Suffering from a fundamental lack of confidence after relentless demonic attacks and in the face of an impending Apocalypse, can Alex, the Witchblade hold it together long enough to avert disaster and reclaim Johnny?  Find out in our Major Spoilers review of Witchblade #16 from Top Cow.

Witchblade #16 ReviewWITCHBLADE #16

Writer:  Caitlin Kittredge
Artist: Roberta Ingranata
Colorist: Bryan Valenza & Beyond Colorlab
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Editor: Eric Stephenson
Publisher:  Top Cow
Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 30th, 2019

Previously in Witchblade:  Alex is exhausted and unsure of her control over the ancient Witchblade artifact ever since she came back through the portal.  Unwillingly allied against a demon named Naomi and aching to save Johnny from his fate, Alex now must face a demonic entity intent on calling down the Apocalypse on New York.

APOCALYPSE BLUES

Urban fantasy is a genre that has risen to prominence in recent decades.  Take a gritty city environment and people it with flawed heroes, demonic entities and other creatures of the night, and you have a potent mix that with careful handling, will be sure to entertain for book after book after book.

So it is no surprise then that renowned urban fantasy author Caitlin Kittredge was tapped to take on a revamped Witchblade series in 2017, because Witchblade #16 is as urban fantasy as you will get.  The angst ridden lead character, Alex, the gritty streets of Manhattan and the demonic and other magical entities stalking its streets are trope fodder for the genre, and all the better for it.

I mentioned before that with the right talent and constituent parts, urban fantasy can be a potent mix.  Well, what an exhilarating blend Witchblade 16 is!  Coupled with Roberta Ingranata’s art, Witchblade #16 is a twisty, intriguing tale of demons and blood magic, as Alex and her friends struggle their own inner demons while attempting to thwart the Apocalypse.

Alex, the Witchblade, has been suffering the effects of Artemis’s spell and three weeks of constant demonic attacks.  Unsure of herself, yet determined to do all she can to save Manhattan from a demonically inspired Armageddon, Alex must gather all her strength for the coming fight.

Roberta Ingranata’s art is a marvel.  Couple strong character design, with a feel for the urban environment, and a talent for depicting magic and magical creatures in all their raw, unfiltered horrors and you have an artist bringing their A game to this impressive issue.  I especially liked his striking character design, where each member of the large cast is distinctively drawn.  They feel like real people, regardless of their demonic heritage, which helps make the horrors being unleashed even more fearsome and terrifying.

A stellar line up of talent brings a taut tale of demonic warfare and the fight against utter darkness!
Kittredge’s writing is very strong in this issue.  We get Alex’s perspective from her internal monologues, as she openly confesses to her fears about whether she is strong enough to stop the machinations of the demon named Haley.  It is refreshing to see heroes questioning themselves – that human quality of doubt set against demonic arrogance brings to the story a whole new level of characterization.  Alex’s discovery of her willingness to die in service of protecting her city, whether it is by a demonic hand or the Witchblade using her up, is a sobering moment.  Self-doubt is a powerful thing – harnessed correctly, as with Alex, it can make us strive to do better, to be better and to place selfishness aside in the service of the greater good.  Indeed, as Kittredge, speaking through Haley, makes the point that – ‘Pointless defiance is so old.  Posturing is for muscleheads in capes and tights, you know?’  I’ve yet to see a better argument that the true heroes of comics are those who embrace their humanity, and not the fascistic impulse from gaining total power.

BOTTOM LINE:  COMPELLING

Some fantastic artwork and compelling writing make Witchblade #16 an essential stop along this story of Apocalypse and self-doubt.  Alex is a strong character plagued by doubt, but willing to do the right thing unto death.  The cast of characters Kittredge has assembled around her complement Alex, and bring a strong, diverse feel to the story.


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Witchblade #16

80%
80%
Compelling

Witchblade #16 is a great story that falters slightly at the end as the needs of the overall story force a cliffhanger on the narrative. That said, Alex’s characterization is a standout, and with Ingranata’s strong and beautiful artwork at play, Witchblade #16 is an essential purchase for fans not only of the series, but for those interested in complex female characters facing impossible odds.

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About Author

Romantic. Raconteur. Kangaroo rustler. Sadly, Rob is none of these. Rob has been a follower of genre since at least the mid-1970s. Book collector, Doctor Who fan, semi-retired podcaster, comic book shop counter jockey, writer (once!) in Doctor Who Magazine and with pretensions to writing fantasy and horror, Rob is the sort of fellow you can happily embrace while wondering why you're doing it. More of his maudlin thoughts can be found at his ill-tended blog https://robertmammone.wordpress.com/

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