Categories
Television

Star Trek: Lower Decks Digs into its Characters in Season Two, Ep. 4 and 5

We’re now five episodes into Season Two of Lower Decks and have already been on so many wild adventures with our crew members. The first three episodes of the season were full to the brim with overt references and homages to past-Trek, which has been a real treat. I personally really appreciate how this show handles these moments. Lower Decks knows it’s a Star Trek show taking place in the same era as the height of 90’s Star Trek, and while it has tethers linking it to The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, it never relies entirely on nostalgia goggles to keep the audience interested. These references are mostly contextual for the time period the story takes place in, but have a very, “imagine being some random person living in New York when Loki attacked the Avengers” vibe to it. 

The charm of Lower Decks is they are truly just Nobodies in a world with huge, famous, legendary space explorers. While Boimler specifically has dreams of Starfleet grandeur, Tendi and Rutherford in particular seem to be content with their current assignment and find the Cerritos a perfectly fine ship to leave their mark on. On the other hand, Beckett Mariner’s past is only referenced in passing or vague one-off quips, she seems to have lived out many of the Starfleet dreams that occupy Boimler’s every waking thought. This is the start of the main thread running through both Episodes Four and Five; trust, confidence, and how it affects not only your relationship with yourself, but your relationships with others as well. 

The last three episodes in particular have been about character work, which I think was a very good decision for the writers to make this early in the season. They’re already established, we already love them, but we don’t actually know that much about them! Episode Three gave us a deep dive into ensign D’vana Tendi’s past and relationship to her Orion upbringing, while also giving us a quick peek into the ever-unfolding mystery that is Beckett Mariner. Episode Four was a boys episode that paired up Boimler and Rutherford and their intensely geeky bond over the seemingly tedious and mundane aspects of Starfleet life. Episode Five was both about Tendi and Rutherford’s friendship post-Rutherford’s reboot, and Boimler and Mariner’s friendship post-Boimler coming back to the Cerritos after leaving for Captain William Riker’s ship, the Titan at the end of Season One. Overall, I think it was actually a pretty good route to go, so as to not bloat the beginning of the new season with too many references and callbacks, and also slow down the pace a bit and really start letting the audiences know more about this ragtag group of Starfleet underdogs. 

SPOILERS FOR LOWER DECKS SEASON TWO EPISODES FOUR AND FIVE

The central story for Episode Four revolves around Boimler, Rutherford, and a rumor about Beckett Mariner being a Starfleet Black Ops agent. Mariner absolutely destroys Rutherford and Boimler in anbo-jyutsu and bruises not only their bodies, but their egos as well. The two men get caught up in a story from the mess hall bartender about Mariner being a Black Ops agent, and they immediately start anxiously overanalyzing everything they’ve ever seen or known about their friend. They spend time contemplating and arguing over whether or not Mariner could actually be this secret special agent, and even go so far as to look up her personal file in the ship’s database. 

Meanwhile, Tendi is tasked with a job from Dr. T’ana to ensure every crew member aboard the Cerritos that has been dodging their annual physicals is tracked down and had their check-up. This leaves Tendi feeling like maybe T’ana is starting to notice all of the hard work she’s been putting into her tasks in sickbay and a much-desired promotion could be in her future.

Rutherford and Boimler having A Real One trying to figure out if the rumor about Mariner is true leads them to become paranoid and genuinely afraid of the woman they once considered one of their closest friends. This, of course, leaves Mariner very confused because they of course do not at any point in time confront her directly or even imply they might know her big secret, for fear of falling victim to her potentially deadly alter-ego. The insecurities on both halves of the situation lead to a sense of distrust and anxiety, but is ultimately resolved with Mariner revealing that she is in fact the source of this rumor and they have nothing to worry about. 

Dr. T’ana and Tendi have a heart-to-heart about her needing to be more assertive, which then leads Tendi to all-but-bullying Dr. T’ana into getting her physical, which she has been regularly dodging out of a very illogical and misplaced fear. Every story conveyed in this episode is based on trust: trust in yourself and trust in your relationships. This ended up really nicely leading into Episode Five, where these themes are further explored with our lower decks crew.

