After seven years and 70 issues, writer Ron Marz is closing out his run on Top Cow’s Witchblade with this week’s 150th issue. Over the course of his run, Marz has revealed new facets two Sara Pezzini’s life as a cop and as the bearer of the mystical Witchblade. But in this landmark issue, Marz gives Pezzini a choice: the badge or the blade.
Newsarama has talked with Marz frequently over the course of his run on Witchblade, and we convened one last time to talk about his final issue, his thoughts on his run, and what he’s got planned next.
Newsarama: Ron, what can you tell us about this week’s Witchblade #150?
Ron Marz: This issue brings to close this chapter of Sara’s life and. Without giving too much away, we planted seeds for some of what happens in #150 in previous issues. I felt like with me stepping aside from Witchblade to go over to Artifacts as it becomes an ongoing series, I wanted to bring some closure to my run, and make a clean break for the next guy coming onto the book.
Nrama: The big decision Sara faces is choosing between being a cop and being the bearer of the Witchblade full-time. Can you tell us how those two can’t co-exist any longer?
Marz: As we’ve shown in previous issues, there’s a cop from the Internal Affairs Bureau of the NYPD that is very much grinding an axe for Sara. He has enough evidence of her using the Witchblade to have her bounced from the police force, but he gives her a choice between keeping the Witchblade or keeping her job. To me, those are two real motivating factors in Sara’s life. I wanted to make her make that choice, to really decide which is more important to her.
Nrama: You mentioned earlier that you’ve seeded this story for some time. Seeing as how you’ve been writing this title since 2004, when’d you realize it would all be coming down to this?
Marz: I don’t know if there was a specific point where the penny dropped and I knew what was going to happen in Witchblade #150, but obviously once the decision was made for me and Stjepan Sejic to go over to Artifacts, we had to come up with an exit strategy that would be satisfying for readers. These story elements were certainly going to come to a boil eventually, but I think knowing we were stepping aside from the book, it seemed an opportune time to address them. As a writer, sometimes you absolutely plant seeds for future stories, but sometimes things that happen are happy accidents. You realize you put a scene in an issue last year that you can go back and play off of. I would like to sit here and say that everything you’ll see in Witchblade #150 has been planned since the beginning, but any writer who would tell you that is full of shit. Some things are happy accidents, and you only realize the connections until you step back.
Nrama: You’re the longest running Witchblade writer out there, so you’re the one to ask: what makes her so enduring – and durable in the comics world?
Marz: Honestly, I don’t know that there’s just one answer. There’s obviously a dearth of female lead characters in comics for a multitude of reasons. I think Marvel just canceled it’s lone remaining female-led book with X-23, and DC obviously has a number of them currently thanks to the “New 52” relaunch, but I think if you look at the comic racks in general, there’s not that many female-led books that last… certainly not 150 issues. In my mind, one of the reasons this has lasted is because Witchblade is a good high-concept that people can latch onto. More than anything, Sarah is just a kick-ass character. She’s a three-dimensional, strong, action-oriented character, even without the Witchblade, as a NYPD detective. I think she’s someone you want to read about whether you’re a man or a woman. She’s good at her job, and a hero both with the Witchblade and without it.
She’s three-dimensional enough that while she’s a hero, her character isn’t a boy scout (or girl scout, I guess, in her case). Yes, she’s a hero, but she also has rough edges to her. I think having those shades of grey is always a positive, and makes characters feel more like real people. It certainly propelled my interest in writing the book for 70 issues, because I wanted to see what happened to her next. That’s ultimately the reason any book keeps going; the audience cares enough about the main characters that they want to know more.
Nrama: What would you say were the real breakthroughs for you during your six years on the book?
Marz: First off all, I think it’s a group effort that we made it to this point. Everyone involved did their jobs. I’m very pleased that during my run we were able to broaden the mythology of the Witchblade and set it in the larger context of the 13 Artifacts. I’m proud to have been able to put a specific origin for the Witchblade, which previously had only been revealed in bits and pieces, with nothing terribly concrete to it. I thought that after 10 years the audience deserved to know what the Witchblade really is and where it came from. And I'm very happy that we were able to have Sara get pregnant and have a baby.
Nrama: What would you say are the most personal moments for you in the series?
Marz: I think certainly when Sara had the baby, those things were experiences I could draw upon, since we have three kids. I tried to draw as much as possible from those experiences, and the feelings of being a parent, particularly a mother’s role from my vantage point. And I tried to make it as realistic as possible. You don’t see that too often in comics, main characters going through those kinds of life experiences.
Nrama: Sara’s choice here is something a lot of people might see in their own lives, choosing between two career paths. Not too get too personal – well, maybe a little – but what would you say was the big crossroads for you in your career?
Marz: Well for me, it was either writing or being unemployed. [laughs]
For me, I always knew I was going to be a writer. Even in elementary school, it’s just what I did. Once I found out being third baseman for the Mets probably wasn’t going to happen for me, I stayed on the writing path all the way from elementary school until now. It didn’t occur to me to be anything else. I didn’t know I was going to be a comic writer, but I knew I was going to write. Certainly ghosting a lot of essays and term papers for friends should've been some indication of my future vocation.
Nrama: Although your time on Witchblade is coming to an end, you’re sticking with Top Cow as Artifacts segues from an event miniseries to an ongoing. Can you tell us about what’s coming up with you and Top Cow?
Marz: Obviously Artifacts is a different book than Witchblade, with a somewhat different set of characters. As much as I will absolutely miss writing about Sara every month, I'm excited to move over to Artifacts; it has a bigger cast of characters, and a wider range of stories. In Witchblade we did it as a supernatural-noir-crime procedural stuff, with some of the Top Cow universe mythology woven through it. In Artifacts, we’ll see Jackie Estacado, Sara, Angelus, Tom Judge and a number of other Artifact bearers. Jackie and Sara will be present from time to time, but Tom Judge is the central character for first few arcs of the series.
With Artifacts, I’m able to bring in things from across the Top Cow universe, and show a more comprehensive roster. Doing Artifacts will also play to a lot more of Stjepan’s strengths. He’s best at doing really epic, widescreen-style storytelling, and we weren’t able to do as much of that on Witchblade because that lends itself to more dense storytelling and lots of shadows. There wasn’t much room for me to introduce, say, a flock of dragons attacking a castle in Witchblade, but in Artifacts we have a little more leeway in terms of stories. People who have responded to Stjepan’s work in Witchblade are going to see him cut loose in Artifacts.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!