This is it! We finally get to see how Sara dispatched The Darkness…along with a few other surprising revelations. Is it good?
Witchblade #181 (Top Cow Productions)
The story picks up right where the last one left off with Hope going full demon child. But right before things can get any worse, Jackie shows up. I was going to make a snarky remark here about awkward family reunions, but it’s too damn heartbreaking for that. Sara brings up what a sweet and happy little girl Hope used to be. Jackie counters by reminding Sara how she made the choice to kill Hope.
It’s information that anyone current on the Top Cow universe would be aware of, but Gabriel Rearte does an excellent job mirroring their respective statements with well rendered flashback panels.
After the Kill Bill-esque parent meeting wraps up, Hope is sent with Jenny upstairs while Mom and Dad fight for the fate of the universe. Unfortunately, the battle itself is kind of a letdown. After a few really good panels of action, Aram waltzes through the door and gives Sara a magic sword (which Jackie doesn’t even seem to notice). Now to be fair, this sword was shown in the previous issue, but still…
Anyway, we get a few more cool panels of mystical fisticuffs before Jackie is incapacitated and decapitated by Sara, all while Hope watches from the top of the stairs. Right here is where things get good/creepy again. Sara is in shock, not even remembering how or when she killed Hope’s darkness kittens (which need to be made into action figures immediately).
In the foreground is a collection of their hairballs.
At this point, we’re back up to speed with the opening of last issue (Sara speaking to Jackie’s disembodied head). To her horror, the head speaks back in the voice of the Darkness, promising to find a new host.
That’s when Aram shows up (again), casts an ancient spell, and rids the world of the Darkness forever. The issue ends with Sara being assured by Aram that he will make sure Hope is okay. He also reminds her that the little girl demon girl upstairs is not her daughter.
As Sara walks away, Hope and Jenny express their desire to have vengeance upon the woman who killed the patriarch of their family. Aram assures her that he will be able to with that.
Is It Good?
If you were hoping for the fight between Sara and The Darkness to be one for the ages, then this issue was a huge disappointment. It’s a well-drawn/choreographed few panels, but when you combine its short duration with The Sword of Deus Ex Machina, the battle comes up far short of the hype that had been building for it.
On the other hand, the issue’s opening and ending are fantastic, especially from a standpoint of what the future holds for Sara and the Witchblade. For starters, the pages with Sara and Jackie are incredibly tense, made all the more chilling by Hope’s presence and reaction to what she sees happening.
The conclusion also gives us the possibility of an incredible new villain(s) for Sara to face. Not only is Hope powerful, but she has some twistedly justified reasons for wanting to kill her original mother. If you remember reading Hope as the adorable little girl who used to make Sara so happy, then you know how emotionally devastating this could be for everyone involved.
Not to mention how mouthy she’s gotten in the last few years.
All that being said, however, I really do wish that the fight between Sara and Jackie (rather than just its results) had been more epic. Though to be honest, I’m not sure the final confrontation between them could ever have lived up to anyone’s expectations. In the end, readers who were anticipating a thrilling climactic battle (myself included) are instead treated to a decent scrap followed by a great setup for the dark days ahead.