Episode Five, when seen as a sort of continuation of episode four, ends up being quite touching. We are back to a familiar formula of Tendi and Rutherford being paired up and Mariner and Boimler being paired up. Tendi and Rutherford’s story revolves around something that was explored a bit in the first episode: their friendship and how it has changed since Rutherford essentially came back from the dead. 

Unsurprisingly, Tendi and Rutherford are Star Trek universe gunpla nerds: they are laser-focused on trying to complete a buildable scale model of the Cerritos. When Rutherford finds several incoherent notes left by himself from before, he gets immensely frustrated and spirals because he feels like he’s constantly in competition with himself. Tendi inevitably resolves the situation by helping Rutherford realize this, and that he isn’t fighting with his past self over trying to finish the model and losing, but in reality, they never finished it in the first place and used it entirely as an avoidance tactic so they could hang out uninterrupted. 

While Tendi and Rutherford are hashing out their issues and growth on the Cerritos, Mariner and Boimler are off-world to find a reportedly legendary Starfleet party that they were pointedly not invited to. After convincing Boimler to utilize the identity of his clone that is still aboard the Titan, Mariner jets them off to try and hunt down this elusive shindig in a very fun use of the Black Tie Infiltration trope

When Mariner’s usual chaos hijinks reveal that Boimler is not alone in how he feels like Mariner’s patsy, it culminates in them almost being arrested. This brings Boimler to a breaking point and we finally address the elephant in the room: Mariner feels like Boimler abandoned her when he transferred to the Titan. Mariner and Boimler tackle their insecurities within their friendship, their power dynamics, and the trust (and lack thereof) between the two of them. While they don’t quite attend the rager they were expecting, the pair find themselves at a local bar where they resolve their very deep trust issues with one another only to find out that the bar they’re in is a genuine piece of Starfleet history, much to Boimler’s delight. 

So far, Season Two has been really charming and I’m glad we’re finally getting some more background on each of the characters. This show has a lot of heart and it clearly loves its source material as much as any Trekkie possibly could. In writing this, I went to try and remember the name for anbo-jyustu only to realize that despite being a Star Trek lifer, for every reference and easter egg I notice, there are three or more I don’t! Lower Decks has been an unexpected delight and is potentially one of the all-time best Trek shows ever put to the screen. I have a lot of hope for this series and I genuinely look forward to a new episode every week. At the rate Season Two is going, we are sure to have a whole new rich lore to cut our teeth on for quite some time.

Footnote: shoutout to Lower Decks for utilizing the wonderful character actor Richard Kind in an absolutely perfect role for him. Recognized his voice immediately and could not have been more delighted at this reveal.

Categories
Television

Star Trek: Lower Decks Continues to Delight in “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris”

We’re only three episodes into the second season of Star Trek: Lower Decks, and it’s already aiming straight for my heart. Between Episode 2 being one long Darmok reference with a quick Kahless joke peppered in, and this episode being Voyager focused, Lower Decks truly knows how to harken back to the older star trek content just enough to ground the show and not too much that it’s an entirely referential show. So far, these first three episodes of Season 2 are some of the all time best Star Trek content. Yeah, that’s right, I SAID IT. this show is truly top tier Trek in every single way, and i absolutely adore it. Every week they seem to find a new way to, in business terms, “surprise and delight”. I’ve spent the last year or so telling each and every star trek friend i have to watch it. “I had reservations too,” I say, “but i promise it really is incredibly charming and sincere!” One day i will convince everyone. One. Day.

The A plot, B plot, and C plot in this episode are all stellar, and work together so well to give the audience great screen time for all four of our main lower decks crew members. I think the A plot really does a lot of incredible things that I was frankly a little bit worried about when I realized what was going on. Tendi and Mariner realize they have never had a mission that’s just the two of them and opt to have a “girl’s trip” of sorts running an errand for commander t’ana. Of course, what should be a simple fetch mission turns into wacky hijinks galore. Now it’s very obvious that this story happened because someone in the writer’s room was like “hey why haven’t mariner and tendi ever really had any significant character time together?”

