by Zachary Whittaker
It’s not exactly a well kept secret around here that I love a good vampire story, and I’m quite partial to the occasional witch too, so Witchblood was always going to get my attention. With that in mind, I’m glad it did because in both art and writing Witchblood is chock-full of personality.
Yonna journeys across Texas to meet her old acquaintance Esme when she finds herself ran off the road just outside of a small town called Carlos. There she finds herself in a confrontation with a monster hunter, before coming face to face with vampires she’s hunting. Oh and Yonna is a witch, with a pet raven called Bhu. That’s probably worth knowing. Especially the raven bit.
Narratively this is pretty dense for an opening issue, although I understand that a lot of comics need to give a lot away upfront to capture the audience’s interest, I do feel like there’s a naturally ending point here that comes a good few pages before the ending we do get. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining about the ending this issue has, I do think it works and there’s a benefit to introducing Paxton and The Hounds Of Love as a vampire motorcycle gang. I would’ve just liked more time to be given to Yonna and her confrontation with the as-yet-unnamed hex hunter.
Speaking of Yonna, she comes across as a great, likable protagonist with an incredibly cool character design. Despite being an aeons old witch, she’s presented as young, resourceful and lighthearted, all the while having a temper hidden just below the surface. While it’s not a common trait among comic book characters there’s a certain relatability in the fact that both Yonna and the hunter are perfectly willing to run away from a fight, that sets a different tone to a lot of books.
Lisa Sterle’s artwork throughout this first issue is a wonderful combination of supernatural chaos, manga influence and superb character design. Gab Contreras’ colouring adds so much to Sterle’s artwork, creating a technicolour visual that puts an extra layer of life in every page.
While I like this issue a lot, it does feel overcrowded at times, with what feels like a naturally ending point coming seven pages before the actually end of the issue, with that in mind I do wonder if Witchblood is the kind of series that is going to work better in trade than in singles where the flow of events might feel more balanced. With that being said I think there’s no denying that this first issue has the potential to be the starting point for an interesting world that contains a lot of the supernatural stuff that I’m into.