Comic Book Review: The Magdalena #1
Debuting in the pages of “The Darkness” in 1998, Magdalena became a staple of the Top Cow universe for many years. Intended initially as a villain, the character became popular enough to grow past that. In 2011, the last issue of the character’s series was published but not forgotten. This week, Magdalena is back with a new look, new creative team and new wielder of the spear. “The Magdalena” #1 is a welcoming debut that is a perfect new start for new fans.
“The Magdalena” #1 introduces us to the world this series takes place in. Demons are real and the women charged to fight them wield a spear that supposedly stabbed Jesus Christ during the Crucifixion. These women are chosen by blood, as each one of them is said to be a decedent of Jesus. The current wielder, Patience, has come to the end of her time as the Magdalena and has found a reluctant successor in 19 year old Maya.
Rebooting characters can be a really tough task because you’ve got to please longtime fans and get the new fans in the door. Writers Tini Howard and Ryan Cady do a great job at introducing both Patience and Maya leaving us understanding both of them very well. They take the time to give each their own space, allowing the past and present to come together in a way that makes a ton of sense. Patience and Maya are very different women and Howard and Cady do a wonderful job giving them their own, distinct voices. While this is a darker story, there’s still something superheroic about it. This feels like the origin story of a mutant discovering their powers in “X-Men” and I’m eager to see how Maya develops over time. “The Magdalena” #1 also does this great thing where the dark, demonic stuff doesn’t feel so out of place in this world. Maya is obviously shocked by it there’s this creeping darkness throughout all her pages that doesn’t make a demon showing up feel ridiculous.
The best part of “The Magdalena” #1 is Christian DiBari’s art because it proves that growing up is possible. Top Cow’s Darkness universe wasn’t always the most progressive in terms of how women were drawn but with books like “Switch”, “Sunstone” and now “The Magdalena”, that’s changed. Sexy is great but objectification isn’t and DiBari comes in with a brand new aesthetic that feels so refreshing. Patience’s armor is functional and paired with the cape, this becomes a fantastic look. DiBari’s youthful, gothy design of Maya makes her look different from the ever growing group of young heroes cropping up in comics. DiBari’s action sequences move so well and he’s able to convey the kind of tension you need in a dark tale like this. His demons are excellently creepy and Patience’s fighting is drawn to really combat that in a believable way. Mike Spicer’s colors are fantastic as he comes in and really sets the right tone. He doesn’t go too dark and infuses reds and purples in a really fun way.
“The Magdalena” #1 is a great reboot and an example of how to reinvent a character properly. It’s fun, dark, action packed and very easy to jump into without any background. I’m very excited to see how the saga of this new Magdalena unfolds.