Robert Duncan McNeill as Tom Paris in the Paramount+ series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS; episode: “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris” / Photo: PARAMOUNT+ ©2021 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved

While it could have easily come off as very pandering and hamfisted, the progression of their mission together and thus their friendship, was very organic and charming. I personally related to it a lot, especially from my days working in the gaming industry. So many times i would be friendly with female coworkers only to one day realize that actually, i didn’t really know anything about them at all despite seeing them and talking with them at length every day for several years. I think going more into Tendi’s backstory and life in particular was a really great choice. She’s always trying to “prove” herself because being an orion comes with a lot of stigma, and this episode gives us much more context on where specifically she’s coming from with that attitude, aside from the obvious surface level explanation.

The thing that truly got me excited for this season though, occurs in the b plot: TOM PARIS COMES TO THE CERRITOS! Boimler’s first big day back on the cerritos and Tom Paris is coming to visit! Boimler, in true boimler fashion, is nerding out over this and hoping to get his Voyager crew commemorative plate signed. Everyone rightfully clowns him for this because like, it’s truly the goofiest but most on brand thing ever. The problem is, Boimler’s been written out of the Cerritos’ system, so he spends the entire episode fighting the computers just trying to get through various doors or eat lunch in ten forward. Poor dear sweet Brad Boimler just truly has the absolute worst day in this episode. Serves him right for abandoning his friends, I say!

Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler in the Paramount+ series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS; episode: “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris”. / Photo: PARAMOUNT+ ©2021 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Lastly, the smallest and funniest subplots is what goes on with Rutherford while Boimler is having A Bad Day and Tendi and Mariner are on their “girl’s trip” away mission. Lieutenant Shax, who met his untimely demise at the end of season 1, is mysteriously back on the Cerritos. Given that Shax died saving rutherford, our beloved cyborg friend’s lack of knowledge around Shax’s sudden reappearance has him consumed with guilt and anxiety. The gag about “not ever questioning” how or why bridge crew ever comes back from the dead culminates in rutherford finally breaking down and asking Shax directly. The burly Bajoran takes a moment to warn Rutherford that having this knowledge will change him forever, and rutherford of course just wants answers. Pretty sure he won’t be questioning anything like that ever again. I’m fairly certain that guy just got like 3 new layers of trauma added from that interaction alone. 

Noel Wells as Ensign Tendi and Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner in the Paramount+ series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS; episode: “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris” / Photo: PARAMOUNT+ ©2021 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Overall, Season 2 has really hit the ground running, and is consistently getting better with every episode. Season 1 took me a few episodes to really warm up to, but Season 2 really started things off with one hit after another. If Season 2 keeps its stride, it will surely take a spot amongst the coveted “best seasons of Star Trek” crowd. 

Categories
Television

Star Trek: Lower Decks – Season Two, Ep. 1 “Strange Energies” Review

I’ve been a Star Trek fan for as long as I can remember. I spent most of my childhood watching reruns of The Next Generation as well as new episodes of Deep Space Nine and Voyager with my dad. Despite the fact my dad is the absolute least nerdy member of my immediate family, he is the big sci-fi buff and because of that my brother and I were satiated on a steady diet of all things Rodenberry, which in the 90s, was about as big as any sci-fi franchise could be. With that in mind, I was hesitant about Lower Decks. So much of it screamed red flags to me, and yet, here I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of Season Two. How exactly did I get here?

Suffice it to say, I quite enjoyed the Season Two premiere. Season one ended with some very huge moments for our motley crew of lower decks ensigns and I appreciate that the premiere starts off pretty much right where we left. While I still don’t love this particular animation aesthetic, it’s grown on me and I find that it often works to reinforce the show’s sincerity in a lot of ways. Something about the lines and colors being very flat and simple works with the overall theme of our protagonists being the bottom of the food chain, oft forgotten crew members aboard the Federation starships whose bridge crews Trek fans have come to know and love since the shows’ inception. I think the best thing Lower Decks has going for it is a combination of its faithfulness to the universe (and time period) it’s in and ensuring that in not taking itself too seriously, it stays genuinely endearing and heartfelt. 

