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Magdalena Volume 1 Paperback – August 23, 2011
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A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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Since I had no previous knowledge of this series, I performed a quick search to see what I was missing (is there anything Wikipedia doesn't know?). Even without the information prior to starting this novel, I wouldn't have had any difficulty following the story.
Who is the Magdalena? She is a warrior descended from a royal bloodline of extreme power. Raised and trained by the Roman Catholic Church, her purpose is to serve and protect them from all forms of evil.
When prayer is not enough, the Magdalena and her Spear of Destiny (the spear that pierced the side of Christ) gets the job done.
The latest Magdalena is Patience. Unlike her predecessors, Patience has separated herself from the Church and continues to fight evil without their guidance.
I'm not completely clear on the details of her falling out with the Church. Her distrust of Cardinal Innocent is apparent and she makes a reference to the Church using the Magdalena's as sacrifices, but that's the extent of my knowledge concerning her abandonment of the Catholic Church.
The story focuses on Patience and Kristof as they work together to investigate rumors concerning the appearance of a boy who is believed to be the son of Satan.
Kristof must first convince Cardinal Innocent that Patience is a valuable asset, one of the strongest Magdalena's that has existed, and that she can be made to see reason and assist the Church when necessary.
Without her yielding to their authority, they prefer to confiscate her spear and have her permanently replaced. There can only be one Magdalena.
"She turned her back on the Church. On the blood of Christ that runs through her veins.
What use is a servant who will not serve, no matter how great her abilities?"
Patience must return to the Church to confront Cardinal Innocent, investigate the rumors stemming from the "Lucifer's Children" cult, and make the difficult decision to murder a young boy who is believed to be the Anti-Christ.
The story line, dialogue and gorgeous artwork made this an all around impressive and engaging read.
Now I have to get my hands on The Magdalena Origins Volumes 1 and 2.
Mary Magdalen was married to Jesus and pregnant when he was crucified. She gave birth to a daughter and the bloodline of Christ survived a thousand years before being discovered by the Catholic Church. Their existence threatened the Church, but they were of a holy bloodline and had some cool powers. Instead of destroying them, the Church turned them into warrior nuns. (Yes, that sounds a bit silly, but bear with me.) The women would be trained to take on the mantle of The Magdalena when needed. Only one woman at a time can fill the position and she can only be replaced upon her death. While these women were powerful they had very short life spans as the church never really protected them but sent them out alone on the most dangerous of missions. Patience, the current Magdalena, ran away from the convent as a young woman. She had felt trapped by a destiny she never wanted. Her entire life was devoted to training and being a tool for the Church. Kristof, a Knight of Malta, is sent to find the runaway, bring her back, and train her. She trusts him, returns to the Church, and accepts the role of Magdalena. Unfortunately for those who know about and control The Magdalena, Patience is not content to be a tool, an unthinking servant, or cannon fodder. She accepts her destiny and her faith, she understands that she is needed to protect mankind; she doesn't accept that every aspect of her life needs to be controlled, that she's disposable, or that she should follow blindly where led. Past Magdalenas have been murdered for following the truths their gifts showed them instead of following the Church's orders. She breaks with the church again as she believes she should actually protect the world from evil instead of protecting the Church's place in the world.
The Magdalena, Volume 1 contains the first six issues of the new series. We see Kristof once again trying to get Patience to return to the church. They both understand that if she refuses, the church will have her killed an another female relative will take her place as The Magdalena. They have strong evidence that the Antichrist has been born and is being protected by a cult called Lucifer's Children. They need Patience to kill the boy before he comes into power. She agrees to investigate but refuses to kill the boy. She believes that they are both in similar situations, raised/brainwashed into accepting a life that they didn't want. As she gets closer to her target they are beset by demons and begin to suspect that their is a traitor in the Church who is helping the Children of Lucifer.
I have long associated Image Comics with great art, more adult story lines, and scantily clad kick-butt heroines. The Magdalena, Volume 1 gives us the first two and fully clothed heroine. Patience is secure in her faith and her abilities, but she does not trust her handlers in the Church. She constantly butts heads against their expectation to serve them and her need to actually do the right thing. Marz has created an action packed story that addresses the differences between faith, destiny, service, and sacrifice and blind obedience, control, slavery, and disposable lives. While the bad guys are starkly slimy and awful, our good guys, Patience and Kristof, are more complex and well rounded. So far I'm hooked and hope to learn more about the history of Patience's family.
The story reads quickly, has lots of action, and gives you situations and ideas to really think about. This is a good start to a new series and I look forward to reading more.
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