Written by: Tini Howard and Ryan Cady
Art by: Christian DiBari
Colourist: Mike Spicer
Lettering by: Troy Peteri
Cover by: Christian DiBari
Published by: Top Cow/Image Comics
March saw the exciting return of a Top Cow favourite to our shelves. Magdalena, a character who took her first breath in The Darkness series in the late 90’s, claims her rightful place on the rack after a five year hiatus.
Fans of Brian Holguin’s “The Magdalena” will be happy to hear Patience is a virtue, the third face of this character reprising her role in Tini Howard’s (The Skeptics) and Ryan Cady’s (The X-Files) bold opening narrative.
The basics have all stayed the same, characterisation borderline religious. The Magdalena is a woman descended from Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. A warrior charged with defending the church against demons and evil magic, she wields the Spear of Destiny, a lance that drew power as it slipped from where it pierced Christ’s side.
Even before we thumb open the first page, we know the writers are taking our favourite heroine in a bold new direction. Here Patience looks wounded, vulnerable, almost hunted across the cover by a group of fell-worshippers. The pallet we see here, a wash of blood-red and grey-green, is a staple of the entire first issue. Colourist Mike Spicer gives us a sort of dusk and dawn effect with these hues, a hint at the twilight of Patience’s power. After all, she fights well in the opening scene, but ultimately the Spear of Destiny fails her, her demon opponent taunting that faith in her church has waned. And with that, her power dwindles, leaving her wounded. We’re only a dozen panels in and our heroine is already on the ropes; it’s a brilliant way to open the series.
As Patience comes to grips with her injuries and wonders about her replacement, we’re introduced to Maya, an atheist trying to slip free of her mother’s religious embrace. The writers introduce the teenage girl well, tip-toeing around clichés, making the dialogue snappy and the comic skim fast form panel to panel. A few moments go heavy on the exposition, but overall the writing is sharp.
Pretty soon though, our villain emerges, crashing Patience and Maya together, setting the stage for the proverbial passing of the [spear] that the four-issue series promises. It’s an almost Logan-esque moment that’s worth a few coins on the countertop.
And if this issue promises anything, it’s a great harmony between artist Christian DiBari and the rest of the team. Gone are the glossy, lick-your-lips images of Magdalena we’ve seen before. Instead, DiBari scratches at the page, draws a world as grainy and as weary as the reality Patience wakes up to. It’s what makes this re-boot stand out for me. Change is good, change is hard. But I’m excited to see what’s in store next time for our heroines.