The following section of this review will contain spoilers for the Star Trek: Lower Decks Season Two premiere. Read at your own risk! 

While it felt odd not having any Boimler action until the very end of the episode, I thoroughly loved how laser-focused it was on Mariner, specifically with regard to her new relationship with her mother. We left Season One with everyone finding out Mariner’s mom was none other than the Cerritos’ own captain. I was very curious to see how this would play out beyond the immediate repercussions of it prompting Boimler’s departure to adventure with Riker aboard his ship, Titan. While the episode primarily deals with Mariner’s tenuous-but-faking-everything-is-fine newfound partnership with her mother, it also makes it very clear that Mariner is feeling a bit untethered without Boimler to be her straight man. 

I also thought the b-plot with Tendi and Rutherford was incredibly charming and I truly love how steadfast the writers seem to be with ensuring that their relationship is an incredibly intimate friendship and nothing romantic (although I’ll be eating my words if this happens in the future, I suppose). The juxtaposition of Tendi’s heartfelt pleas to Rutherford regarding her feeling like he could easily decide she is no longer his best friend as easily as he has decided to have a relationship with a fellow Trill crewmate he’s recently started seeing again (or liking pears) with the visual gags of Commander Ransom’s literal godlike transformation as his disembodied head lays siege to the Cerritos is the exact kind of humor this show employs so, so well. 

Ultimately, the jokes and both A and B plots in this episode really worked for me, and it made it feel like not much time has really passed since Season One ended. Every gag landed and got a hearty chuckle or full-on guffaw from me. I’m excited to see where this season goes and I hope that episode two gives us more insight into what appears to be Boimler’s living hell aboard the Titan with Riker and his crew. All in all, I am absolutely delighted to have this extremely fun addition to the Star Trek universe back to tell us more stories about the unsung heroes of the lower decks of a Federation starship. 

Categories
Comics

Witchblood #5 Review: A Character-Oriented Reflection

It’s the end of the month, which means it is Witchblood time once again! We last saw our favorite chaotic cerulean-haired witch, Yonna, teaming up with her rivals Atlacoya and Big Red at the conclusion of issue four. The last month has been spent with countless questions being asked about all the wild reveals and twists that were dropped, so how does one keep that momentum going?

Witchblood’s fifth issue is much quieter than the last. It almost feels as though issue four didn’t happen in some ways. I don’t mean that as a bad thing in the slightest, mind you. Issue five feels more like it comes after issue three than four, and in that I find both the previous issue and the continuing larger narrative arc of Witchblood that much more intriguing. 

Credit: Matthew Erman/Lisa Sterle/Gab Contreras/AndWorld Design (Vault Comics)

We start this next chapter with yet another new face. A woman with an adorable otter and dowsing rods is surveying an area, only to happen upon the town of Sargasso. The town is ominous, and seems to almost be under sea, despite being very much on land like any other regular small town. After an ominous start with our new character, the trio we’ve come to know and love are shown essentially right where we left them: in hot pursuit of the Hounds of Love. The banter between Atla, Red, and Yonna is snarky and fun as usual and I personally could watch them bicker and be put in a “play nice” sweater together for eternity. The ladies end up in the same town as our fresh-faced mystery lady, Sargasso, to try and get some fuel for Atla’s gas guzzling truck only to find themselves knee-deep in the town’s sea-centric curse. While trying to uncover the source of this curse, Yonna runs into our mystery woman. Arteria is a witch and knows Yonna from “the old days”, which also gives us a glimpse of what Yonna was like before the tale of Witchblood began. 

Credit: Matthew Erman/Lisa Sterle/Gab Contreras/AndWorld Design (Vault Comics)

The issue continues with discovering the source of the curse via a quippy spelunking expedition with our ladies, and low and behold, it was a witch. When Yonna ensures the curse has been fully listed, she’s asked if she knew the witch in question, to which she hauntingly replies, “I knew all of them.” Arteria asks to join up and help our witch and her reluctant allies, but Yonna assures her that her dowsing talents are more needed in Sargasso to help them rebuild after the curse. We end on another self-reflective soliloquy from Yonna about her intimacy issues and whether or not she truly believes she keeps people at arm’s length for their safety, like she tells herself. The very last thing shown is the Hounds of Love seemingly close to approaching Esme in the flesh and are left to spend the next month wondering how all of this is going to play out.

