Comics Review: Magdalena #1

Back in the 90s, when I was reading 20+ monthly comic book titles a month, plus Wizard magazine, there were only two comic book companies: DC and Marvel.  Then the unprecedented happened: some of the best and brightest comic creators broke away from the big 2 and started their own company.

And Image Comics was born!

Of course, Spawn was the big book that everyone flocked to.  Everyone knew it, raved about it, and hid it from their parents because it was bloody and all about demons, and we were church kids.  But the book was sooooo cool.  And then along came titles like Witchblade, The Darkness, Aphrodite IX…and The Magdalena.

Now, I’m a writer (I mean, duh!), but even before I started this web thing, I wrote fiction, even published a couple books.  Every once in awhile, I come across an idea so amazingly cool that I wish I had thought of it: The Knights of the Cross in the Dresden Files book series by Jim Butcher, the Jerusalem’s Undead Trilogy by Eric Wilson, and Image/Top Cow’s The Magdalena, created by Joe Benitez, David Wohl and Malachy Coney, to name a few.

The book is a lot of supernatural action and horror with a little Dan Brown thrown in for good effect.  The Magdalena is a title that is passed down from one kick-ass woman to another, each a blood descendant of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene, and a wielder of the Spear of Destiny…the Roman weapon used to pierce Christ’s side while he hung on the cross.  Legend says that the weapon was blessed by His blood and became the ultimate weapon against the evils that secretly inhabit the world.  She can heal and has the ability to see into the heart’s of men in order for them to repent of their sins.

The character has been around since the late 90s, popping up in several books like Witchblade, and even had her own series for a time.  Now, she’s back in a rebooted series.

As the story begins, we see Patience, the current Magdalena, infiltrating a demon-magdalena_01-1summoning cult and dispatching the robed figures before facing off with their demon lord.  The fight doesn’t exactly go as planned.  It turns out, Patience is losing her faith — not in God, but in herself and the church — and her powers are beginning to fail her.  She isn’t healing the way she normally does.

Still, she fights on, and as she confronts a demon in the middle of a diner, a young girl, Maya, watches nearby and decides she can’t just stand there.  As Patience is down, Maya grabs the Spear of Destiny, wielding it to questionable effect and mucking things up.  The Spear, however, responds to her in a way that it no longer does with Patience, which signals that she is also of the Magdalena bloodline, and now to be trained as Patience’s successor.

The new series comes from the writing team of Tini Howard & Ryan Cady, with art by Christian DiBari, and as far as I can tell, this new series is worthy of the mantle.  The art isn’t as stylized and sexy as the Marc Silvestri/Joe Benitez take on the character, opting instead for a darker, grainier, more subdued approach, which is more prevalent in modern comics.  It totally works for this title, and the character sketches at the end of the book feature some truly gruesome images.

I have a feeling this is one book to watch.  This premise is primed for a film adaptation, despite the fact that Hollywood can’t seem to get this type of movie right, but Magdalena could (and should) prove to be the exception.

The Magdalena #1 is out today wherever comics are sold.

 

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