REVIEW: 'Witchblood' #2 by Matthew Erman, Lisa Sterle, and Gab Contreras

 Chapter Two: Burnin' For You!

With Carlos burning, the injured witch Yonna has taken off into the wild deserts of West Texas. Meanwhile, Paxton LaBelle and The Hounds of Love ride to New Madrid in victory, following divination magic to their next target.

Witchblood #2

Written by Matthew Erman
Art by Lisa Sterle
Colored by Gab Contreras
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Design by Tim Daniel
Publisher: Vault Comics
Release Date: April 28, 2021
Cover Price: $3.99

Score: 

★★★★ (4/5)

"Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee

It gets hotter than a hoochie coochie

We laid rubber on the Georgia asphalt

We got a little crazy but we never got caught"

 - Alan Jackson, "Chattahoochee"

 A month after bursting onto the comic book scene, 'Witchblood' #2 picks up where the barn-burner of a debut left off. The candy-colored punk rock witches versus fashion-forward vampires in the modern American West is the psychedelic comic from Matthew Erman, Lisa Sterle, and Gab Contreras. 

Yonna is near death but ends up at the doorstep of Liana of the Soul, a witch with special botanical powers, living unassumingly in a trailer park. A "hippie" to the locals for her out-of-this-world "herbs," she nurses Yonna back to health. Meanwhile, Paxton LaBelle and his Hounds of Love continue their reign of terror across Texas as they land in New Madrid looking for a divination witch in hopes to find the powerful witch queen, Esme. Who knew issue two would be a showcase for Paxton LaBelle and Alan Jackson?

'Witchblood' #1 introduced us to Yonna and Paxton's gang in an engaging whirlwind of color and attitude. That carefree tone of Yonna endures to a fault and the reckless murder spree of the Hounds is bloodier than ever. As much as issue one was a wild carousel of fun and magic, issue two ups the stakes, ramps up the danger, and takes a darker turn. Imagine Quentin Tarantino on acid, issue two is what he'd probably describe, bloodthirsty vampires, killing mortals while "Chattahoochee" blares from the jukebox. The Hounds mean business. 

Yonna has been a disaffected witch for about a thousand years. Her rebellious persona from the first issue and her willingness to grift and steal to get by had a bad girl vibe that was kind of endearing. In issue two, her laissez-faire attitude turns out to be more cynical and selfish. Her indifference to everything jeopardizes her coven yet she's content to go her own way despite everything Liana had done for her. Luckily, she's forced to face this impending threat whether she wants to or not. Hopefully, her character arc will include some sort of redemption or change of heart. 

The ultimate collaboration between writer and artists is when they're all on the same page and having fun. Sure, Erman and Sterle are married, so you would expect them to have chemistry, but Contreras adds a glitter bomb to all the shenanigans. She gives the series a kaleidoscopic range of colors that explode on the page. When Paxton and his gang battle Amaya the Daystar, the vivid contrast of colors of fire and ice, good and evil, envelope the pages bleeding from panel to panel. It's a cornucopia of awesomeness on your face.

Paxton LaBelle is not just a detestable villain but one who revels in being so evil. He's corny, flamboyant, and full of himself. He's a bit of a showman even reciting a speech his crew has heard a million times yet likes the accompaniment of a Western tune. Erman's established Paxton as a legitimate threat to Yonna, to Esme, and it's clear he's not to be underestimated. He's also stealing the show. 

'Witchblood' is a blood-soaked bag of Skittles laced with LSD. With the strangely monikered Hounds of Love killing their way across the West and our reluctant anti-heroine riding away from the danger, things are getting weirder. Paxton just might be the best villain in comics right now. Sorry, Joker. 'Witchblood' continues to be a blast, one pretty and bloody joyride through Hell aka Texas. 

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