It has come to my attention that I have a bunch of drafts for posts about comics series sitting around cluttering up my to-do box. Thusly, I have decided to combine them into one massive post which will feature all of my favorites briefly and will probably end up being longer than my ridiculously long post about The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.
My secret shame first– Witchblade. Top Cow’s flagship series has been running since 1995 and is one of those series which features a main character who is an impossibly thin, hot woman who, in addition to being liberated and independent, spends an improbable amount of time near-naked. The plot is nothing special, a great concept confusingly carried out with the occasional added complaint of redundancy. It’s something you read and like despite knowing that you shouldn’t, like Twilight (okay, well, let’s not get crazy; it isn’t that bad). There’s a little bit of police procedural, a little bit of history of the Witchblade, a lot of conspiracy, a ton of irrational mood swings on the part of Sara Pezzini, the lead… and a lot of Sara being naked and having the Witchblade (barely) cover her moneymaking parts for her. Way to stay classy, Top Cow.
After shelling out sixty bucks for the compendium of the first fifty issues, I can tell you that nowhere in there does Sara get any real answers about what the Witchblade is or what it wants. Every time she seems to gain a modicum of control over her sentient weapon, that disappears a few pages later with no explanation. And whenever she kills a bad guy they seem to come back to life with no explanation somewhere down the line. Oh yes, and every couple of issues there will
be an apocalypse to avert.
All in all, it’s confusing and goes on for at least fifty issues (all that I’ve read) without revealing a damned thing about what’s going on. On the other hand, the art is very pretty– and by that I mean all of it, not just the scantily-clad women –and the story is tolerable in small doses. If you want to try it out, I would recommend not buying the compendium, because no one could ever need as much Witchblade as I now have. Try one of the trade paperbacks that collects five or six issues and see where that takes you. A note, though: for reasons I cannot fathom, the TPB Top Cow markets as Witchblade Volume One: Witch Hunt actually collects issues #80-85 and isn’t about a witch hunt. If you want to start right from the beginning you’ll need to go looking for Witchblade Origins Volume One: Genesis. Witchblade has also inspired a mediocre (or so I hear) television series which ran in 2001, a manga, an anime, and a soon-to-be-released movie. Megan Fox is rumored to be playing Pezzini, which I think about sums up Witchblade.
On to Batgirl! This is just about the opposite of Witchblade, as Batgirl is able to kick bad-guy butt without shedding her garments. When she does end up with a ripped costume, it’s in places that show her attacker was going after her vital organs with that knife, not
her chest. Imagine. I want to be clear here: the Batgirl I am discussing is the second one, or possibly the third if you count Huntress(?) I’ll leave figuring out continuity in comics to the quantum physicists and suffice to say that this Batgirl is Cassandra Cain. The original Batgirl and current Oracle is her mentor and something of a mother figure, and a very interesting character in her own right, but not the one under discussion. So.
Batgirl is a relatively short series, comprised of only six TPBs (Silent Running, A Knight Alone, Death Wish, Fists of Fury, Kicking Assassins, and Destruction’s Daughter), but the story itself spills over into other comics runs such as No Man’s Land and Robin/Batgirl: Fresh Blood (which fills some of the space between Fists and Assassins). Cassandra is a unique and riveting character due primarily to her childhood, in which she was trained as one of the world’s finest assassins, but was never taught to read or even to speak. In addition to the hardships these lacks bring, she struggles internally over her role in the world: her father trained her as a killer, but she longs to atone for that by helping Batman in his quest for justice.
My main complaint in the case of Batgirl would be the gaps in the story which are filled by separate arcs not included in the TPBs, which I think is a common problem for we who haven’t picked up the knack for following the scattered storylines of comics. I was also deeply dissatisfied with the way Destruction’s Daughter concluded Cassandra’s story, but this is again an example of my comics illiteracy– apparently Cassandra’s story has continued in various separate series and miniseries since then, which I haven’t followed and can’t comment on. My final word on Batgirl, however, is that it’s a great series and I hold out hope for its continuation in any form. For those of you like me, who have trouble following characters across multiple comics, I would recommend Batman: No Man’s Land by Greg Rucka, which is a novelization of the entire No Man’s Land arc and provides a great introduction to Cassandra and the Batman universe in general.
More to come, including:
- White Tiger
- Rapunzel’s Revenge
- Pride of Baghdad
- Leave it to Chance