Magdalena #1

At C2E2 earlier this year, I had a lovely conversation with friend Ron Marz about copyright violation and policies. As we were wrapping up, he started giving me guff for thinking the wrong things about the company he did most of his writing for these days. Like many, I had the impression that Top Cow sold comics exclusively based on exaggerated images of half-naked women.

Magdalena #1, C2E2 variant cover

Magdalena #1, C2E2 variant cover

Ron handed me a copy of the title just relaunching at that show, Magdalena #1, which I promised to read. And he was right — this particular comic is not based on exploiting women visually. The hero has a body-covering costume that isn’t particularly ridiculous, and the art is not drawn to pose her outside of what the story needs.

The Magdalena is a Slayer-like role that has descended through generations of women, all the way back to Jesus’s daughter with Mary Magdalene. One at a time they become “the Church’s instrument of justice”, wielding the Spear of Destiny against evil. The current title holder, Patience, has broken with the church (presumably for reasons explained in one of the previous title runs), so they want to kill her so they can put a more pliable girl into the role. Meanwhile, they’re gearing up to fight the Son of Satan, an Omen-like little boy descended from the devil.

I was disappointed that so much of this first issue explained this history in detail, as various characters talked to each other a lot. Many of the elements are familiar or reminiscent of other stories, so even though this is a first issue, I didn’t need the hand-holding, and I would have rather seen more of Patience in action, instead of having so many people talk about her. The only action scene happens during a short flashback, four pages of demon fighting as a guy narrates how special Patience is.

Artistically, Kady Mae has made the case better than I can, with images from the comic illustrating how the artist hasn’t gone for the salacious. Instead, the pictures have the feel of a movie thriller, especially in the scenes of Patience emerging from the waves when Kristof comes to meet her.

While I appreciated the chance to check out the comic, I haven’t been converted to following the title. As I said, this all feels familiar, and I didn’t get enough sense of Patience as a three-dimensional character. I wanted to know more about why she made the choices she did and why; instead of getting inside her head or learning more about her motivations, she’s shown mostly as someone other people are fighting over or chasing after. She’s talked about a lot, but how does she feel about it all? What were her emotions or thoughts when fighting the demons?

Yet Magdalena #1 certainly isn’t what I expected (and feared) from Top Cow, and I’d recommend anyone interested check out the second issue, which is also out.

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One Response to “Magdalena #1”

  1. Marc-Oliver Frisch Says:

    Sometimes, I wonder if a lot of American mainstream comics writers are consciously writing poorly because they know it’s going to make their target audience feel at home.

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