It’s not very often that a comic title reaches 175 issues in an uninterrupted run, especially for a smaller publisher. Yet not only does Witchblade show no signs of slowing down, but it’s had a live action TV show, an Anime, a manga and a Japanese novel based on the anime. But a comic series doesn’t last this long without being good, regardless of how large its publisher is.
Witchblade 175 acts as a double-sized anniversary issue with three stories. The first two are written by Ron Marz, who returned to the series in issue 170. The main story serves as an epilogue for the last five issues, dealing with the aftermath of Sara Pezzini abandoning the Witchblade once it started acting up, only to be forced to reclaim it when the Angelus tried to take total control. It examines the relationship between Sara and the ancient artifact of power and exactly who is in control. While it will likely confuse new readers, it’s a great scene that shows how strong Sara’s will is and the hero she’s become.
The second story is just fun, involving a demonic entity in Japan and two wielders of the Witchblade dealing with it. The third story by Ashley Robinson is equally about Patrick Gleason, Sara’s partner in the NYPD. It explores the mindset of a regular cop thrown into supernatural situations that he isn’t physically equipped to deal with. He often finds himself useless in these insane fights. While the story is fun, it kind of goes too far with it. The only way he finds himself useful in this story is by pointlessly taking bullets for Sara when the artifact of power will heal her. It’s still fun, but there could have been a better way for Gleason to be useful.
Laura Braga’s art is fantastic in both of Ron Marz’s stories. It’s a soft look with mostly smooth lines, yet there’s a lot of detail in both the backgrounds and with the characters. The Witchblade itself has plenty of detail with its bladed tentacles, and even its powerful yet human appearance when it confronts Sara within her head. Her art in the second story is even better, with so much environmental detail in a rainy Japan and great lighting effects inside the temple. The third story is drawn by Carlos Rodriguez. It’s not as good, but it’s still more than strong enough to carry the story.
The Witching hour prose section speaks of the Witchblade’s storied history as a franchise. It doesn’t quite introduce the Witchblade to new readers as well as the previous editions, but it does point to some of the franchises best storylines while acting as a love letter. It’s worth reading, whether you’re a long-time reader or a new one. There are also several pages of Laura Braga’s sketchbook art for a neat bonus feature.
This is a solid anniversary issue, and while it doesn’t explain what the Witchblade is to new readers, it keeps things simple enough for those curious to check it out. For long-time readers, the main story is an important chapter in the relationship between the artifact and its wielder. For new readers who enjoy this issue, you should certainly check out Ron Marz’s first run on the title, where it went from being good to amazing. The series has clearly deserved its 175 issue run, and anyone who could enjoy a delightfully weird title about artifacts of power should check it out.