Title: The Magdalena, Volume 1
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: January 19, 2011
Genre: Graphic Novel
How I Got It: from NetGalley for review
Summary from book:The Magdalena has been the official protector and warrior of the Catholic Church for over two thousand years, sworn to defend the Faith with the Spear of Destiny against all manner of supernatural threats. However, Patience, the latest Magdalena, has seen through the hypocrisy of her masters and struck out on her own. When her old mentor comes to her with a mission to prevent Armageddon, will she be able to resist the call?
The Magdalena, a reoccurring guest star in the Witchblade series, finally got her own series in 2010. The history of the character and the role of The Magdalena has been revealed in other books, mini-series, and one shots, they do not need to be read in order to understand the current story line.
Mary Magdalen was married to Jesus and pregnant when he was crucified. She gave birth to a daughter and the bloodline of Christ survived a thousand years before being discovered by the Catholic Church. Their existence threatened the Church, but they were of a holy bloodline and had some cool powers. Instead of destroying them, the Church turned them into warrior nuns. (Yes, that sounds a bit silly, but bear with me.) The women would be trained to take on the mantle of The Magdalena when needed. Only one woman at a time can fill the position and she can only be replaced upon her death. While these women were powerful they had very short life spans as the church never really protected them but sent them out alone on the most dangerous of missions. Patience, the current Magdalena, ran away from the convent as a young woman. She had felt trapped by a destiny she never wanted. Her entire life was devoted to training and being a tool for the Church. Kristof, a Knight of Malta, is sent to find the runaway, bring her back, and train her. She trusts him, returns to the Church, and accepts the role of Magdalena. Unfortunately for those who know about and control The Magdalena, Patience is not content to be a tool, an unthinking servant, or cannon fodder. She accepts her destiny and her faith, she understands that she is needed to protect mankind; she doesn't accept that every aspect of her life needs to be controlled, that she's disposable, or that she should follow blindly where led. Past Magdalenas have been murdered for following the truths their gifts showed them instead of following the Church's orders. She breaks with the church again as she believes she should actually protect the world from evil instead of protecting the Church's place in the world.
The Magdalena, Volume 1 contains the first six issues of the new series. We see Kristof once again trying to get Patience to return to the church. They both understand that if she refuses, the church will have her killed an another female relative will take her place as The Magdalena. They have strong evidence that the Antichrist has been born and is being protected by a cult called Lucifer's Children. They need Patience to kill the boy before he comes into power. She agrees to investigate but refuses to kill the boy. She believes that they are both in similar situations, raised/brainwashed into accepting a life that they didn't want. As she gets closer to her target they are beset by demons and begin to suspect that their is a traitor in the Church who is helping the Children of Lucifer.
I have long associated Image Comics with great art, more adult story lines, and scantily clad kick-butt heroines. The Magdalena, Volume 1 gives us the first two and fully clothed heroine. Patience is secure in her faith and her abilities, but she does not trust her handlers in the Church. She constantly butts heads against their expectation to serve them and her need to actually do the right thing. Marz has created an action packed story that addresses the differences between faith, destiny, service, and sacrifice and blind obedience, control, slavery, and disposable lives. While the bad guys are starkly slimy and awful, our good guys, Patience and Kristof, are more complex and well rounded. So far I'm hooked and hope to learn more about the history of Patience's family.
The Magdalena, Volume 1 has an intriguing story and great art. If this sounds like a book you would enjoy, I don't think you'll be disappointed. The traditional western style of comic books (colors, actual backgrounds behind the characters, text boxes that provide additional information) make this an easier book to navigate for first time comic readers. (As opposed to the popular black and white manga style comics that might be difficult for first time readers to navigate.) The story reads quickly, has lots of action, and gives you situations and ideas to really think about. This is a good start to a new series and I look forward to reading more.