Witchblade and Red Sonja definitely have a few things in common. They're both comic book characters who have been adapted to live-action media (Red Sonja a 1985 film; Witchblade a 2001-2002 TNT series). They both have origins steeped in magic and mysticism. And they both tend to not wear a lot of clothes.
Still, a crossover between the two doesn't necessarily feel like the most natural of choices, if for no reason other than Top Cow's Witchblade series typically takes place in present-day New York City, while Red Sonja is traditionally seen in an archaic fantasy environment.
The two characters meet in Dynamite's five-issue Witchblade/Red Sonja miniseries, debuting in February 2012. Newsarama talked with writer Doug Wagner about bringing the characters together, avoiding crossover clichés and working with artist Cezar Razek.
Newsarama: Doug, last time you spoke with Newsarama was just about a year ago. How has the past year gone for you, and what makes Witchblade/Red Sonja the right project for you at this juncture? (Also, is there an update on World of Warcraft: Horde?)
Doug Wagner: It’s been a fantastic year. Since we last talked, I’ve seen the release of I.C.E. from 12-Gauge Comics, 3.5 million copies of my Justice League comic distributed as the prize in cereal boxes, and now the announcement of the Witchblade/Red Sonja crossover. Yeah, I’d say that’s a good year.
The Witchblade/Red Sonja crossover is the perfect opportunity at the perfect time for me. Over the past several years, I’ve written books for Image Comics, 12-Gauge Comics, and the licensing guys over at DC Comics, but I haven’t worked on a title that has given me the exposure to my comic peeps that Witchblade/Red Sonja will provide. Career-wise, it just seems like the next logical step. And I’m doing my best not to waste this opportunity. I’ve been putting in some serious hours in an attempt to deliver a series that I hope fans will enjoy.
As far as my World of Warcraft: Horde graphic novel, I can tell you that we’re almost done. Jheremy Raapack is on the home stretch of his amazing pencils. I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes up this month, and I’m finishing up dialogue touch ups as we speak. I haven’t been given a release date yet, but I expect an announcement real soon.
Nrama: Witchblade and Red Sonja both have a lot of history in the medium, but going into this series, how familiar were you personally with the two characters?
Wagner: I was fairly familiar with both characters. I’ve followed the works of Ron Marz and Michael Avon Oeming for some time, so I tend to pick up their work when I get the chance. As you know, Ron’s been writing Witchblade for over 5 years, so that’s been on my pull for some time. His work and his assistance have proven invaluable to this series. I was introduced to Red Sonja when I noticed at a con that Oeming had written the third trade — "The Rise of Kulan Gath." Oeming’s always had a great sense of storytelling and in this trade, he didn’t disappoint. I’ve been a fan of Red Sonja ever since.
Nrama: The initial press release for Witchblade/Red Sonja stressed how this was not a "typical crossover." In what ways are you avoiding familiar crossover tropes?
Wagner: The big one I wanted to avoid was the most obvious to us comic folk — "The two heroes fight until they find someone else to beat on." I was lucky that everyone involved in the project wanted to stay away from that particular trope. It sure made my life easier not having to defend my case. I also wanted to stay away from two other familiar tropes — the cataclysmic, multi-dimensional event that merges the heroes' universes and the archenemies deciding the only way they'll be free of their respective heroes is to join up and crush them together. Of course, that meant coming up with a new approach. That decision didn’t make my life painless.
Nrama: Despite certainly having some surface similarities, Witchblade and Red Sonja ultimately seems like somewhat of an odd pairing — what brings the characters together in your story?
Wagner: On the surface of the story, a common villain brings them together. However, if you dig a bit deeper, you’ll find the two characters are brought together by their love of family and their primal urge to exact justice. And when you get down to it, aren’t those the two aspects that truly drive real heroes?
Nrama: And once they are together, what makes them an interesting pairing? How do you characterize the dynamic between the two?
Wagner: Although they share the same foundation as heroes, they go about exacting justice in two different ways. Sonja’s more direct, an ass-kicker that won’t stop once she’s set on a path. Sara is by far more subtle and tends to tread carefully.I honestly see Sonja as the embodiment of a weapon. She has the attitude and temperament of a finely sharpened sword. She doesn’t necessarily need a weapon, she is a weapon. Sara is more of the classic detective. She solves cases by using a variety of tools. One of those tools just happens to be one of the most dangerous weapons on Earth. Sara and Sonja are vastly different, and if they met up at the local coffee shop, I doubt they’d be friends. However, if you can figure out a way to get them headed in the same direction, watch out!
Nrama: Cezar Razek is on art for the series. How has collaborating with him been thus far?
Wagner: Cezar’s amazing. He’s translating my scripts to the page with storytelling perfection. He’s been flexible, easy to work with, and focused on doing his best work. What I love about working with him is Cezar takes the time to understand what I’m attempting to achieve on each page. The byproduct of this understanding is an actual enhancement of the entire story. Being on the same page story-wise makes the entire collaboration shine even more. Plus, he draws some of the hottest women in comics.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!