Witchblade by Caitlin Kittridge Vol. 1(Review)
Updated: Apr 18, 2020
Writer: Caitlin Kittredge
Artist: Roberta Ingranata
Colorist: Bryan Valenza
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Publisher: Image Comics
Alex Underwood is a victim's advocate in Witness Aid Services, but after the abusive cop husband of her client kills her, she is reborn through the power of a sentient Artifact called the Witchblade. The first issue starts off like a crime story with a more modern and “normal” Jessica Jones-esque character and this tone is fairly consistent even as it becomes more integrated with urban fantasy.
The story is less focused on why she was given this power and where it came from but more on how she uses it to continue helping victims and revealing police corruption. As it turns out, the cop that killed Alex and several of his buddies in the force are involved with demons.
This is where the story gets a little confusing, particularly in issue three, as it has several characters that are either possessed by different demons or have made deals with demons. It is hard to differentiate the different types of demons and creatures and whether other people can see or hear what is going on. The art is sleek and easy to follow up until this point but here it gets difficult as some of the male characters look similar with a chiseled jaw and black hair - it takes a moment to figure out if it is one of her friends or an enemy. These problems continue into issue four but by the end of the volume things clear up a bit and it ends on a high note.
Despite all of this crazy stuff that is now happening to her and this dark conspiracy she is uncovering, Alex is determined and levelheaded in a way that is believable and makes her a strong and likable character. This is where Kittredge really gets me hooked as there is an underlying theme of powerful and strong women, but it never feels overwhelming or forced. Her characterization of Alex as a woman who gets powers and continues to do what she was doing before to a greater extent has me invested. Like most heroes, Alex slowly develops a crew of friends who help her (think Buffy and the Scooby Gang) and by the end of the volume we get to see them interact more with Alex and each other. I am not as invested in their characters yet though, but I look forward to seeing their connection build.
After Alex is reborn, she starts thinking that she is going crazy and we are teased with bits of her past. While it is emphasized rather early on that Alex has mental health issues from traumatic experiences, they play up that she is seeing and hearing things again that is not really brought up again. Throughout the volume we do learn more about some of the trauma she went through, especially in issues five and six. It is almost excessive that all these events could happen to one woman, but it is just believable enough to give her character a lot of depth and emphasize her survival and want for justice before she connects with the Witchblade. Although there is a question of why the Witchblade has shown itself now, you do not question its choice of a vessel.
As someone who did not know anything about the previous Witchblade series by Marc Silvestri and its other media adaptations, Kittredge does a great job of bringing a new reader into this world without overwhelming them with past continuity. I definitely recommend this to anyone interested in strong female characters, urban fantasy, and crime.