Thursday, April 22, 2010

Magdalena #1 review

Magdalena #1
Written by Ron Marz
Pencils by Nelson Blake II
Inks by Sal Regla
Colors by Dave McCaig
Letters by Troy Peteri
Published by Top Cow
Review by Lan Pitts

"I've given it all the thought I need to. I've accepted what I am. What my bloodline makes me. But I'm done being used by the Church. Magdalenas have been disposable commodities for centuries. That's NOT HOW I'm going to end up. Nothing is going to make me change my mind." Patience, the Magdalena

I went into this debut issue knowing little about the character and her history, besides some notion of Magdalena being a warrior nun. I know she's made appearances in other Top Cow titles, but other than that, I have very limited knowledge. So I went into this book without expectations, except for the expectation that Ron Marz rarely disappoints. If you're a fan of what he's got going on over in Top Cow's flagship title, Witchblade, you're in for a treat.

If, like me, you're not familiar with Magdalena and her background, no worries. The plot is pretty straightforward, and any backstory is explained through narrative, yet without slowing down the actual story. I got the gist and ran with it. Marz has handled not one, but three (now including Magdalena) titles that have strong, female leads that deal with supernatural forces since signing with Top Cow, so trust me when I say he's in top form. While Marz may have a common theme now with female characters with mystical weapons, each have their own voice, and the Magdalena of this generation, Patience, is no exception. There's a strong opening and it doesn't let up. You have Church politics, demonic brawls, a murder mystery and that's just first ten pages. You want your demon-hunting warrior woman doing what she does best? You got it. You want a set up with Patience and a kid Anti-Christ? You got it.

I am surprised Top Cow didn't pursue the usual route and do a sort of "Year One" take on the character. But after reading issue #1, I realized there wasn't really a need for that. Marz just picks up Patience in her own series as she is in current Top Cow continuity, which makes it easier to get to the action, which is wonderfully rendered by penciler Nelson Blake II. Blake captures the intensity of the fight scenes, and just as easily nails the "talking head" moments. The inking of Sal Regla (Ultimate Fantastic Four, Fathom) compliments Blake's style. Regla's inks aren't too heavy or overbearing, and give everything a clean, crisp look that is easy on the eye. On top of that, you've got Dave McCaig coloring his guts out and Ryan Sook on cover duty.

With other companies go from big events, to tie-ins, to more big events, it's refreshing to be able to enjoy a book without having to worry about buying back issues or confusing continuity. There's even a timeline of the women who have been called Magdalena in the past, which expands the world and I enjoyed a bit of each backstory. The issue is there from the get-go to enjoy, so if you've been wanting an accessible title, Magdalena #1 answers your prayers.


Zaius said...

I've waited to read this book for a long, long time: can't wait to read it - just my luck that the week it's published most of northern Europe gets grounded by a volcano!

Zaius said...

Nice review - thanks. Having now received and read my copy I've got to say I think you've hit the nail on the head with your comments - I thoroughly enjoyed the book, as I do with most titles within the Top Cow U. The artwork didn't connect with me when I first saw it online - the panels initially looked a little cold and lacking in detail in places - but on the printed page I thought they worked very well. Looking forward to the second issue.