Fighting demonic evil is tough work, and following a debilitating injury Top Cow's other superheroine Magdalena is returning with a new series - and hopefully, her successor.
Scheduled to launch March 22 from Image's Top Cow imprint, Magdalena by writers Tini Howard and Ryan Cady, along with artists Christian Dibari and Mike Spicer, aims to show the passing of the torch from in a line of legacy heroes dating back to the biblical characters Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.
But as fans of Top Cow's Magdalena will remember, training has never been a particularly easy thing for the current holder Patience, so how will she face being a teacher?
Newsarama spoke with Howard and Cady about their new series, who exactly this next Magdalena is, and what brought about Patience's decision to hand over the Spear of Destiny.
Newsarama: Tini, Ryan, what's going on in this new Magdalena title?
Tini Howard: We begin with Patience as we know her - or, if you don't, getting a bit of who she was before, and we see something happen to her that changes everything. When that happens, Patience has to make a hard decision: either accept that she can't do the job herself and find help, or resist her own replacement, putting the world in danger from demons. She picks the first one, and that's what the book's about – Patience training the next Magdalena, Maya Dos Santos.
The Magdalena is, if you're not aware, a descendent of Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ. She can wield the spear that pierced his side at the crucifixion and stop evil stuff with it.
Ryan Cady: Tini's answer is pretty solid, but I'd be remiss if I didn't plug the horror aesthetic we're injecting into things. Magdalena has always featured these horror elements, but we're really upping the ante with all the demons and occult imagery - all thanks to our fantastic art team. The action and character development fans enjoyed is all still there, but it's all a little spookier.
Nrama: How would you describe Patience in this series?
Howard: Hurt - in more ways than one. She's having a crisis of faith, a crisis of identity. She's in her early thirties and feeling like she's training her replacement - not a great feeling!
Cady: And to add, a lot of fans are really worried that we're sidelining Patience, or that this is, in effect, no longer her story - to that, I say: The Magdalena is a sisterhood, not a person. This isn't a story just about Patience, but it isn't just a story about Maya, either.
Nrama: And her new prodigy, Maya Dos Santos – who is she?
Cady: Most Magdalenas we've met so far have been raised in convents, or trained since birth - but a bloodline isn't really something that's that easily tracked. Maya's what happens when you meet a Magdalena in the wild.
Howard: Maya is a goth little slacker from SoCal who is bored with existence and wants like, some sort of sign, you know, of like, what she should do? And then she gets a big one.
Nrama: And what are they up against, in the initial arc at least?
Howard: A pop sorcerer with more aesthetic than good sense, but deep, deep ties to the Above and Below. We love him very much. Oh, and tons of demons. That's Christian DiBari and Mike Spicer's forte - Christian draws the best demons in the biz, and Spicer knows the colors of Hell like nobody else.
Cady: We're looking at serious demonic threats in a world that is increasingly secular - Patience has always had friction with the Vatican, but now she's on her own, with this new apprentice, and they're facing some literal Princes of Hell. Not to mention Patience has a serious injury, and Maya is very, very new at this.
Nrama: Patience had a tough time with her own training as Magdalena, under the Inquisiton and Kristof. How does that experience affect how she's training this new, would-be next Magdalena?
Howard: Oooh, this is a Ryan question for sure.
Cady: [Laughs] It's funny - if you read all the older volumes, the Vatican and the Knights of Malta effectively always screwed things up for the Magdalena. All the infighting and scheming and betrayals; they don't last very long. So Patience is really trying to break away from that, and train Maya from experience. In a lot of ways, that's good - she's actually held the Spear and fought with it, so she has practical experience to pass on that her trainers didn't.
On the other hand, "doers" can be really harsh teachers, and it’s hard not to have high expectations - especially when there's demons trying to kill the both of you.
Nrama: How does this fit in with the previous Magdalena stories at Top Cow?
Howard: It's a new volume, which is the best way to describe it. As Volume 4, you absolutely don't have to come in having read volumes one through three. If you do, there will be cool Easter eggs and places of discovery for you. If you don't, you'll hopefully get a peek into a part of comics' past that we've tuned up, plugged in, and turned up to 11. Heavy metal. Hail Satan.
Cady: Tini covered that pretty well. Patience is an active mentor figure here - you can appreciate hers and Maya's relationship and story just fine without having ever picked up the series before. But just cause it's a fresh start, doesn't mean old school fans won't find tidbits and callbacks aplenty.
Nrama: Tini, you won the Top Cow Talent Hunt, and, Ryan you've been working in Top Cow's editorial offices. How did you connect with each other to do a new Magdalena series?
Howard: Ryan and I were fast friends. I don't even know why. He's such a nice boy and I'm such a witch. But we've been talking constantly about all the cool things we'd like to do with Top Cow characters since we met, after I won the Talent Hunt. So we literally became friends because of comics, because we loved each other’s works, and because we wanted to share ideas. So getting to do this together feels inevitable, and it's exactly as great as I wanted it to be.
Cady: Tini's Talent Hunt class was magic - they were all so talented, and a lot of us have become friends. I jokingly call Tini my “comics big sister,” and when I was doing more editorial at Top Cow, I tried to put her on as many projects as possible.
When I got approval from Matt Hawkins to do a new Magdalena book, I knew that I had to have her on board. And I'm so glad! Our story is different in so many ways from what I would've written on my own, and honestly, so much better for it.
Nrama: Next year will be 20 years that Magdalena has been around. What makes this new series fresh, relatable, and modern?
Howard: Christian's art is a huge factor here. We're fans and friends of the previous art teams, but we wanted Christian because this is a horror book. It's about outwardly scary stuff, like demons, and inwardly scary stuff, like failure, aging, being replaced, being in over your head. What I call the real horror. J
We're also really into our main team - this isn't about Patience, or about Maya. It's about a mentor and a student, and that relationship. And it's two women, which doesn't happen often enough, you know?
Cady: Tini covered this one, too. I could harp about how incredible the art team is, and the horror factor that we both alluded to, but I think the only thing worth adding is that Magdalena is a legacy character, and so of course the stories would evolve with the times, while keeping the same spirit. And that's what we're excited to bring to the table.