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Portal Games announced the 51st State Ultimate Edition is coming soon to Gamefound and will included new content with the crowdfunding campaign The campaign launches in February 2022 with component upgrades, reprints of hard-to-find content, and a new expansion, No Man’s Land, designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek. 51st State was originally published in 2010, and was a breakout success for Portal Games. Set in the same universe as the fan favorite Neuroshima Hex , 51st State offered players a new way to fight for resources in the wastelands of America. The release of the 51st State Master Set in 2016 brought together the core game and both the original expansions, Winter and New Era in one box with an all-new look and improved gameplay. Three additional expansions have since been released for the Master Set, growing the line to a fan favorite. Portal Games wants to give players the definitive experience they deserve with the 51st State Ultimate Edition.  The 51st State Ultimate Edition coming

Featured Review @TopCow Witchblade #175 @TopCowMatt @RonMarz @LauraBraga_rt @TheThirdG


Witchblade #175 - Into the Fire; Temple of Shadows; 4 for 5


DOUBLE-SIZED ANNIVERSARY ISSUE! Starting a new storyline, the team of writer RON MARZ and artist LAURA BRAGA continue their acclaimed run, providing an entry point for new readers, as well as a celebration of all that’s gone before. Also features a second story by MARZ & BRAGA, revealing a previously untold tale of the Witchblade in feudal Japan, as well as other bonus features.

Features three stories:

-The Witchblade, still enraged that she abandoned it, attacks Sara in the middle of the night and drags her into its consciousness where the two engage in a battle of wills.

-Set in Japan in both 1633 and the present day, Sara Pezzini and former-bearer Shiroi face the same threat in different eras.


-Set some time between Witchblade #100 and 150, Patrick Gleason tells us what its like to be a cop partnered up with a superwoman.




Preview



Review


See the Review Rating Overview page for more information on how I rate each comic


Cover & Solicit 5/5


This issues has three covers. The first is drawn by the interior artist Laura Braga, the second is by the talented John Tyler Christopher (Artifacts, Dark Avengers, New Mutants) and the last is from the legendary Micheal Turner (Witchblade, Fathom). The main cover by Braga & Betsy Gonia has one of those old 1920's Great Gatsby feels to it and is a nice pinup with Betsy's colors complimenting this feel. Tyler's is more of a play on the events of the first story in this issue with the Witchblade trying to take control of Sara. Turner's is a classic cover from 1995 and is a beautiful rendering of Sara and the Witchblade in only the way he can.

Art, Colors & Inking 4/5


This issue is broken into three stories with the first two being drawn by Laura Braga (Cyber Force) with Besty Gonia (Cyber Force, Think Tank, Bushido) on colors. This dynamic duo continues to impress me and produce excellent images. I have mentioned it before and it probably my only gripe with Laura's art and it's when she shows certain expressions the eyes look strange. She does an excellent job showing emotion I just wish the eyes didn't look the way they do at times. I really like however the image on the final page of the issue, I just love the subtle use of the forest to create the Witchblade similar to how Tyler used the chalk outline on the last issues cover. I also really like her take on the different embodiment's of the Witchblade, example being the armor that the bearer wears in the second story looks awesome. The final story is drawn by Carlos Rodriguez (Hulk, Namor, Shadowhawk) with Bill Farmer (Twilight Guardian) on colors. I actually like his style as well, the images match the time that the story takes place (between issues 100-150).

Layout & Flow 5/5


Again Top Cow continues to have the recap at the beginning of the issues and the new feature called The Witching Hour. This issue really presents itself as another jumping on point for new readers. While Marz does an excellent job in every issue to make it new reader friendly, this one is more so because IMO it's more of a filler issue, as most double-size anniversary issues normally are. As for the stories each flowed well and served their purposes. I did have a hesitation with the first story when the group of females are seen at the beginning, as not being a long time reader I didn't know Sara communed with the past bearers. Marz does eventually state they are part of a sisterhood so I put two and two together. The other two stories are more of a stand alone and work well. The Witching Hour in this issue is a nice catch-up of how Sara battles with the Witchblade and how even with the most powerful Artifact, Sara is still the same detective & beat cop she was in issue #1.

Story 5/5


This issue is a double-sizes and features three stories. The first two are written by Ron Marz (Green Lantern, Artifacts, Silver Surfer). The first story seems to be a segue into the next arc. We find Sara communing with the past bearers where they state she will always be one of them. Now not knowing from past issues I don't know if she has done this in the past in a dream state or if this was just that a dream. I know Marz has been using dreams sequences a lot in his new run, and most are flashbacks to actual events so I'm holding that she was talking to them. Sara eventually wakes and find the Witchblade missing, as it is no longer attached to her. It seems it's not all that happy about being abandoned. This is an excellent interaction that Marz has provided us. It shows that there is a constant battle, and also gives some back-story that readers like myself may be missing as to why Sara wanted to rid herself of the Witchblade. In the end Marz leaves us with Rooney meeting Sara behind her house. I feel this new character is going to be a big part of the future of Marz's run, and I can't wait to see what he does with her.

The second story takes place in the past in Japan. It tells of a prior Witchblade bearer and her elimination of an evil entity. Marz then takes us to 1 year prior when Sara visits Japan to rid it of the same evil. It's a nice one-shot and shows that while evil will always come back and will always exist, there will always be somebody there to stop it.

The final story is written newcomer Ashley Robinson and also takes place in the past between issues 100 and 150. As I haven't read any of these issues, it was nice to see some past history of Sara and her interactions with prior characters. The story is told form the point of view of Patrick Gleason during his time with Sara. It's nice to see how others view Sara, and Patrick continues to use the term hero to describe her compared to himself. While not groundbreaking or new information, Ashley does add to the history of the characters. She also shows that there is a time and place for the Witchblade, and also that it isn't the Witchblade, but the actual human spirit that makes a real hero.

Verdict - 4.7 (9.5/10) (Buy Witchblade) SAVE 10%

After the last arc I was really excited for the anniversary issue. The team of Ron Marz, Laura Braga, and Betsy Gonia are doing a great job since their assignment to the book and this issue is no exception. The first two storied in the issue by them are excellently done and a great read. The final story by newcomer Ashely Robinson and veteran artists Carlos Rodriguez and  Bill Farmer work great together and bring you a new story from the past for the Witchblade mythos. If you missed the last arc make sure you pickup this issue as your jumping on point, and don't forget to grab the TPB for the last arc as it's a must read.

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