Wraithborn, simply put, is the story of an ordinary, shy teenage girl who mistakenly gets imbued with the power of the Wraithborn, the sole weapon against demons manifesting in the material world. Throughout the course of the book so far, this girl, Melanie Moore, is only just beginning to understand what is happening to her, and isn’t quite sure she even believes it yet!
I fell in love with this series from the word “go.” I knew I wanted to try it because of the art, but it was the story and the characters that hooked me. To say that the characters writer Marcia Chen crafted in this story are relatable would be an understatement and a disservice to what she really did with them. I felt like Melanie could be any number of people I’ve known in my life, including myself. She’s shy, she keeps to herself, she doesn’t have a lot of money, she takes care of her family… these are traits that fit so many people in the world today. Melanie is a smart and kind girl who does carry a lot of burdens. But she’s not bitter. Frustrated at times, sure, but she loves her father and she wants to make better of herself. At school, she’s practically invisible save for a handful of friends, or rather people she knows. In her mind, she’s nobody… until that night in the first issue.
The Wraithborn is a powerful weapon overseen by a brotherhood of guardians. This order trains up someone who can become the next to wield the Wraithborn when his time comes. It has always been that way, it was supposed to always be that way. But whether by chance, or by trickery, that doesn’t happen this time. Instead, Melanie encounters the current Wraithborn wielder and is given the weapon herself, but she doesn’t remember any of it. What happens from that point is the breaking down of her psyche, in a way, to make way for a rebirth of sorts that, as of issue #3, we have not reached yet. So Melanie starts to see things, but can’t process them. By issue #3, she is attacked by demon dogs – hellhounds – until the man who was supposed to wield the Wraithborn, Valin, shows up to save her. But she’s still not buying it. Those were just some rabid dogs, everything’s okay.
In the meantime, there is this powerful force behind the scenes trying to manipulate these events, and could be the very cause of Melanie receiving the Wraithborn to begin with. And if what we’ve seen up to this point is any indication, this force is not one to be easily reckoned with! Powerful doesn’t begin to describe this other player on the field.
I mentioned the reason I checked this book out was because of the art, which I’ve yet to really touch on. The artist and co-creator of Wraithborn, is Joe Benitez, a long-time professional in the comics industry (The Darkness, Titans, G.I. Joe). Most recently, you may have seen his work on his other creation, Lady Mechanika. The art in that book is simply gorgeous, and that same masterful skill is present in Wraithborn as well. Clean, bold lines, incredible emotion depicted in the characters’ faces and eyes, crazy attention to detail (like a shop owner holding up an issue of Lady Mechanika!), inspired panel layouts, and the list goes on. The story will hook you, but this beautiful art is all you need to see to pull you in. And it’s not just pretty to look at. If you note the way Melanie is drawn, shoulders drooping to depict an unsurety, and little touches like that. It really speaks of the artist conveying a tone and mood to each and every character, place, and panel.
Wraithborn was originally published by DC Comics, but I missed it then. This version, dubbed “Redux” features new and edited scenes, making it somewhat of a director’s cut. So even if you’ve read it before, there is something here for you to enhance your experience of it. If you haven’t, then you definitely should, because it really is a fantastic series.
I’ve stated a couple of times now that THIS book is what I wish Switch was from Top Cow. If you’re unfamiliar with Switch, it’s the new Witchblade series featuring a teenage girl who unwittingly became the new wielder of the Witchblade. That’s truly where the similarities end (and note, Wraithborn technically came out first!). That is not said to disparage Switch in the slightest, I just prefer the story being told in Wraithborn. And upon looking up writer Marcia Chen, I understand why she got it so right. She has written several titles for Top Cow, including Witchblade! She knows this genre, and she knows her stuff.
If you are looking for a professional quality title from the independent market, and you’re looking for something a little different, you need to give Wraithborn a try. I know you won’t regret it. I sure didn’t! And I’m on the edge of my seat anticipating the next issue!
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