As a franchise, Witchblade began back in 1995, and now with issue 185 it’s coming to an end for now. But even as Sarah Pezzini’s journey with the artifact of power concludes, Stjepan Sejic begins an alternate universe story called Switch. Since both Witchblade 185 and Switch 2 released today, I feel it’s appropriate to review both of them in one post. But first, let’s start with the series finale.
Witchblade 185 is divided into 2 chapters. The first is written by Ron Marz, who is perhaps the most famous writer of this series. It’s a 16 page story where Sara figures out her time with the Witchblade has come to an end, while she reunites with an old flame in the very theatre where the Witchblade first chose her as a bearer. It’s a fun section that tosses in a delightfully weird fight scene with black and white movie monsters somehow coming to life. It also explores her history with the artifact in a nice little tribute to the series as a whole.
The art in this section is drawn by Abhishek Malsuni, and it’s great. There’s a lot of detail in everything, whether it’s the creepy old theatre, the Witchblade armour that Sarah’s reading, or a montage that shows a bunch of characters who have impacted this series at one point or another. Facial expressions do a good job at showing how Sarah’s surprised to wake up in this theatre, and how her feelings are mixed over giving the Witchblade up. The colouring by Neeraj Menon and Nanjan Jamberi add a lot of life to the art, making the theatre colourful even in its old, worn out state.
The second story is written by Matt Hawkins. It’s about Sara searching for a replacement to wield the Witchblade. In doing so, she meets up with other characters who have shown up throughout the franchise, while further exploring the series’ past. This half of the comic explores how emotionally attached Sarah is to the artifact and how she’s struggling to let it go. Finally, the comic ends with a nice dramatic moment that feels like the perfect closer.
The art in this section is handled by a whole bunch of people and it’s not worth talking about them separately. There are pages from the first few issues in the series by the late Michael Turner, which help celebrate this series the right way. Stjepan Sejic, Linda Sejic, Isaac Goodhart, Phillip Sevy, Nelson Blake II and Randy Green all contribute a few pages. All of them are good in their own right, and they touch on the different kind of art styles this series has featured over the years. J.D. Smith and Bill Farmer colour these pages quite well, providing a good mix of dark pages and bright and colourful panels.
Even though Switch just started, I’m sad to see this series end. I first read this series with issue 156 and have enjoyed it ever since. It’s a delightfully weird series that combines fantasy, mythology, crime drama and a touch of science fiction in a way that works quite well. The thank you letters written by Ron Marz, Marc Silvestri and Brian Haberlin give this issue that perfect touch to close things off. If a long running series like this need to end, than this is the right way to do it.
Switch 2 isn’t nearly as dramatic as Witchblade 185 is, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any drama. It’s mostly a fun comic, both written and drawn by Stjepan Sejic. It begins a few hours after Switch 1, with the new Witchblade wielder Mary Parker sitting in a hospital after supposedly losing a lot of blood. What’s nice is that even though in this universe Sara Pezzini never wields the Witchblade, she’s still involved as the primary investigator with what’s going on. The scene where she questions Mary is quite entertaining when she reacts to Mary’s description of a monster in the streets and merging with a cave woman. The rest of this comic mixes up a bunch of fun moments with Mary dealing with the aftermath, and story development involving familiar characters like Kenneth Irons, Ian Nottingham and the Angelus. Although there’s a touch of mystery going on, everything that new readers need to understand is explained.
The art, as usual for Sejic, is fantastic. There’s always a good amount of detail and everything is bright and colourful. Facial expressions perfectly capture everyone’s mood. Mary goes through confusion in the aftermath, annoyance when all of her co-students in high school ask questions and relief when her brother gets over his initial terror over what happened. Sarah’s confused look when Mary describes what happened is priceless. And finally, when the Angelus shows up, she’s appropriately intimidating.
Switch is off to a great start. Those who enjoy Sejic’s writing and art should pick this up, and any Witchblade fans should give this a chance. It’s not the same as the main series by any means, but it’s a fun alternate take that could very well be a worthy replacement for the time being.