top cow

so, i was informed that sunstone hardcover book 1 (combining volumes 1 to 3) will be out in comic book stores (that stock it) on march 29

support local comic stores that carry the books you like or will order for you. so if possible, i advise getting the book there.

but i’m also not delusional. not many stores carry my books, so if all else fails, amazon, barnes and noble, book depository and other such book sources will have you covered :)

This time, I’ll be reviewing Switch #3 by Stjepan Sejic. Sorry for how long it’s been since my last review. But here I am!

Before I get to anything else, I’d like to draw attention to the cover (seen above).  Here, we have a wide variety of the wielders who our heroine, Mary Parker, draws from. I’ll identify them clockwise, starting with the bottom left. First, we have Una, who we’ve been introduced to before. A cavewoman, she was the first wielder of the Witchblade, unless others wielded it before it came to Earth. She’s not exactly one for words, befitting her time period, and seems to be more in line with using the Witchblade as a blunt instrument than as a tool for more complex strategems. Next we have Imani, an African woman who first shows up in this issue and seems to favor a bow. More on her below. Then, at the top, is Hilde, from the times of Norse mythology, with a hammer. The wielder in the Stetson hat with the overall Wild West appearance and the handgun as her primary weapon is unknown to me, but the closest I can think of for her would likely be Enola from the prime Top Cow continuity, from the one-shot “Witchblade: Day of the Outlaws.” Minato comes next, hailing from what appears to be an Asian country (which one I am uncertain, but most likely before the widespread use of firearms) and uses some form of sword from her country of origin. Lastly is a redheaded spear-wielder from what I assume is Medieval Europe, based upon her attire and, according to preview images on Mr. Sejic’s DeviantART page, a less-than-healthy obsession with killing dragons with it. This small sampling is likely not all of the wielders. In fact, I am certain of it, as Zala the Twilight Empress is not shown. However, the many conflicting opinions are very amusing and give a good feel for how the comic goes, mixing action with bickering in a satisfactory way.

Now then, on to the issue within. Much like the previous issue, this one does not dive directly into the fray. Instead, we look at Sara Pezzini’s love of coffee, not to mention a brief mention of her sister, Julie. In the prior continuity, Julie entered into a relationship with Jake McCarthy, Detective Pezzini’s partner, but he appears to not even know about said sister in this one, judging from how Sara has to identify her by name. Given that this comic focuses heavily on the adventures (and misadventures) of Mary, her friends, and her enemies both known and unknown, I am unsure if the relationship will come up again. Joe Siry, the captain in charge of Sara’s precinct, also appears, but it is unknown if he will have an important role either, especially considering he seems to be more angry with what has happened regarding the Irons City Grid, whereas he had a connection to Kenneth Irons in the prior continuity. On a related note, I love the use of word bubbles in this scene. While there have been dashes on the outside of said bubbles before to show anger or other high emotion in voices, the heart-shaped bubble that showed when Dectective Pezzini took a sip of her long-awaited coffee showed far more emotion than some other authors would, when they would perhaps place a tilde (~) at the end of a phrase to indicate playfulness or lengthen words, increasing their size or repeating certain letters in a word.

When we last left our heroine, she was about to face off against General Celestine of the Angelus Warriors. I have to feel bad for the guy whose car is utterly smashed (along with Mary’s rib) in the part of the fight we enter upon. Still, it was very amusing. When we come back to Una, I was very pleased to see that Mr. Sejic is taking into account that while Mary is channeling the super strength of Una, she is still a “scrawny teenager” and so cannot perform the same feats.

That’s what we have Imani for, who takes up the role of channeled power. I enjoy the look at the different sides of the different bearers. While Una is filled with primal anger and courage, Imani instead projects wisdom and determination. While Una moves with Mary, practically possessing her, Imani instead guides her as a teacher, only taking complete control when absolutely needed. Una’s unbridled ferocity worked for some situations, but not all, as there is no real attempt at defensive measures. By contrast, the first thing Imani does is show Mary how to defend against the holy fire that Celestine projects, then how to create a bow. That bow in particular was something that I greatly enjoyed. I have always been a fan of using powers in unique ways, and the way in which Mary is taught to not only disassemble the threads that make up the three arrows she simultaneously loosed, but also entangle her opponent and even banish her to the plane from which she came without needing to use anything more than vocal commands really shows more of what mystical effects the Witchblade is capable of.

