The first issue of Matthew Erman and Lisa Sterle’s Witchblood introduces readers to Yonna, a witch on the road. After untold centuries of travel, she has come to expect certain courtesies from people, like not trying to run her over. Following an accident in the desert, Yonna wants only two things: repairs for her bike and revenge.
Yonna is immediately charming, showing a devil-may-care attitude that has not been tempered by her centuries wandering the earth. Erman’s dialogue is equal parts mysterious and hilarious, showing even an ancient being can let themselves be immature when it suits their purposes. There are a few standout moments in the issue where Yonna gets caught up in her own drama, in the best possible way. This includes a fun panel where Yonna waxes poetic about her immortal life as she is surrounded by glittery stars (a fantastic showcase for colorist Gab Contreras, who crushes all over this issue). Yonna is also shown to have a hilarious vengeful streak to her at times, which is illustrated in a gloriously cartoonish sequence where flames erupt in her eyes and in the surrounding area.
This book looks fantastic across the board, with Lisa Sterle’s illustrations and Gab Contreras’ colors making every panel pop. So much is communicated about these characters through their appearances and the way they carry themselves. Every single character has a sense of fashion and style that is to die for (no pun intended), and it makes them all compelling in different ways. Likewise, Yonna’s incredibly expressive face makes her immediately endearing and fun.
The brief action beats are also inventive and exciting, with all sorts of potions and weapons being tossed about with reckless abandon. The bright colors of Yonna’s various spells and the dark reds of the flames at the end of the book strike a tricky balance of whimsy and fear. Completing the “Wild West by way of glam rock” vibe are Contreras’ immaculate sunsets, which bathe the sky and the surrounding desert in lovely oranges and purples. There’s so much to see on every page, from small sideways glances to clever potion labels, and this issue feels like it will reward a second read.
Jim Campbell’s lettering is sensational, giving every little sound its own life and personality. Every squawk from Bhu the crow feels important, adding to the expressive qualities of Yonna’s constant companion. Bhu feels like a character in its own right, rather than just a device that allows Yonna to ramble out loud for the reader’s sake. There are other moments of brilliance from Campbell that made me laugh out loud, including a bit where the word “MENACING” flashes above the eyes of one character as they make their attack.
It’s not yet clear where these characters are going (or even quite where they’re coming from), but there is a lot of fun groundwork laid in this first issue. There’s a certain excitement that comes from being dropped right into this world without much explanation. There’s already a huge amount of history and lore being hinted at here by Erman’s script, and I can’t wait to see how this creative team explores the world they’ve created.
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