[In honor of Bisexual Awareness Week]

I began re-reading Witchblade around the time when Ron Marz and Stjepan Sejic took over — as writer and artist, respectively — the series. At this time, Sara was pregnant and a new wielder in one Danielle Baptiste had been introduced.

I won’t lie, I had my concerns. A shakeup like this can easily go either way. If not handled properly, it can easily ruin a franchise. More than that, Sara is a tough act to follow, so “the new girl” would have to be on point. I’m proud to state that the storyline was a success, as is Danielle. While a complete contrast (she’s not the no-nonsense tough as nails New York cop that Sara is and doesn’t try to be), this affable ingenue possesses a champion’s heart and proves herself every bit the badass one would expect from a Witchblade wielder. Suffice it to say I was all too excited to see Danielle in her own spinoff series as the latest host of the Angelus.

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Volume 1 of The Angelus (which collects issues 1-6) finds Danielle in New Orleans and at a crossroads. She’s pondering what to do with her career, renewing a relationship with her father, and sorting out her feelings for Finch. All of this while acquiring a grasp on her newfound role as the host and keeping an eye on the Angelus followers, many of whom (led by the treacherous Sabine) are plotting Danielle’s destruction.

Many plot seeds planted in Witchblade lead to a nice payoff. Marz finds a nice balance with the action, drama and romance. In fact, perhaps what is most shocking for me is how respectful and well-handled Danielle’s burgeoning same-sex relationship with Finch is. Anyone who recalls coming out for the first time will definitely empathize with Danielle’s journey. The love scene between Danielle and Finch, for instance, is refreshingly intimate, sensual, artistic, and tasteful. And when it comes to comic characters who happen to be LGBTQ, that virtually never happens. Sejic’s signature art style  continues to to be breathtaking, surreal and complements Marz’s work beautifully just as it does in Witchblade.

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And for those wondering, worry not, the action gets brought, and Danielle proves her mettle as a heroine when she and the villainous Sabine go head to head. Keep an eye out for a cameoing Jackie Estacado, aka The Darkness.

I won’t lie, I wouldn’t have expected such a progressive series from Top Cow, but this is one of the times I’m proud to stand corrected. Having an LGBTQ headline her own series says something. Having an LGBTQ headline her own series that’s handled with the care and respect is saying a lot.

The Angelus Volume 1 is still in print and available, and I for one can’t recommend it enough.

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