This isn’t to say that Una is useless. As soon as the fight against this more powerful foe is over, she helps to guide Mary in climbing a building away from the police. All that this means is that Una is more attuned to less refined forms of defense, such as running when needed and not in direct combat.

Sonatine’s aggravation never ceases to amuse me. He seems like a man who feels as though he is completely surrounded by imbeciles who cannot accomplish anything of import. Still, he also seems rather kind, for what he can do. He is relatively nice to Tony, his charge, though harsh when he feels he has to be in order to protect him. On the other hand, I found it rather odd that Tony immediately knew Mary is the same person with whom he was once very friendly. Still, this is somewhat ameliorated by the fact that he asks for her last name. Most other fiction would completely ignore that half and assume that there is only one person per first name, even if this is not the case. In fact, this happens sometimes for people I know in my own life, where it is no less silly in my opinion.

The return to Sara and Jake at the scene of the battle had another refreshing addition. While all of the data of the fight was digitally removed from all mobile devices of the people who saw said fight, Sara is rather astute, immediately becoming suspicious of Kenneth Irons, who would have access to the data, and whose city protection grid has failed twice in recent times, both times at these “angel” sightings. Of course, this raises questions about why Irons does not manufacture more issues with his grid at other times to cover his tracks, but that can be chocked up to his apparent egotism.

Following Irons himself discussing how he is in need of adapting his plans to changing circumstances and how he may be visited by one of the Angelus’ agents, Mary finds herself in “the Crossing,” which could be deemed a kind of waiting room for the fallen of the Witchblade, where they come across one another. Here, Mary learns of the past of the Witchblade, including the Darkness and the Angelus, along with meeting with Una and Imani in person.

Imani’s description of the purpose for the Witchblade is very potent, not to mention one I enjoy as a synopsis. “A whisper of SHADOW to offer shelter from endless light – if ANGELUS was to claim victory… a SPARK of light to keep the universe anchored if DARKNESS was to prevail.”

Also interesting, not to mention hilarious, is Mary’s even more succinct description of its nature. “Light and darkness HATE each other except this one time when they LIKED each other very very much, made a BABY, and that baby is now this thing on my hand, right?” Hard to deny that’s pretty much exactly what it is, so Imani doesn’t even try.

Speaking of Zala from earlier, it is in this issue that Mary finally meets her. The double page spread that introduces her in full is absolutely gorgeous, with the sharp lines in many of the pages completely smoothed out to show off the character designs as if they were stand-alone paintings, rather than pieces of a larger comic book. Zala looks intimidating, not unlike Maleficent of Sleeping Beauty fame, and the gray eyes of Mary as she looks upon her are just as breathtaking. I do not know if Stjepan or Linda Sejic made these pages, but thank you for them, for showing just how beautiful the art of Top Cow can be.

Even with how intimidating she is, Zala is not without sources of amusement. She seems to forget that the fact that her name has been hidden from history, as she herself admits, means that a later bearer such as Mary would be extremely unlikely to have any idea who she is, to her chagrin. I am reminded of Maxwell Lord IV’s anger during the Brightest Day regarding loss of memory of Wonder Woman by the general populace. But I digress.

The talk with Zala shows me something else: apparently Mary’s ability to channel the power of other Witchblade users is unique to her. Is that her special skill set, like those of the others? If so, what was Zala’s? Magic only?

After some issues with getting Mary to accept her role as the new bearer, I was actually laughing out loud at her reasoning that led her to accept. She doesn’t care about cosmic balance, light versus dark, or any of that. She’s a teenager, and seemingly a geek besides. Why does she agree? Because she has an actual alien weapon! That’s the kind of thing many a science fiction fan would love to say, even if not to use it. That display of humanity and normality had me laughing for a large part of the day.

While I feel sorry for Mr. Stjepan Sejic’s injury that led to the delay of this issue, I wish him the best. I can’t wait until next issue!