June 26, 2017

Top Cow Reviews: Magdalena #3

Magdalena #3
Publisher: Top Cow
Writer: Tini Howard & Ryan Cady
Artist: Christian Dibari
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Cover: Christian Dibari

Top Cows current incarnation of The Magdalena is a bit of shift from the previous releases. In this iteration, the title character, embodied by the warrior known only as Patience, is charged with transferring her knowledge of the occult and considerable skills to the upstart Maya Dos Santos. The two are embroiled in an escalating contest of wills with demon summoner Weyer Blackwood. With their adversary’s true objective uncertain, the Magdalena and her apprentice fight to rid the streets of Anaheim of Blackwoods nefarious minions by night, while seeking respite and a touch of normalcy during the day. The bourgeoning alliance has proven rocky, and this issue alludes to a grave past error on the part of Maya, accidentally releasing a demon prince instead of exorcising it. The female protagonist trio is rounded out by quippy sidekick Shilpa, who shoulders the bulk of the pop culture references and comic relief.

The exposition and dialogue are well executed, showcasing Howard and Cady’s passion for the occult material and, most importantly, the characters. Maya’s interaction with her mother, concerned at the teen’s late hours and harried appearance, serves well to contrast the rapid- fire battle sequences. Along with Blackwood’s candid and narcissistic dialogue with his own personal demon and a brief brunch exchange between Patience and Shilpa, these touches inform the personalities we choose to invest in as readers. On the art side, Dibari relishes having the heroines rend his demonic creations asunder in dark, foreboding panels. My only consideration, despite the visceral quality to his combat, is that there is an inconsistency in the level of detail. No doubt his technique is driven by a thematic consequence, perhaps to heighted the reader’s unease at the sense of the unknown or undefined lurking in the shadows. The approach is ultimately hit or miss for me.

All in all, The Magdalena is an intriguing title centering on a coming of age story and the mentorship dynamic between two women. It seems Howard and Cady are concerned with character and narrative more so than statements or agendas, and real, relatable characters make for good books.

Christian Davenport



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