In 2003, writer /mark+millar">Mark Millar and /jae+lee">Jae Lee introduced The Demon to the “Witchblade” universe in the “Witchblade: Demon” one-shot co-published by Dynamic Forces, Image Comics and Top Cow Productions. Although Witchblade bearer Sara Pezzini sent the Demon to Hell, he’s been stewing in eternal torment for a chance at revenge. Now, over nine years later, “Witchblade” returns to Dynamite Entertainment to give the Demon his chance at revenge. Written by “Lone Ranger” scribe Ande Parks with art by Jose Luis and covers by Dennis Calero, the four-issue “Witchblade: Demon Reborn” miniseries explores what happens when one of the biggest and baddest villains Witchblade has ever sent to Hell comes back to haunt her.
Parks spoke with CBR News about the core concept of “Witchblade: Demon Reborn,” the challenge of tackling Witchblade as a character, the fun in bringing the Demon back from Hell and the overall dark ambiance of the miniseries.
CBR News: Ande, “Witchblade: Demon Reborn” is a sequel to the Mark Miller and Jae Lee “Witchblade” series from back in 2003. What inspired you to revisit this story?
Ande Parks: A message from Dynamite publisher Nick Barrucci! To be honest, I had not read the original Millar/Lee book before Nick asked me about working on this sequel. I was somewhat familiar with Witchblade, but really needed to dive into the character to pitch this new series.
Upon reading the original “Witchblade: Demon” book, I was definitely inspired by the Demon character Mark and Jae had created. He’s a monster. Monsters are fun to write.
Tell us about the core concept of “Witchblade: Demon Reborn.” How does it connect to the Millar/Lee story?
The Demon character has been sent to hell. Now, the bureaucrats of hell give him the chance to come back to earth to torment Sara Pezzini. It’s an opportunity the Demon has no intention of squandering. So, this really is a sequel to the earlier book, but we have a lot more room to play with the conflict between the two characters. The confrontation between Witchblade and Demon was a handful of pages in the Millar book. We’ve got four issues to pit them against each other. The two won’t meet face to face until well into our series, but there’s a lot of cat and mouse stuff going on between them from the get-go. Demon makes for one really messed up, evil cat.
This will be your first time tackling Witchblade, who’s returning to Dynamite for the first time in a long while. What was the challenge in bringing your own voice to the story while still staying true to such an established character?
I don’t think it’s different than writing the Lone Ranger, Green Hornet or any other established character. You’ve got to respect the values and backgrounds of the character while also respecting your own talents. I’m still relatively new to writing, but I’ve been doing it long enough that I trust my own voice. Well… most of the time.
There was plenty of Witchblade material for me to dig into, much of it written by my buddy Ron Marz. The Demon only existed in the twenty or so pages written by Millar, but there was plenty of meat there for me to dig into. It’s been really fun getting to know these characters and then writing their very distinctive personalities.
You mentioned in the press release that you’ll be exploring the burden of the Witchblade on Sara Pezzini. How did you go about exploring the character and how did your experience writing other strong characters help in your exploration?
That comes from Ron’s work on the main “Witchblade” title, and it’s a theme that appeals to me. Being bonded to the Witchblade allows Sara to do a lot of good. It also makes holding onto any normalcy in her life extremely difficult. I also think the dichotomy between Sara’s day job as a detective and the Witchblade’s thirst for “justice” is really interesting. Our story looks at that a lot. Along with the Demon, there’s another reprehensible villain in our story — one that Sara once had a chance to kill as the Witchblade. She chose to “do the right thing,” and now that decision haunts her.
In addition to Sara, fans will get the chance to see one of the baddies she’s sent to Hell come back for a second round. How has the Demon developed while in Hell and what makes his motivation stronger this time around?
The actual demons in charge of dishing out torment in hell have been having fun with our faux Demon. Now, they decide it’s time to have more fun. Demon has been placed in a very interesting and tortuous scenario since he arrived in hell — about a year ago as our story opens. In our first issue, he’s offered a chance to prove himself. The stakes are very high for our Demon. Of course, he wants revenge, but there’s a bigger motivation. How he’s going to spend all of eternity hangs in the balance. He could get promoted to a job in the hierarchy of hell, or he could be cast back into an endless loop of torment.
What kind of obstacles and dangers do you plan on throwing at Sara during the course of the series — both physical and metaphysical?
The first step in the Demon’s plan is to tear Sara’s life apart. To stress her to the point where she is just about losing her grip. Coming back from hell and killing a bunch of folks gets that done pretty quickly. Sara knows that she killed the Demon. And yet, someone is slaughtering the citizens of her city and leaving behind clues that only make sense if the Demon has returned.
Added to all this is the other monster in Sara’s life: the criminal I mentioned above. Between the two, Sara is losing touch with her real life and the people in it: her husband and partner, Gleason, and her young daughter, Hope. By the end of the series, everything Sara loves will be threatened and her connection to her own humanity just hanging by a thread.
This story looks to be pretty dark — but exactly how dark is it compared to some of your other work on, say, “Lone Ranger?”
This book has been fun because I get to play with real world evil, but also with supernatural evil. This book has literal and figurative monsters. I love writing the real old west in “Lone Ranger,” but it’s nice to play for awhile on a bigger stage. In the end, it all comes down to throwing the worst stuff you can think of at your characters and letting them react. It’s cool to have such a wide arsenal from which to choose torments for Sara and her family.
For folks that may be interested in the story but may not be as familiar with “Witchblade” or Millar and Lee’s original tale, how new-reader friendly is this book?
We made sure to cover the past within our story, so I think it’s a very standalone series. Even if we missed a few details, though, the reader will be covered because Dynamite is doing something really cool with our first issue: they’re reprinting the original “Witchblade: Demon” story, but keeping the cover price the same. You get the whole package in this new series.
What are you most looking forward to for the release of this series?
It’s always cool when you finally get to share something you’ve been working on for a few years with readers. This project has been a long time coming, but I think it’s going to be worth the wait. I’m anxious for people to see that I can write stuff that’s a little more out there than the books they may already know me for. I get to write demons and the pits of the hell in this “Demon Reborn” series. Big, over-the-top stuff that I’ve had a lot of fun with. I think that will show in the book.
I also can’t wait for people to see the killer covers by Dennis Calero and the gorgeous interiors by Jose Luis. The stuff I’ve seen from Jose is stellar. He’s gonna knock some socks off.
“Witchblade: Demon Reborn” #1 hits stores in July