For readers of Top Cow's Witchblade, the end of the War of the Witchblades has led to the character's mythology entering a whole new phase. And it looks like it's going to be a doozy.
But first, the writers have to flesh out a part of Top Cow's trinity that hasn't gotten as much attention as the other two: Angelus.
"We always felt that Witchblade and the Darkness have always been well-established properties for Top Cow, with animation and video games," said writer Ron Marz, one of the main orchestrators recently of the Witchblade universe and author of December's Angelus mini-series. "They've really been kind of the twin pillars of the company for quite a while. And the Angelus is supposed to be kind of this third part of that trinity of characters and concepts, but it's always come across as little more than, 'Oh, yeah, that lady that the Darkness fights once in a while.'"
With the six-issue Angelus mini-series, writer Ron Marz will focus on one of the powerful supernatural artifacts that are central to the Top Cow universe. Although there are 13 artifacts in all, which will be explored further in next year's Artifacts summer event, the Darkness, the Witchblade and the Angelus Force are collectively known as the "trinity" and are the most important among them.
Marz has already stated that next year's Artifacts will be "the biggest, universe-changing story," but before Top Cow's heroes can enter that chapter, the writer has to round out the Angelus part of the trinity, which has been much less fleshed out than the Darkness or Witchblade.
According to Marz, that's been the plan all along.
"When we introduced Danielle Baptiste into the Witchblade storyline, which is now probably over three years ago, the plan was always that she was gonna have the Witchblade for a while, and then they were gonna battle for the Witchblade, and then Dani was gonna become the Angelus," Marz explained to Newsarama. "When writers tell you that, 'Oh, this is the story we've been planning to tell for years,' 90 percent of the time it's complete bullshit. But in this case, I swear to God it's true. This is what we intended all along, it's just it took us almost four year to pay it off.
"So the whole reason for creating her character, besides giving us another element in Witchblade, was to grow a character that the readers would actually care about by the time we made her into the Angelus," he said.
Marz said the whole idea was to establish the character first, then put her in a role that was more of a leading one in the Top Cow universe. "So with the end of War of the Witchblades, we made Dani the host for the Angelus, and in December she gets her star turn, really, or her star turn continues, I guess, as she gets her own six-issue mini," he said.
Although there will be a cameo by the current Witchblade wielder, Sara Pezzini, with the page of Angelus, Marz said the story's focus is squarely placed on Dani.
"More than anything, the story is really about Dani adjusting to the role of the Angelus, and exploring what the Angelus actually is," Marz said. "Readers sort of know the in's and out's of the Witchblade and the Darkness because they've been around for a decade a piece, a decade-plus a piece. There's really not a whole lot known about what the Angelus is, what it does, how it affects the host. So all of that is we're kind of making up from wholecloth because not a lot of it has been established. So the first few issues you really have a large dose of giving the reader more information than they've ever had about the Angelus."
But although Sara doesn't play a large role, readers of Witchblade will also see Finch show up, Dani's friend and potential romantic interest, as well as the Angelus warrior Sabine, who isn't happy she didn't become the host of the Angelus. And Jackie Estacado, the Darkness, will show up for a few issues because of his history with the Angelus character -- one that isn't exactly friendly.
"We need to work out exactly how these two, essentially, age-old enemies are going to co-exist in this new paradigm that we've come up with," Marz said. "So Jackie's definitely in there."
First and foremost, however, the Angelus mini-series will firmly establish Dani in her new role. "This series will let Dani figure out if this is actually what she wants to do, and exactly what the Angelus force can do," Marz said. "At some point, Peter Parker finds out to some degree if he really wants to be Spider-Man. This is very much that kind of position for Dani, in that she has to figure out if this is what she's meant to do, if this is what she wants the rest of her life to be like."
Fans of Top Cow's artifacts series like The Darkness and Witchblade won't have to read Angelus to understand where the universe is heading next year, but Marz said the mini-series will round out that world for those readers who want to know more.
"There will be elements kind of threaded through the Angelus mini that will show up in Artifacts," he said. "But I try to avoid doing these crossover type things that turn into 37-part monsters that you have to read everything to make sense of it. I understand that the budgets for readers and retailers alike are stretched thin enough as it is. And with Marvel and DC going to war on a constant basis with the epic, multi-part crossover, I try to make what I do pretty much stand-alone."
In fact, Marz said this series can be enjoyed by readers who are brand new to the Top Cow universe. "They don't need any previous knowledge when they come into it, and they'll have a sense of closure at the end of it," he said.
"But if somebody has read Witchblade up to this point, and they want to move onto the Angelus mini-series, there will be threads that continue, and there will be threads from the Angelus mini-series that continue in Artifacts," Marz said, "but they're more like, I don't want to say minor threads, but they're secondary threads that will eventually kind of all come together when we bring this whole story to a great culmination in 2010."