Words with Azrael [JUN '06.... pt.2]

Az is back with the exciting second part of my review for June, finishing off with the "other" companies of Image, under Top Cow. (Actually, it's the other way around but whatever... you get the point.)

Today, I review Witchblade #97-98 and Cyberforce #1-3.


Cyberforce #1Cyberforce #2Cyberforce #3
Cyberforce #1-3

Cyberforce #1 -- OK, a little catching up is required as this is a continuation of the first series. That series ended on a rather sour note, with the team basically being "Disassembled"... I kid you not. Heatwave and Riplaw died, Impact left, and the girls were left on their own. However, Ripclaw didn't die but was resurrected into some evil version and has been hunting them down ever since.

The names to know:

Ripclaw -- man with claws like living metal... Native American shaman, but is there any other?
Cyblade -- she can create electrostatic blades on her hands. Melee expert and leader.
Ballistic -- gun girl with red mechanical eye
Velocity -- the speedster with a death white skin tone and Ballistic's sister
Heatwave -- A man's man leader type with fire coming off his hands
Impact -- the brick... the strong man... big... muscles... strong

Now we come to the now, but in some distant galaxy as a fleet of alien ships destroy a space station. Yeah, this is a subtle sub-plot but it's important to know/recall that the original team of Cyberforce used DNA... ALIEN DNA to give them their powers. Yup... aliens... spaceships.... getting the hint?

Back to Earth and the girls are having dinner and reminiscing on the past. It's really a trap to lure Ripclaw but Velocity doesn't like it. She had the hots for him.

The baddie shows up and he kicks all of their rumps (with Cyblade in a new costume) and is about to have his way with Velocity when he gets gutted by.... RIPCLAW!?!?!

Cyberforce #2 -- It's clone vs clone and no girls are invited. Ripclaw's clone... the evil one, is a lot tougher than he looks and gets all funky and beats down the good Ripclaw. A well-placed grenade and the bad guy.... and the mansion, goes boom. I know... I hate that gag. The good Ripclaw tells the girls about how he came to be and also that the aliens their DNA is based off of are coming to Earth to kill them. ...and the hits just keep on coming.

Cyberforce #3 -- The aliens have arrived on Earth and destroy some jets unlucky to be in their way. Elsewhere, the team head to a safehouse (their old base was blown up with their first series) and find someone has fixed it up. Fighting some robots they run into another formerly-dead guy, Heatwave. Apparently, he got the same treatment as Ripclaw and knows about the alien threat coming -- hence the upgraded safehouse. They take off to look for their missing teammate Impact but run into some pesky aliens!

Very quick paced, with a clear sense of comaraderie among the different personalities. I like it, and can't wait for more.

-ART- 4/5 (Pat Lee does nice work and he manages to keep the details from cluttering the scene)
-STORY- 3/5 (Action-packed and quick though a little short for my tastes)
-TOTAL- 3/5 (The series doesn't require any backtracking but the whole alien DNA aspect is pretty muddy if you don't. The team also comes off as a X-Men clone (no pun intended) right down to the "Blackbird" flying out of the cliff in #3.


Witchblade #97Witchblade #98

Witchblade #97 -- Well, for those who know nothing about Witchblade... you're jumping in at a really weird point. The big 100th issue is a-coming and so sub-plots have been working overtime so they can justify the amped up cover price. (Yeah, you THINK I'm joking!) In short, Sarah Pezzini is a NYC detective who found a weird bracelet that is really a living weapon that she can control.

Her first partner was killed, the second is in a coma and her new partner really isn't as he is some "liaison" from a special prosecutor's office. Anyway, he's got the hots for Sarah, but apparently so do half of the men that appear in the series. I can't blame them, but... the way the art is, you'd think there were no "ugly" people in NYC... tee hee!

The book starts off with Patrick Gleason (the dude who wants to jump Sarah's bones with his bone) and Sara on a "date" though it looked more like a casual meeting of peers -- whatever. The next thing you know, Sarah's ex-infatuation Ian Nottingham pulls a Kool-Aid Man gag and crashes through the window. Playful banter ensues as Japanese assassins soon arrive. Everyone does some kung-fu fighting but clearly, thugs and goons are no match for Ian, Sara, and Patrick.

The three return to Sara's and Patrick gets the "old boyfriend" vibe and gets lost. Ian and Sarah play catch-up, though she puts up a strong front. Ian wants her help against the splinter faction of the Yakuza trying to kill him. Sarah doesn't bite and blows him off. Ian leaves and finds the antique shop (a very interesting place back in #92) and steals a rare katana. Meanwhile, we see Nogawa -- the boss of the Yakuza faction in his naked tattooed ass glory.

Witchblade #98 -- Ian shows why he should be cast for the next Highlander movie as he kills a lot of men with just a sword. They have guns but... yeah... only in comics, anime and videogames would that lose. Sarah follows Ian and covers his back as he goes and kills Nogawa. Sara then arrests Ian... and goes to make nice-nice with Patrick, only to get interrupted by a phone call.

Jake is out of his coma.

Ian is back... Patrick wants nookie but is too stupid to get it... and Sarah monologues more than a Stan Lee comic book from 1965. All in all, no big surprises here. This mini-arc is essentially filler for the 100th issue as NOTHING of real consequence happens... except Gleason and Sarah finally get on the same page after 10+ issues of trying.

Another thing I find strange in the series is Sarah' usage of the Witchblade pretty much anywhere now, in the open, in public, in full view of every Tom, Dick and Jane and.... nothing happens to her? All the people who do know, keep it a secret... or are dead. That's what separates Top Cow's universe from the other companies... costume types don't seem to be very common or even acknowledged by the public. If something weird happens.... ah well... it was nothing.


I bring this up because if a diner was attacked by Yakuza and some lady with metal tentacles coming out of her body was fighting them off, I think I'd call someone... wouldn't you?

-ART- 3/5 Mike Choi makes clean art, but I think he makes people look too young... or not rough enough. Ian looked like a punk. Gleason looked like a kid... made worse when he was sitting in the bar. Thugs looked like bullies from the sandbox. Sarah was the only one who looked decent but I think because she was always wearing a scowl... which translates into emotions. Everyone else looked a bit flat.
-STORY- 2/5 Really short. Nothing important happened. Ian showing up seemed a waste. Sarah seemed stupider than usual around men she is/was interested in sexually... I mean, aren't women immune to this schoolgirl type crap when they get older? I expected a seasoned veteran of the NYC PD detective division, especially after 90+ issues of shit rolling downhill... Ron Marz can do better.
-TOTAL- 3/5 A safe jump point for people trying to get into the series, but I hope #99 is better.


Next month, buckle up for another exciting double header as Az takes on Cyberforce #0, Witchblade #99, Ms. Marvel #4, Shadowpact #2 and the debut of Ghost Rider #1!!!!

BE THERE OR BE... somewhere else... (Sorry, I don't have a catchy outro yet...)


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