Overall, I did feel a bit let down after the adrenaline rush of issue four initially, but I think in retrospect, the way this issue played out gives the audience more time to flesh out theories, think of new questions, and continue to read Yonna and company’s adventures with rapt attention. With so much still unknown and unanswered, the road ahead for our gals looks to be very exciting. Now to spend the next month chewing on what we do know, and where it could all lead!

Categories
Film

Star Wars: Interview with an Armorer

As someone who was truly born into nerdiness and has been cosplaying since 2005, I am keenly aware of what being a woman in a primarily male dominated hobby is like. Somewhere along the line, I met Brittany Kenville and we immediately clicked. Ever since that magical meeting, we’ve been inseparable and we’ve helped each other grow and progress in our crafting along the way. Once The Mandalorian hit Disney+, Kenville’s cosplay focus and skills have taken a surprising and abrupt turn to a new facet of the hobby for her: armorcraft. Being so close to her, I felt it was only right to crowdsource some questions from my fellow GateCrashers  to ask the Madam Mandalorian Maker herself. What follows is an interview with Kenville with the questions crafted from the GateCrashers crew and edited for clarity where needed. 

What specifically appeals to you about the Mandolorian armor itself?

I admire warriors. The Klingons, the Warrior-of-the-People Buffy Summers, Xena, Okoye, Aragorn…. they’ve always been the types who appeal to me. Mandalorians fall into the same category. I feel that part of being a warrior tends to involve you having some type of armor, but the Mandalorians and their beskar…. they just know how to make armor look GOOD. I was dazzled by Din Djarin and the Armorer, and the rest is history. 

What got you started with focusing your craft on armorsmithing?

I’d made a few props before, like Buffy’s spinning stake, the Slayer Scythe and a Scarlet Witch crown, but nothing near the level I’m on now. When I watched the first season of The Mandalorian and saw the Armorer’s fight scene at the end of the season… that changed everything for me. Lauren Mary Kim did that fight over 400 times to make it perfect and it shows. I’ve never been captivated by a fight scene like that in my entire life and I knew I had to make her armor the second I saw her standing like a champion over the destroyed Stormtroopers. You immediately know why she’s the only Mandalorian left in their covert.

While making your armor pieces and props, do you prefer to work in silence or with music?

Typically I like to watch/listen to TV shows, since I make everything in my house. While making the Sabines I watched the entirety of Yellowstone, Longmire and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and a lot of Frasier. When I was making Bo-Katan and Armorer I watched all of Clone Wars and Rebels. It’s easier to zone out and work for hours straight when you have shows autoplaying, rather than having to stop every so often to change the music. 

What made you decide to start working in the often overlooked medium of cardboard?

I started using cardboard because I wanted to make an Armorer helmet, but all the 3D printed ones I’ve seen online (to this day) haven’t gotten the back of her helmet right, which I get because you can only see it for a split second in the show. I wanted to try to get it right though. I attempted to use paper clay, and foam, and a few other things but I wasn’t happy with how any of it came out. Then I tried using cardboard because I had a bunch of old boxes saved from shipments I’d gotten, and now I love it because you can truly do so much with it. It’s nice to be able to recycle all my old boxes, and I feel like making props from cardboard is more accessible for broke bitches like me. I’m trying to avoid getting a 3D printer because I remember when they didn’t exist, and I don’t like to imagine a future where people can’t create art without computers. I want to keep the old ways alive. 

What are some of the challenges involved when working with cardboard?

The challenges are endless, I swear. I’m thinking of changing up the way I do things because as good as I consider my helmets to be, I’m still not satisfied with how they’re coming out. Cardboard alone is not stable enough for what I do with it, so I also use papier-mâché to help everything stay together, and then tons of gesso to have something to sand smooth for painting. But the papier-mâché tends to soak into the cardboard and cause it to swell and ripple, and I’ve probably redone every single component on every single helmet I’ve made at least five times. For the life of me I still can’t get the range-finders to do what I want or get a visor to fit perfectly, but I have many more helmets in my future and am hoping I can perfect my methods eventually. 

