Borne Again marks the return of writer Ron Marz to Topcow’s Witchblade.
Marz wrote previously Witchblade from issue #79 to issue#150 and in that time the writer completely changed the perception of the title, gaining critical acclaim with main character Sara Pezzini becoming a fully fleshed character rather than just pin up fodder who fights monsters.
A lot has changed in Sara’s world as it’s revealed that Pezzini gave up her life of an enforcer of the balance and wielder of the Witchblade. Moving from Chicago to Upstate New York, Pezzini is now a small town sheriff. The quiet life isn’t as quiet as Pezzini hoped though as a string of bizarre murders have occured and Sarah faces the ultimatum of deciding whether to embrace the Witchblade again to face the killer in their midst.
The opening page of Borne Again pretty much sells it, a full page image featuring a bemused pair from the Sheriff’s Department looking up at a body obscured to the reader, the only dialogue being “So…..where’s the head?”.
Not only is this a great opening shot of what the story is all about, it’s a great example of Laura Braga’s art. Often full page images or splash pages are a messy affair, however this is the complete opposite being a brilliant example of image composition. Braga works in a background, various emergency response vehicles set against the backdrop of the woods, middleground, the two members of the Sheriff’s department looking at the body, and foreground, two trees that the body is is displayed in front of. The trees also act as a framing device for everything directing the readers eye to the centre of the image.
Marz’s Witchblade finds the balance between the police or in this case sheriff drama, small town drama and the otherwordly elements and it blends them in an impressive manner. Pezzini finds herself dealing with a petty chauvinistic Mayor who doesn’t appreciate her feisty attitude and blames her for the recent brutal murders, she has a good partner in Kate though who is also sick of living in a town full of brain dead hicks. The story also features flashbacks to Pezzini’s past which explain her current situation, and feature appearances from other characters like The Magdalena and Tom Judge.
The theme underscoring Borne Again is you can’t escape your past no matter how hard you try and it’s something that Pezzini learns in a rather brutal manner. Marz’s Witchblade is a great example of blending character drama and fantastical action.
Laura Braga’s art whilst completely different to Stjepan Sejic ,an artist synonymous with the title, is a good fit. Braga deftly handles the numerous different elements well from Pezini knocking back shots in a dive bar to detailed establishing shots of The Vatican and plenty of action too. Betsy Gonia’s deft colouring adds nuance too.
Marz keeps things from being impenetrable to the new reader but Borne Again also features a comprehensive breakdown of the somewhat convoluted backstory for Witchblade and its various characters, including other artifact wielders, which is ideal for new readers that might not be familiar certain aspects.
Witchblade continues to be one of the best non-superhero comics around with the team of Marz and Braga working well together.