WITCHBLOOD, ISSUE #1
Writer: Matthew Erman
Artist: Lisa Sterle
Publisher: Vault Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A road trip involving a witch as she tries to escape vampires that want the means of her powers – witchblood.
Think Mad Max meets Underworld.
(This is an advance review with some things that may change by its release which as of now is March 31st, 2021.)
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
1,000-year-old witch, Yonna, her Raven Bhu, and her trusty motorcycle, Ramblin’ Rose, are in need of some cash for a little T-L-C. So what better way than robbing some humans? Well, that would be all nice and dandy if she hadn't been run off the road by a car. But, as luck would have it, that same driver is in the nearest town at the diner on her own mission.
Luck turns into panic as the town just got a bloody visit by a pack of nasty, bloodsucking vampires. Now whatever is a witch to do when these vampires are after the witchblood that empowers her? Go on a road trip with her two companions and recently (albeit not completely) fixed motorcycle is what a witch is to do!
Where Erman excels in Witchblood #1 is the characters and their dialogues. Each character has a unique voice while being entertaining in their own ways. Especially the main vampire, Labelle (although he seems to hate that name), and our main witch protagonist, Yonna, who will most likely be the break-out character.
Sterle's paneling is fresh and fun-to-read with her ability to mess around with panels. She is able to keep the story energetic by changing the panel sizes and shapes to make uncommon designs that not only feel lively, but easy-to-read.
I'm a logo fanatic. Give me a good logo, and I'll be fed for days. That said, Witchblood's logo is pretty fun. The font style is what you'd expect for matching the vibe of the story, yet the coolest feature is the tire mark. It may not be prominent, but the size and placement really make it pop adding more style.
Vault Comics has become well-known for having one of their variant covers being an homage to another comic of days past. Witchblood #1's version is that of Dazzler #1, from Marvel Comics, courtesy of Nathan Gooden. Yet, my favorite is Sterle's Tarot Card cover (seen above).
Yonna's character matches Sterle's design for her, with her being an amalgamation of influences yet also uniquely herself. This can be seen where she swaps between emotional states on the fly while having some interesting dialogue choices; mirroring her unique design that seems to be a hodgepodge of clothing items.
This fun/energetic embodiment translates to the few fights as well. I can't go much into this (spoilers), but the few action moments are fast-paced, fluid, keep you engaged, and keep the excitement up.
Then comes Contreras's colors which really bring the magic to Witchblood #1. When Yonna uses magic that hinders vision, Contreras's bright purples with white sparkles make the magic feel real and puts you under its spell.
Contreras's fantastic colors don't stop there, as even the more subtle moments have gorgeous "brighter" colors that juxtapose with the "Wild West" brown/yellow bringing the characters and environment to life.
Campbell always delivers high-quality letters and Witchblood is no exception. Instead of using the usual font style used in American Comics, Campbell uses what seems like the Eurocomic font.
Throughout the issue, Campbell makes you feel the sound effects when you read them. A fun example is his use of sound effects to add to mundane moments. At one point when Redacted looks pissed he adds a "MENACING" effect that amps up the scene.
There are other great moments where Campbell changes the font style/color/size/the bubble lines to help evoke emotions. On top of that, he gives the vampires their own font color, that being a darker shade of red and less clean bubble lines.
Memorable Quote: "I'm magic, you dumbass!" – Yonna. I feel like this applies to so many magic-based characters and I love that!
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
As fun and well-designed as the characters are, there isn't anything "calling" me to come back to the next issue. For the first issue of a new series, it doesn't stand out in a way that makes you lust for the next month's issue. Instead, it feels as if this might have worked better as a graphic novel.
Not much feels new, exciting, or limited to just this comic. Instead, it feels like an assortment of individual genre/media elements that are great and loved but just doesn't go much of anywhere in its introductory issue.
Erman mentions in an interview, "I think if you’ve ever wanted your Cowboy Bebop cut with the energy of Wild at Heart..." yet, this first issue doesn't embody those feelings. This could change, but the first issue should stand out and draw the reader's attention, making them want to read more ASAP while showcasing how the story will feel as it goes.
Witchblood #1 problems stem from a reoccurring roadblock that Vault Comics come across; some of their first issues can feel flat as an introduction to the world. Each creative team for Vault Comics is phenomenal, but so many of the first issues don't hit that dopamine that makes you want to come back. They all have interesting characters, amazing teams of talent, interesting worlds, and fantastic ideas, but with the last few first issues, nothing stands out enough to put on your pull (at least, for me).
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Witchblood #1 is an exceptionally fun read, primarily due to the exciting characters and incredible art. Between Erman's great writing, Sterle's fantastic design, high-energy paneling, Contreras's magical coloring, and Campbell's lettering, this introductory issue is entertaining, with room to improve with each consecutive issue.
If you enjoy witches, vampires, road trips, and fun characters, you'll find yourself enjoying this first issue.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Long Lost VOL. 1 by Matthew Erman, Lisa Sterle
Coffin Bound VOL. 1 by Dan Watters, Dani, Brad Simpson, Aditya Bidikar
Vamps by Elaine Lee, Will Simpson
If you like the art:
Submerged by Vita Ayala, Lisa Sterle, Stelladia, Rachel Deering
Finger Guns VOL 1 by Justin Richards, Val Halvorson, Rebecca Nalty, Taylor Esposito
Sabrina The Teenage (2019) VOL. 1 by Kelly Thompson, Veronica Fish, Andy Fish,
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Matthew Erman – Writer (@MatthewErman)
Dream Team: Collaborates frequently with Lisa Sterle, who happens to be his wife.
Has worked on three separate Licensed/Franchised comics: The Dark Crystal, Power Rangers, Care Bears
Multitalented: Worked as a digital marketing specialist for seven years.
Lisa Sterle – Artist (@lisa_sterle)
Created a Tarot Card set titled, Modern Witch Tarot Deck. P.S. It looks amazing
Describes her style as “marrying her two favorite themes: the beautiful and the grotesque,” this fits quite well.
Prolific: Though fairly new to the scene, she already has titles published by Vault, IDW, Archie, and Black Mask, with two monthly comics and a full graphic novel currently in development.
Gab Contreras – Colors (@GabContrerasR)
Outlander: From Lima, Peru
Works as a layout artist/letterer for Editora Vuk. Who is the Peruvian publisher of the editions in Spanish of multiple US comic books. Some being: “The Walking Dead”, “Locke & Key”, “Invincible”, “Hellboy” and “Star Wars”.
Jim Campbell – Letters (@CampbellLetters)
Has an awesome blog where he goes over some of his work, among other things
Twice-Eisner-nominated comic-book letterer
His Twitter Bio has, "NOT the 'Over The Garden Wall' guy" in it, and honestly, that's pretty damn funny
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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