels and his pencils on his own creations like Witchblade, Cyberforce and The Darkness (also a freakily good console game) are things of equal beauty and horror. He has returned to Marvel over the last few years to perty up the pages of X-Men, primarily during the Messiah CompleX series.

The Art of Marc Silvestri book covers the Top Cow CEO’s whole career and also features commentaries by fellow artists Dave Finch, Brandon Peterson, Billy Tan, Mike Choi and Michael Broussard.

The full colour 96 page hard cover book goes on sale August 20, for $US29.99. It’d make a great coffee table book for art lovers or fans of superheroes and villains and the tight bodies that they all possess. See what I mean by checking out a few luscious pages below.

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