Have you ever had to pick up and leave your hometown, and find that the same problems follow you wherever you go? Top Cow’s Witchblade, Sara Pezzini is finding out the hard way when she relocated to Chicago and finds the supernatural horrors she left in New York are even worse in the Windy City.In the wake of Top Cow’s “Rebirth” of its superhero line, writer Tim Seeley has charted the Witchblade series to Chicago and seen Pezzini give up her badge for the job of being a private detective. But bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘stranger in a strange town,” Pezzini is finding that Chicago is a hotbed of supernatural activity, including twisted copies of the 13 Artifacts all orchestrated by someone or something called the Corruption Cataract.
In this week’s Witchblade #160, Sara comes face-to-face with one of the bearers of these twisted Artifacts, a spry hipster girl who is the anti-Magdalena. But unlike previous Witchblade stories she has no old friends to rely on, and instead must rely on herself and an odd group of friends and acquaintances who she doesn’t completely trust.
Newsarama: Witchblade #160 comes out this week, but many people haven’t made it to their comic shops yet. What can you tell us about this issue, which is almost a year into your run, Tim?Tim Seeley: Witchblade #160 is the second part of a mini-storyline which sets up one of Sarah’s new big rivals. This character, Alissa, is in effect the anti-Magdalena. The original Magdalena was a soldier for Jesus, so being the exact opposite gives you an idea of her goals. Alissa fits into the story we’ve been developing that there is some kind of force working in Chicago that’s able to duplicate the powers of the 13 Artifacts and create its own twisted versions of them.
With these powers, Alissa is in effect the Anti-Christ, except in the body of a cute hipster girl. One aspect of her powers is her ability to lure in bad people to worship her. Stock traders, serial killers, car dealers, hitmen, gangsters, those are the kinds of people that follow her.
Newsarama: In the last issue, you described Alissa as “Satan’s more evil annoying hipster sister”. What kind of threat exactly does she pose to Sara here?Exclusive
InteriorSeeley: The tendency when creating villains is to want to make them more physically powerful than the hero, like Doomsday. For Alissa, we instead wanted to make someone smarter than Sara. We’ve seen Sara do all sorts of physical feats to beat her opponents, but to beat Alissa – if she’s going to beat her – she’ll need to up her game. Alissa can see things far in the future, and can see how doing certain things can lead to the accomplishment of her bigger goals. Sara’s trained as a cop, and cops react to situations. To even hope of dealing with Alissa, she’ll have to learn to anticipate what’s going to happen even though it’s complex and far-reaching. Alissa poses a challenge to Sara that she’ll only be able to overcome if she pushes herself to be a greater detective.
Newsarama: Speaking of pushing, you’re almost one year into your role as the series writer of Witchblade, taking over when the Top Cow universe was reborn. Now that you’re ten issues in, how do you think you’ve done?Exclusive
InteriorSeeley: I think I’ve done okay. I don’t get a lot of reaction from fans; this is frankly the least interactive project I’ve worked on. I take that to mean that they’re either cool with it or they’ve fallen off. The sales have been good, so I think it’s the former. When I read reviews, people seem to like the direction I’ve taken Witchblade The character of Sara Pezzini isn’t broken, and I’m not trying to fix her. Ron Marz’s run did a real great, comprehensive job of dealing with all sorts of things.
For me coming onto Witchblade, I felt like I had to give her a new situation without changing the character. We’re showing how she deals with the post-“Rebirth” status quo, and as part of that I wanted to give her a change. Sara’s become very confident in her previous situation – she knew the city of New York, she knew how to be an NYPD detective. Her adventures dealing with the supernatural stuff as Witchblade were the uncomfortable aspect of her life.Exclusive Witchblade #161 Interior Since I took on Witchblade is make Witchblade the constant but the scenario completely new. She quit the NYPD and pulled up and moved to Chicago. Here she has to find a new social circle, new friends, new enemies, and deal with a new city with new rules. She know longer has her history with a city or her friends in the police department to fall back on. Now she’s a private detective in a town where the cops don’t like her. Now, retreating to the supernatural side of her life is the only thing familiar to her.
Nrama: Sara is a fish out of water here, trying to stay afloat in Chicago. I know you hail from Chicago, so were there any personal experiences that you used in showing Sara getting to know the city?
Seeley: I think everyone at some point as felt like a fish out of water. A new job, a new town, everyone can relate to that to some degree. For me, I moved to Chicago after college and I was a bit of a small town bumpkin. Chicago was a life-changing experience for me, and I’ve come to learn it well in the 10 years I’ve spent year.Exclusive
InteriorAnd you’re right, I have used some of those experiences here – but unlike me, Sara is coming from an even bigger city in New York when she comes to Chicago. It was important to really show Chicago as it’s own town, not as just a generic New York City with smaller buildings. For it to work, readers had to really feel the town, from the big skyscrapers down to the little details that make Chicago, Chicago. I wanted to use my experiences to flesh out her story so that her experiences would ring true. Witchblade isn’t just about writing crazy monsters and magical artifacts, it’s about living and dealing with the world around you.
Nrama: In your run on Witchblade so far, you’ve really pulled back the curtain and shown Chicago as a hotbed of supernatural activity. Of key interest is these supernatural doorways to different dimensions that dot the town in out-of-the-way places.
Seeley: Right, I connected it a little bit to the “Rebirth” storyline event. When they re-created the Top Cow universe, there were flaws in it that resulted in breaks in the fabric of reality. Some of the more major breaks brought stuff in from the older, previous universe. That’s what we’re calling the Corruption Cataract. It’s a play on how Chicago is regarded as a corrupt city; we’re revealing with this that there’s a reason behind it: a malevolent force that’s pervaded the city since the earliest times. Everything from the city’s time as a major part of the meat-shipping industry to the Chicago Fire, and everything are all tied to the Corruption Cataract. When Sara comes to Chicago, she sees first hand how the Corruption Cataract is making versions of the Artifacts, of which the Witchblade is one of them.Nrama: As part of moving to a new town, she’s finding new friends – and new enemies. Can you tell us about Cain Jorgensen?
Seeley: Cain was developed in the long vein of Witchblade love interests, going all the way back to Ian Nottingham; bad boys that were compelling and also possible romantic interests for Sara. Cain is in there somewhere.
As readers have seen in his appearances so far in Witchblade, he has an ulterior motive at play but no one except him knows exactly what it is. He’s clearly playing his own game, and when Sara finds that out she won’t be too pleased. But she needs him because he knows the story on the ground and this new town she’s in, so she’s stuck with him. She’s attracted to him even though he’s clearly been doing things for his own reasons, and when that all comes into light there will be some conflict.Nrama: What can you say as to the future of Witchblade - where are you taking the book in the next few issues?
Seeley: The main themes of my approach to Witchblade has been to explore her as a character, to deal with the fact that she’s a very defined character with a really strong moral sense. She knows what’s good, and she knows what’s wrong. What we want to play with is what happens when that black-and-white approach doesn’t work for Sara. Knowing right from wrong doesn’t always help, so she’ll have to find a way to act in the middle. Readers will see that come to play in the future, especially when we bring in characters like Jackie Estacado and the other Artifact bearers like Tom Judge. She’s going to have a new perspective the next time she crosses paths with them; she’s not the Sara they once knew.Want more Witchblade? Read the entire Witchblade #159 by clicking right here! Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!