Publisher: Top Cow/Image
Writers: Tini Howard & Ryan Cady
Artist: Christian DiBari
Colors: Mike Spicer
Letters: Troy Peteri
Review by PeteR
Since the Dark Ages, the Church has armed one women of each generation with the Spear of Destiny. A relic said to have pierced Christ’s side at the crucifixion, and called her the Magdalena.
Legend claims that theirs is the blood divine-descendants of Jesus of Nazareth and the lost apostle, Mary Magdalene. With the blood of the Magdalene in their veins, and the blood of Christ as their weapon, they suffer no demon or beast to live.
But the power of faith is belief, and no really believes in demons anymore, do they?
The Magdalena character has previously appeared in both The Darkness and Witchblade comic series. There have also been a couple of previous Magdalena series (available at your local comic shop). The most recent woman to bear the title, Magdalena, is Patience. In the first issue of the current Magdalena series, she is wounded by a Duke of Hell and finds that he cursed her in such a way as to remove her powers. Patience realizes that she needs to find the young woman who will next assume the mantle of Magdalena and start to train her.
In Anaheim California, Patience finds 19 year old, Maya Dos Santos. Maya is a lapsed Catholic and inadvertently becomes embroiled with the machinations of local nightclub owner, Weyer Blackwood. Blackwood thought he had bound a lesser demon to him in order to increase his magical power and is creating old school, pestilence ridden mayhem throughout the city. Patience and Maya spend the first three issues of Magdalena defeating his lesser demons while Maya comes to grips with her powers.
Magdalena #4 is the final chapter of this story arc. It begins with Maya in jail after killing, in self-defense, a former nightclub bouncer who had been turned into a demon. For the first time in the series, Maya actually prays and asks for God’s help. She is released from prison (the best scene in the book) and along with her friend, Shilpa Prasad and Patience, embark to have the final confrontation with the big league, Duke of Hell, demon, Marchosias. Remember that minor demon Weyer Blackwood bonded himself to? Turns out it wasn’t so minor after all. Marchosias, as Weyer was performing the binding ritual saw an opportunity to escape to the physical world and shouldered the lesser demon aside and bonded with Blackwood. Blackwood, now realizing that the deal he thought he had made with the demon has been reneged on, also joins Patience and Maya. They all have the big magic battle scene. Bad demon is sent back to Hell and dangling plotlines are revealed to justify the next Magdalena series.
Writers Tini Howard (Magdalena: Seventh Sacrament, Shade the Changing Girl) and Ryan Cady (Witchblade, Artifacts) try really hard to rise above the core conceit (Buffy meets Hellblazer) of the series. For the most part they succeed. I, personally would have preferred a more nuanced transition of Maya’s reawakening faith. The character, Shilpra Prasad has all the best lines in the series. Shilpra is writing a college paper on religious cults and throughout the four issue series keeps absorbing the events around her as fodder for her thesis.
Artist Christian DiBari (The Warriors, The Wake, Enormous) style works well enough for this particular Magdalena series. I miss the days when Joe Sinnott or Terry Austin would add clear, distinctive lines that defined panels. I, personally am not a fan of the current, impressionistic art style. The use of scratchy representations of characters and expressions, rather than the older system that employed inkers to tighten up the art, is lost on me. This should not be seen as a critique of DiBari’s skills as much as a commentary on my own personal preferences.
Magdalena’s colors are provided by Mike Spicer, formerly of Wrath of the Eternal Warrior, Charmed, and Sons of Anarchy among other things. Although it makes sense after reading the last page, I found I was distracted by his insistence on portraying the character Weyer Blackwood in shades of light blue or purple.
Troy Peteri did the lettering for Magdalena #4. I particularly enjoyed how he and Mike Spicer teamed up to portray Patience’s internal thoughts.
Why you should buy this book? Earlier I mentioned that Magdalena is like a mixture of Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Hellblazer. Since I happen to like both of those, I enjoyed Magdalena. The series was well enough crafted that I went in search of the previous Magdalena series to learn more about Patience and her schism with the Church.
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