Outside of more Mandalorian armor, what’s your next cardboard creation?

I’m dying to make Jadzia Dax’s bat’leth from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. She specifies her dimensional preferences for it down to the centimeter, so I’ll be able to make it just like hers. I’m also going to be making her outfit from the episode “Blood Oath”, so I’ll have some cardboard Klingon armor in my life. 

When it comes to suits from comics or games, what is the most difficult part about making them look good in real life?

Well…. this is where I get into trouble. A lot of times I don’t think canon designs look that great. I take tons of artistic liberties, and I think that’s part of why I don’t get much recognition from the Star Wars community. The Sabines were definitely the most complex things I’ve ever made. Sabine is animated, and the design of her helmet is just not….rooted in physics or reality. So I tried to use my knowledge of how they translated Bo-Katan’s to real life, and I attempted to replicate that process. I am a painter, like Sabine, and to me some of the ways her helmets were painted by the animators just didn’t fit with the way her painting style on other things was. Her armor is painted in a different style than her helmets. Sabine to me is like a graffiti artist, with a good eye for colors and a desire to show off. In my opinion her helmet paint jobs would look a bit bland and flat in real life, (no disrespect to the artists, just looks better in animated form), so I did what I felt Sabine would have done if she were a real person and a real painter. I think the extra touches of color that I added, along with the ~purple beskar~ give them a deeper, more cohesive and beautiful feel. And now they all match! 

Judging by your Instagram, you’re a woman of many talents. How do you incorporate what you learn in your cake decorating into your armor building and vice versa? I feel like the attention to detail and patience required for both factors into it a bit, yeah?

Both cake decorating and armor building have a lot in common. I do a lot of planning prior to attempting either one. Cakes are a bit more forgiving, I’ve messed up cakes and have been able to fix them with just a little bit of time. Building armor is an entirely different beast though, and I’ve had to toss entire helmets because I’ve messed them up so badly. I think doing both has helped me with patience, doing a four-tiered wedding cake in 3 hours feels just as daunting as spending 3 months working on a helmet. I’ve learned that I can’t rush things, and if I want to spend my time repainting a helmet twenty times or redoing an inscription on a cake twenty times I’m going to, because the effort shows. I always try to present my best work, whether it’s a cake or some armor. 

As a woman in a fandom with rampant sexism, how do you navigate that?

I don’t really know how to. I spend a lot of time feeling like shit about it. It’s frustrating to see male cosplayers and creators getting supported overwhelmingly more than female/non-binary cosplayers and creators. It’s annoying opening my DMs and seeing dudes wanting to flirt with me instead of talking to me. It’s all discouraging and definitely gives me imposter syndrome and makes me want to only cosplay Jar Jar in a Star Trek dress so that Star Wars fans won’t want to talk to me. It’s pretty easy to find male Mandalorian helmet makers on Instagram, but it took me a while to find another woman so let me do you a favor in the spirit of supporting women: follow @vaultfox! She does fantastic work and gives me hope that the Star Wars community isn’t all bad.

What advice would you give other folks wanting to dive right into armor crafting and cosplay?

My best advice is this: don’t compare yourself to anyone else, don’t let anyone make you feel like your costume looks bad and don’t be discouraged if you mess up. People can be cruel and judgmental, but at the end of the day, if YOU like your costume that is the ONLY thing that matters. And if you make a mistake, just remember that I have probably made a worse mistake than you so don’t beat yourself up about it. I see people with flawless 3D printing files struggle to get their prints to come out right. It happens to the best of us! And please know that I’m happy to help any of you with anything you’re making!


Want to know more about Brittany Kenville and keep up with her latest cardboard cosplay exploits? You can find her over on Instagram: @swordofkahless.

