Created by: Matthew Erman and Lisa Sterle
Colored by: Gab Contreras
Lettered by: Jim Campbell
Designed by: Tim Daniel
Published by: Vault Comics
This review contains mild spoilers for Witchblood #2 and serious spoilers for Witchblood #1, which you’ve had, like, a whole month to read.
In the first issue of Witchblood, we were introduced to Yonna D’arc, the Ramblin’ Rose ridin’ sensualist who (truth be told) is more interested in watching after her own interests than getting involved in anything of a noble fashion. We got a chance to see how Yonna’s magic worked, and see her take part in an almost-self-contained adventure.
But while Yonna may have been behind the wheel in the first issue, she’s more or less moved to the sidecar for the sophomore issue. This works well, allowing supporting characters – especially the villainous Paxton Labelle – to step forward and have their moment in the spotlight. The result is a second chapter that expands the scope of the world while maintaining the tire-melting pace of the first, representing the efforts of an entire creative team operating on all cylinders.
Burning for You: Witchblood in second gear
The action begins right where the last issue left off, with Yonna barely keeping it together after her first encounter with the Hounds of Love. With Yonna incapacitated, the stage is set for two other characters to occupy the spotlight: Liana and Labelle.
Readers are introduced to Liana, one of Yonna’s estranged associate witches, on the very first page of the issue. This plays off in multiple ways, but they mostly boil down to this: Liana is a different “type” of witch than Yonna. She lives a different type of life (hidden as a herbalist but in symbiosis with the unsuspecting mortals of the Mahopi Trailer Reserve) and she projects a very different vibe (as we see her caring for a mandrake in a quiet moment – and it’s difficult to imagine Yonna having a quiet moment).
Naturally, seeing more witches designed by Lisa Sterle, the visionary behind the Modern Witch Tarot Deck is a delight. But the real treat arrives when we get to see the form Liana’s magic takes – and I don’t just mean the psilocybin and LSD she dispenses to the locals of the Mahopi Trailer Reserve. Just like we got to see the unique magic system that Yonna uses in Witchblood #1, in Witchblood #2, we see how different witches conjure their spells in distinct, equally fascinating ways.
Chattahoochee and the Hounds of Love
But it isn’t just the protagonists who get their time to shine in Witchblood #2. While we were introduced to Labelle and the Hounds of Love in the first issue, in the sophomore issue, they get a chance to spread out on the road a little bit.
This leads to a 2-page spread that, quite frankly, outdoes itself. Set to “Chattahoochee” by Alan Jackson (a note to the reader urges them to cue up the song before turning the page and frankly, you’d be remiss not to jump on the opportunity), the nearly-perfectly-timed sequence lets Labelle chew up the scenery (not to mention some bar patrons).
While Matthew Erman’s work has frequently incorporated music – see also: Yonna’s spells in Witchblood #1; the playlists in the back of every issue of Terminal Punks; etc. – this scene is an incredible integration of music and comic, and one which you should really experience for yourself.
On the Road with Witchblood
Just like in issue 1, the colors by Gab Contreas in Witchblood #2 are spellbinding. While this may be most obvious in scenes with spells and sunsets, most books that feature so many scenes set at night are nowhere near this vibrant. Whether it’s the starry sky over the highway or the hazy light of a sleazy dive bar, every single page of this issue is gorgeous.
Plus, thanks to Jim Campbell’s impeccable lettering, there’s never any difficultly following the dialogue, with color-coded text differentiating between vampire and witch, along with different color schemes for different spellcasters.
While Witchblood #2 is a delight in and of itself, one of the biggest thrills comes on back cover, where the preview for the next issue is waiting like a sucker punch. It’s not immediately clear where Witchblood will be heading from here, but one thing’s for sure: I’ll be along for the ride (and frankly, I hope Yonna eventually gets that Gris-Gris Gumbo).
Witchblood #2 is currently available at your local comic shop.