Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Magdalena, Volume 1

            The legacy hero is definitely one of the most interesting concepts in comics.  The idea of a hero that can actually be several characters throughout time gives a greater sense of the importance of the hero, not to mention that it creates many more stories that can be told, in the past and the future.  And having a character whose legacy starts with Mary Magdalene is really taking this to a fully mythical level.
            Patience is the latest in the line of Magdalenas, a warrior for the Vatican who wields the Spear of Destiny.  She’s become disillusioned with the way the church works and seems about to give up her position, but she comes back to deal with an offspring of Satan, whose existence could end the world.  This sets her off on an adventure that takes her around Europe, fighting demons all the way.
            What I think is most effective about this first volume is the introduction to Patience.  Despite the fact that he could’ve brought in an entirely new Magdalena for a new series, Ron Marz chose to stick with a character who’s been around before. And yet, despite this being my first Magdalena comic, I never really felt lost with the continuity.  I’m sure there is continuity being used here, but it might as well have been the start of something entirely fresh and separate from everything.  It’s explained that she chose to distance herself from the church, and that’s really all the background you need for how the character is as she is when the book starts.  Oh, and she kicks demon ass.  Which she does.  There’s a demon an issue in here, and the dialogue is pretty well balanced with the action so that neither really gets left behind.
In fact, starting things in the middle of Patience’s career just makes me think of this book a very cinematic level.  In my mind, I kept favorably comparing it to movies like Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider, with a hero who’s been around and already saved the world a few times, and we’re just around for the next big adventure.  Part of this is helped with the travel that goes from the Vatican City to a castle in the Ukraine to the catacombs of Paris.  A good adventure story always has plenty of good adventure locations for the protagonist to visit and fight through, and this does.  In Paris, we even find out that the church and the evil cult have bases set up there.  I’m very much hoping that Patience will continue travelling the world in future story arcs, since it adds something that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I like very much.
            My biggest worry from this first arc is that the stakes may be too high.  I mean, you have the heroine trying to stop the son of Satan from ending the world.  This is a perfectly big conflict for a single work, and as a standalone book, this would be perfect.  But for the first part of an ongoing series, it’s almost too big.  You want to keep raising the stakes, not put it at the top from the start.  But maybe I’ll be proven wrong, and the next arc will be just as big.
            The trade paperback also has a handful of special features.  There’s a history of the Magdalena throughout the ages, in case you’re interested in the other characters that have had the title.  A few standard sketches, but nothing of note here (although I’ll admit I’m biased by reading Invincible’s excellent sketchbook sections in their trades).  There’s also an afterword by Ron Marz and, rather disappointingly, a cover gallery.  I hate cover galleries.  Covers are meant to be your introduction to the 24-ish pages you’re about to read, so why aren’t they by the issues inside the trade?  The worst part is that the back of the collection and Ron Marz’s afterword both make special note of the covers by Ryan Sook…and yet they’re stuck in the back.
            Overall, Volume 1 of Magdalena is a pretty fun adventure book.  It uses religion as its base, but it never gets caught up in the religious aspect, and instead just tells a good, action-packed story.  I don’t think it’s the greatest thing I’ve read, but I really enjoyed it.
            Special thanks to NetGalley and Top Cow for letting me review this book.

1 comment:

  1. I really liked your review and included a link to it in my own review post of this book. I also quoted your post in one of my comments as your review had better addressed this readers question.