Categories
Comics

Witchblood #4: The One That Changes Everything

“And I’m ashamed of running away
From nothing real
I just can’t deal with this
But I’m still afraid to be there”

-”Hounds of Love” by Kate Bush

Witchblood has, in four issues, hooked me into their universe more than most Big Two comics can do in entire trades. I don’t know how this happened or where it came from but believe me when I say, you have no idea what to expect from this book. I went in thinking one thing, started reading, and still felt similarly, but with some added context. As the book went on I was still feeling relatively on the same track, with some slight variances. 

Issue four came into my inbox and just completely turned every expectation or theory I had to dust. Much like the Major Arcana in tarot (of which there are plenty of visual references throughout this book’s run thus far), Yonna was a lone figure starting out on a wild and often arduous journey of growth and acceptance. To me, Yonna came off much like The Fool and while the comparison is obviously not 1:1, I genuinely thought this is how it would play out and boy was I ever wrong. I am sincerely at a loss for how exactly to discuss this issue because there’s just so much that happens. New characters, swift twists and turns to keep the reader guessing, and an absolutely massive reveal that will change the trajectory of this book entirely. I truly cannot wait to see where things go from here. 

The first three issues of Witchblood have ramped up each month and, as any series does in the beginning, introduced us to Yonna and the world she lives in. One of the things I have found the strongest is the fact that Yonna’s world is not unlike our own. By grounding it to reality in small ways, I always found it much easier to warm to the story and characters. I also felt like it helped the readers gain easy footing and feel comfortable, but remain inquisitive. I’ll admit that the first issue or two felt a bit guarded in its lore reveals and world-building. Looking back on it now after having read issue four, that guardedness was very intentional. Without feeling a bit left out of the bigger picture, I don’t think this major plot twist would have worked nearly as well. It takes a lot to completely take me by surprise, but I can say with full transparency, I would not have been able to predict where this book headed, or even where it will be heading in the near future. 

Coming off of issue three, I was truly excited to see where Witchblood went. Issue three was by far my favorite of the series so far and it looked like things were going to get real wild and weird in issue four. While I was correct on that part, I don’t think I ever could have braced myself for the rollercoaster ride we ended up receiving. We left off with, what is arguably one of the best intros of all time, Texas Red on her valiant steed Belenus.

Issue four picks up immediately after Red’s intro and things just escalate from there. There’s Hounds of Love, there’s fighting, there are reluctant partnerships, there’s…sky vampires? We are not only introduced to a new character, Paradisia Bath, but a whole new part of this world called the Limbo of Vanity. Paradisia literally swoops in on her adorable bat Olam Ha-Ba and immediately seems infatuated with Yonna and her recent display of previously unknown powers.

This power, unfortunately, levels all of San Sangre, but since Atlacoya and Texas Red were unconscious, Yonna elects to change the narrative to something a bit more palatable and blames the Hounds of Love. We’re left wondering if this is an entirely selfish motivation on Yonna’s part to ensure her new partnership with the two who were previously hunting her goes smoothly, or if she really does believe they’re better off not knowing the truth. With so much action already behind us, what could possibly happen next

Well, to gain the trust of Texas Red and Atlacoya, Yonna reveals the biggest secret of the Witchblood world: Esme, the previously mentioned witch queen that the Hounds of Love have been hunting, is not a witch at all. Witches aren’t her children, either. Yonna reveals that Esme is, in fact, an alien. Witches like Yonna were once mere mortals before encountering Esme. “Well, what about the vampires”, you may ask. Turns out humans were envious of Esme’s power and the gifts she bestowed upon a select few that became witches. Then, the humans who took umbrage with this decided then to steal Esme’s blood and were then cursed to become vampires. The entire motivation for the vampires to hunt witches is now revealed and why there’s a very ominous sky castle and why witches are so secretive and guarded: they’re hiding. 

All in all, Witchblood’s fourth issue is a doozy. I think this will be a great point that will turn a lot of readers who felt only partially invested in the first three issues into dedicated readers. Before this, I would say that the previous issue was my favorite and the strongest, but that has changed drastically. After this huge twist and all of these wild reveals, I absolutely cannot wait for what the Witchblood team has in store for us in the near future.