Comic author Ron Marz has done something quite interesting with his latest series for Top Cow “Magdalena”. Marz has taken the oldest story in the world, good versus evil, coupled it with another old story of Heaven versus Hell and yet managed to put a fascinating twist on it that raises this title above a few of the clichés sprinkled about in it. Where Marz steps up with Magdalena is by turning religion on its ear.
Magdalena is not a name but rather a title for a bloodline steeped in the story of Christ. In the series Christ did die on the cross and Mary Magdalene did weep at his feet however she was also pregnant with Christ’s daughter. Starting with that child and on down through modern time the daughter of Christ has been endowed with special powers as well as the Spear Of Destiny and used by the church as a weapon against evil. The latest Magdalena is named Patience and she has proven not only to be the most powerful in the bloodline but also the first rebel in the lot. Patience has turned her back on the church and her responsibility to them.
Here are where the few clichés bubble to the surface such as the most-powerful-most-rebellious-solider angle or the Obi Wan Kenobi/Luke Skywalker type relationship between Patience and her former trainer Kristof who is benevolent to the church yet dedicated to his pupil. Along comes a threat of the end of the world and suddenly the church for a job she refuses at first needs Patience. The anti-heroine, a classic story telling tool that is largely overused.
It’s the power of Marz’s writing and the unique idea backing Magdalena that allows this series to not fall into the trap of yet another story involving these types of characters. The relationship between Kristof and Patience is very real, her need to not be viewed as a disposable weapon feels true and even the pissy Roman Church at least has a point this time. I’m not a believer in any organized religion but as a writer I find it lazy when other writers instantly vilify religious orders to pray on this new wave of public anti-religion. Marz doesn’t do that here, instead he makes them rustic and too set in their ways, even harsh but never simple villains.
Marz also manages to keep a really great pace with Magdalena especially given how much straight exposition is involved. The art by Nelson Blake II is spectacular when it comes to action. Blake knows how to make a fight leap off the page and how to give Patience a real living breathing grace when she’s at war.
This is a really great kick off issue for Magdalena as well as great comic for aspiring writers to check out. Marz proves you can take a well-worn story, completely re-tool it and make it your own.