This issue is a bit hard to review in some ways. The Death of Jackie Estacado was originally going to be in The Darkness series, with Stjepan Sejic on art duties. Instead, it’s relegated to a 2-part arc in Witchblade. Sure, it fits here since Sara Pezzini is the one who kills him, but a 2-part arc in another character’s book is underwhelming for such a major Top Cow player.
This arc, written by David Hine, relies on the reader having strong knowledge about the Top Cow Universe. It relies heavily on the aftermath of the Rebirth period and how it changed the Universe. It also feels a little off, with Hope appearing older in flashbacks than she was before Rebirth happened. Besides that, it’s good so far. The story feels big, and Jackie’s dark actions are bad enough to set pretty much anyone in Sara’s position off. Seeing her daughter so twisted by the changes Jackie made on the Universe are straight up traumatizing.
The art by Gabriel Rearte is a bit mixed. The environmental detail is usually strong, and the bizarre creatures and conjurations of Hope’s powers are perfectly creepy. The Witchblade itself is always detailed well and when Hope really starts digging into her dark powers, she looks terrifying. The opening pages also shows the bloody aftermath of the fight, complete with stained carpets and broken furniture. Unfortunately, most facial expressions come across as bored, and the pose Sara makes when she kills an empty husk is really awkward.
There’s really not much to spoil in this comic. The flashback at the start shows exactly how Jackie dies, and the start of Ron Marz’s second Witchblade run also showed his decapitated head in Sara’s hands. Although the art holds this issue back, there’s a lot of emotion behind the story and for that, it’s at least worth a read for those experienced with the Top Cow Universe. For newcomers though, you’ll probably be lost.