The Witchblade has chosen another... but she might not be ready for what’s to come. Alex Underwood was a journalist assumed the mantle after being gunned down and left for dead. Now, thrusted into a battle in the unseen world of demons and monsters among us, Alex fights the forces of darkness as the Witchblade for a new generation of demons and unholy creatures.
Top Cow's recently relaunched Witchblade ended its first arc with June's #6, so now Newsarama is talking to series writer Caitlin Kitredge and artist Roberta Ingranata about the beginning of "Good Intentions" with August 8's Witchblade #7. The duo explain how Alex differs from the former bearers Sara Pezzini and Dani Baptiste, the trauma Alex takes with her, as well what lies ahead for the new bearer of the Witchblade.
Newsarama: Okay, Caitlin, Roberta, Alex Underwood hasn't had the Witchblade for that long but she's getting the idea of what's going on. Where is she by the end of Witchblade #6, which wrapped up your first arc?
Caitlin Kittredge: This particular issue is the culmination of everything that's happened since Alex became the Witchblade - she faces off against the body-jumping demon she's been chasing, she learns some unpleasant truths about her friends and her foes, and we get a bigger slice of her past and the tragedy and survival instinct that shaped her into the Witchblade's perfect host. And there's a full-blown, no holds barred demon vs. Witchblade brawl, which is always fun.
Roberta Ingranata: For Alex, the Witchblade was a tortuous road to go. For us, readers and fans, who knew already the Witchblade’s powers, was unusual that Alex not to be using them immediately in issue one. For Alex, the Witchblade has been a personal challenge, a mysterious discovery that has a long way to go, crowded with lots of demons...inner and supernatural.
The new arc will be more focused on Alex, she will expanding her knowledge of the Artifacts. We’ll see the armor more often, and she will fight with new enemies. Johnny, Alex’s first love, will play a fundamental role throughout role in the next issues, so we will see Alex fight even emotionally.
Nrama: What do you think is Alex's biggest parallel between her and Sara or even Dani? What do you think is her biggest difference?
Kittredge: All three of them are incredibly strong women forged in the fire of their pasts - they all have different trauma, different loss and different sources of strength but they're all consummate survivors with iron wills. If there's one major difference in Alex, I'd say it's that she's a little closer to the darkness in her past, the nerves are a little more raw--she puts others first and helps everyone before herself, and because of that she still has rough edges that haven't healed from events we've seen in the book thus far, like her being kidnapped as a child and surviving an IED attack in Afghanistan.
She's a very fast learner and a very tough woman but she's new to this world and she's going to stumble a few times before she finds her feet - but because of that I hope our readers can see something of themselves in her.
Ingranata: Sara, Danielle, and Alex are three women with different personalities and characteristics that interpret the power of the Witchblade in a personal way according to their nature, but what they have in common is the courage and the ability to do the right thing in the right moment.
Nrama: It's the end of your first arc here, how do you feel about it and if you've grown as creators?
Kittredge: This has been an incredible experience - Witchblade and the Top Cow Artifact universe were one of my bucket list comics to work on when I was a baby writer. I am still in awe that Marc Silvestri, Matt Hawkins, and Eric Stephenson at Top Cow/Image not only invited me to oversee the relaunch of the title, but trusted me to take the reins and really go for it. When I was invited to pitch I told myself it was go big or go home, that I wouldn't get a chance like this again, so I set up a story that was a huge sea change from what had come before, while still retaining the core of what makes the Witchblade THE WITCHBLADE.
I feel like I've really grown into telling a story in a big, epic shared universe versus playing in my own little sandbox with my creator-owned titles. And I feel like me, Roberta, Bryan, and Troy have totally gelled as a creative unit - every issue blows me away with the visuals, and I can't wait to explore the wider Artifact-verse going forward.
Ingranata: Absolutely yes. It was a great personal and team experience. I can't wait to start the second arc!
Nrama: Do you have plans for Witchblade alumni making cameos in the near future or are you more focused on Alex having her own crew?
Kittredge: The cast we lovingly refer to as Team Witchblade will still be Alex's core support going forward, but we're going to introduce plenty more types of monsters, new antagonists and new allies in future books. And rest assured, I have been campaigning with the powers that be to have some familiar faces show up in the book, so we'll see!
Nrama: Roberta, can you talk about the inspiration behind these demon designs?
Ingranata: Demons are a possession, but also shadows within us, our insecurities. I wanted to draw them like dark tendrils, the concrete form of demon's powers. The same was for the armor: I tried to create a design that was the fusion of two worlds, the past and the present. I wanted to create a clear reference to past but with less details, more modern and minimalist. Just like our world today, our dress and furniture. I asked myself if today, I had the Witchblade, how would I transform myself? And here's the armor; simple, practical, clean, dark, strong.
Nrama: So the first trade comes out July 11, then a new arc begins with August's Witchblade #7. Do you think that schedule that should be more embraced? Give readers a month to catch up and then they can jump on?
Kittredge: Yup, barring some cosmic disaster, when we say monthly title we mean it - with a break at the end of each "season" or arc for the trade, so if you're into binge reading you can catch up!
Nrama: With “Life After” finished, we have the “Good Intentions” arc announced, what lies ahead for Alex and company?
Kittredge: I call this our "with great power comes great responsibility" arc - Alex has learned the ropes of using the Witchblade and what her purpose in wielding it is, but there's so much more she's not aware of yet, wheels within wheels of the supernatural world, with cosmic consequences. “Good Intentions” pulls back another curtain, and we delve one level deeper into what sort of storm is on the horizon that caused the Witchblade to find a new host here and now.
Alex will face up to the fact that she really is one of the barriers against unimaginable darkness on earth, and that it carries heavy costs in the human life she's worked so hard to protect. This is a perfect second arc for our take on Witchblade, and it's just the kind of story I like writing most - revealing a little slice of the mythos, a lot of character development, and a big helping of Alex ganking demons and monsters. Should be fun!