Melanie is a shy, insecure and put-upon teenager who would most likely have remained that way were it not for a chance encounter with a dying warrior. To keep it out of the hands of evil she is fostered with the Wraithborn, a supernatural power guarded by an ancient and secretive brotherhood to battle demonic immortals. Only problem is, anyone who possesses the power immediately becomes a target for those who desire it.
As concepts go Wraithborn’s is not exactly groundbreaking, but the plot is interesting enough for what it is. Acting as an origin story, it sees Melanie’s everyday life of teenage obscurity become gatecrashed by a world of supernatural terror that she barely has a moment to get her head around. Surrounded by people who want to use her or kill her and with some characters’ allegiances constantly shifting, trust is difficult for her to come by. Despite how good the intentions of those who defend her might be, everyone she encounters is ultimately driven by their own selfish desire for power, each somewhat arrogantly believing that they alone possess the wisdom to properly wield it.
Deftly mixing urban fantasy and horror, each hell-beast sent after Melanie is more hideous than the last, reanimation and dark magic warping them into slavering creatures of contorted limbs, swollen muscles, glowing eyes, piercing claws and razor teeth. The fights are fast, intense and brutal, the modern age and ancient magic viscerally clashing as blood and body parts soak the grey stone of the uncomprehending city.
The comic has been frequently compared to Witchblade, and with both the premise of an inherited mantle used to fight supernatural evil and luscious artwork featuring beautiful busty women in tight and revealing outfits it’s not an entirely unfair comparison. It also shares more than a little DNA with Buffy, having an ordinary teenager becoming the latest in a line of Chosen Ones without being given any say in the matter, thereby assuming the responsibility of battling the forces of darkness.
Volume one of Wraithborn is only an introduction to its world, offering a mere glimpse at its background mythology. Despite its familiar setup it leaves you hungry to learn about what other monstrosities lurk in the shadows, and see the development of its nascent heroine into the dark and hardened warrior it promises she will become.
WRAITHBORN VOLUME 1 / AUTHOR: MARIA CHEN, JOE BENITEZ / ARTIST: JOE BENITEZ, JOE WEEMS, VICTOR LLAMAS, MIKE GARCIA / PUBLISHER: BENITEZ PRODUCTIONS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW