Not only has Patience, The Magdalena, been fatally stabbed and left to bleed out on in front of a Mexican church’s altar, but the fragment of the one true cross and her familial artifact, The Spear of Destiny, have been taken from her and her mentor Kristof. Fortunately, Patience has inherited some of her family gifts, and after a brief time in a coma Patience manages to heal herself. While she is comatose though, she has visions of The Dragon of Revelation and the final battle between good and evil. Upon awakening, Kristof informs her that a Kuo Yang, a Chinese national who has a “long history of trafficking in illegal archeological artifacts” is the current possessor of the True Cross fragment and her Spear of Destiny. Kuo though is working for a more powerful Chinese criminal, who has no problem procuring the Spear, as well as the True Cross fragment, from Kuo. Kuo discovers though that someone is on his trail, someone whom he doesn’t suspect, or even know…
Marz continues to weave the story of Patience’s quest to retrieve the fragments of the True Cross, this time making even more interesting use of religious iconography. Unfortunately, the iconography and allusion he makes use of could be considered a little controversial. Patience’s visions of the dragon, and comatose musing over the passages of Revelation concerning the dragon, give way to later on revealing themselves to be representative of a Chinese dragon, as the villain behind the scenes, and his lackey are both Chinese. I don’t think that the alluded similarities of the dragon, a Chinese national icon, and the Dragon of Revelation is meant to be a comment on the whole of Chinese culture, but undoubtedly someone will make something of this. The Magdalena is awash in semi-controversial (albeit artistically bold) religious and cultural imagery. The image of Patience bleeding roses from her side in a semi crucifixion pose and the image of Kristof cradling Patience as she is dying on the steps of the altar in a pose similar to that of The Pieta can be considered semi-controversial themselves. The whole Mary Magdalene/Christ’s descendents thing is so ingrained in pop culture now though that these images aren’t really the news-makers they were a few decades ago. Regardless, the Dragon imagery isn’t over the top because it obviously is meant to refer to the specific villain, not Chinese culture in any way. Either way, all of this is just another example of what makes Marz and Blake II’s The Magdalena such an interesting read every month.
Nelson Blake II keeps up the good work artistically this issue. He covers all the bases excellently each and every time he draws an issue of The Magdalena, which includes fight choreography, realistic anatomy, and sufficient detail. One area that I wish he was more attentive to though is background detail. He has an eye for sculpture-like poses, I don’t think it would be a stretch for him to add some of that type of iconographic background detail (especially when the action is in Rome), Seattle’s Chinatown, or rural Mexico. For a work that’s packed with Roman Catholic imagery, he really could cut loose with some great background detail, again especially when in Rome, or in one of the Roman Catholic Churches that Patience so often finds herself doing battle in.
Again, as I’ve said before, The Magdalena isn’t a doozy of a literary read every month (although Marz could make it be if he really cut loose with it), nor is it the most original work on the shelves monthly, but it is one of the most solid and indisputably and unrepentantly consistent monthly books published. For those with an interest in (real world based) religious fiction/action/adventure, The Magdalena is for you.