We live in Bizarro Times, so it kind of makes sense that Top Cow Productions, once known for cheesecake “sexy babe” comics in the Nineties and early Noughties, have transformed themselves. While the Big Two of Marvel and DC stumble from scandal to scandal, Top Cow has, over the last decade at the very least, quietly emerged as one of the more solid and progressive publishers in the industry.
Alongside science fiction staples like Think Tank and Aphrodite IX, Top Cow has ventured into the romance/erotica genre with the release of Stjepan Sejic’s BDSM tale Sunstone. Other upcoming sex-positive books include Swing, which examines open relationships, and Sugar, about the sugar daddy scene. Then there’s Son of Shaolin, a kung-fu epic with a black lead, set in the streets of Harlem. Representation makes business sense, and Top Cow has embraced this mindset. But that’s the topic of a whole other post.
When Top Cow president Matt Hawkins and comics writer Ron Marz attended Cape Town’s FanCon back in April this year, they fielded plenty of questions about Witchblade – one of Top Cow’s signature and most-loved franchises, alongside The Darkness.
Witchblade, if you don’t know (or don’t remember the Yancy Butler TV series), is about New York City cop Sara Pezzini, who finds herself in possession of powerful sentient gauntlet, the Witchblade. For centuries, the Witchblade has chosen women to wield it in the battle against extra-planar evil, and granted its hosts superhuman abilities in the process.
Debuting in 1995, Witchblade was a smash hit for Top Cow. But supernatural action fell out of favour over time as the popularity of costumed heroics surged once again, and the last Witchblade comic released in October 2015. You can’t keep a good demon fighter down though, and now Witchblade is back with an all-new series, starting in early December.
The new comic is significant for two reasons.
Reason One: This is the first time in the franchise’s history that Witchblade is being both written and drawn by women. (For the record, Laura Braga had art duties for a good dozen issues during Ron Marz’s praised run). The new Witchblade comes from writer Caitlin Kittredge (Throwaways, Coffin Hill) and artist Roberta Ingranata (Robyn Hood, Van Helsing vs Frankenstein). Bryan Valenza is responsible for colouring.
Reason Two: There’s a new Witchblade wearer. As mentioned before, the Witchblade chooses its champion much like a Green Lantern’s ring (see also once-off Witchblade spin-off Switch). Sara Pezzini’s time is over in the upcoming series, and it’s now the turn of world-weary journalist Alex Underwood to step up and make sacrifices for humanity’s sake.
Here’s the official plot synopsis:
Gunned down and left for dead on a New York rooftop, Alex Underwood’s life should have ended there—but instead, at the moment of death, she became host to the Witchblade, a mystical artifact that grants the woman wielding it extraordinary powers. But the power comes with a heavy cost, and Alex finds herself thrust into the center of an unseen battle raging on the snowy streets of NYC. Demons are real and walking among humans, and every one of them is intent on taking out the Witchblade’s newest host before she becomes too strong to kill. But the artifact chose Alex for a reason, and she’s not going down without a fight.
And you’ll notice not a skimpy metal g-string in sight!
Fans will miss Sara. Readers know the old spine-snapping covers never did her appealing character justice. This said, the new Witchblade has the potential to be something special. Let’s see what happens with two women wielding its power, as Top Cow takes another positive representational step.
Last Updated: September 21, 2017