When Lady Death moved over to CrossGen almost two years ago, a major shift happened with the character. In an effort to appeal to a more mainstream audience, Brian Pulido re-imagined the character, setting her in a medieval fantasy world with a new origin, characters and mission. It was a radical transformation for the character. The series, "Lady Death: A Medieval Tale," surprised a lot of people who weren't fans of the original Lady Death and quickly the series found a new audience.
With the demise of CrossGen Comics, a new home needed to be found for Lady Death. As we reported back in July, that new home would be made at Avatar Press. With the property now set up at the new publisher, news came of not one, but two versions of the character to come. One series would star the original Lady Death that started it all with a second series continuing the adventures of Medieval Lady Death. Next February sees the first issue of "Mediveal Lady Death" hit stands, the beginning of a new monthly series that picks up where "Lady Death: A Medieval Tale" left off. CBR News spoke with Lady Death's creator Brian Pulido to find out what he has in store for the character.
"For those of you who are new to Medieval Lady Death, imagine the mood and tone of 'Lord of The Rings,' but picture the main (anti)-heroine a powerful, pale skinned woman and her enemies, ancient magical beings called The Eldritch, who use spells to thwart human warrior knights," said Pulido. "It feels like a fantasy, but it is unlike any fantasy story ever published.
"In this version of the Lady Death saga, she hones her anger and uses it for the better of mankind, even though she is an outsider condemned and feared by those she has sworn to protect."
For those who didn't follow the original CrossGen series, no worries. The first issue contains an in-depth recap of the first series that will bring any new reader up to speed. For those looking for a bit more detail, trade paperback versions of "Lady Death: A Medieval Tale" are on the way in the coming year in two volumes.
"I want to emphasize that the re-cap doesn't bog down the story," said Pulido. "Medieval Lady Death has been out of the marketplace for over a year. This story hits the ground running, but I don't want to leave anyone behind, so I felt the need to recap a bit. I'm doing it for new readers, as well as readers who may have forgotten some of what the story is about.
"For readers who are up to date, I present the re-cap from a wacky character's point of view, so the truth is 'bent' a bit to that character's twisted world view."
"Medieval Lady Death" #1 sees the return of all the central characters readers got to know in the first series. Hope, Wolf, Tvarus, Greelum, Char and others all make their return along with a cast of new characters. Puldio brought readers up to speed on what to expect from the cast of "Medieval Lady Death."
"One new character is actually an old one," said Pulido. "Henry Heinman, the man who murdered Lady Death's mother, strikes a deal with an angel (or so he believes). He gets the power to wield fire and he plans to use it to finish off Lady Death.
"We'll get to know Arch Bischop Vittorio Tedesco Zamarano much better. He behaves like he's for the people, but he's for himself first. Lady Death refuses an invitation to join him, so to save face, he outlaws her.
"The wee-people, the Greelum, are obsessed with jewels and anything shiny, so Char of the Greelum is obsessed with Lady Death's sword, Blackheart. He convinces the Greelum to get it.
"Tvarus, former leader of the Eldritch, has done the impossible: he has escaped a Welf Hole prison. As such, he demands to be re-instated to his former lot in life. His brother Thorm, the new leader, doesn't see it that way. Revolution is in the air.
"All these story-lines mix and converge and build to a climax by issue #4."
There are a lot of developments to come for our two main heroes, Hope, also know as Lady Death, and Wolf, her teacher.
"Lady Death is stubborn. She forgets that she has a lot to learn and that sometimes her behavior, namely her anger, is actually a detriment in a battle. Wolf knows that she has great, but unrefined power, but he also realizes that it is making her lazy. She figures she can get pissed off, use her powers and she will beat her enemies. This almost gets her killed a few times in this series.
"She will come to realize that she doesn't know it all, that Wolf has her best interest at heart, and she has a lot to learn. How that happens, I'm not telling."
Pulido is well ahead with his writing chores, having already turned in the first five issues and mapped out the first year of Medieval Lady Death's return to comics.
"The first story arc deals with Lady Death becoming a student again - out of necessity," said Pulido. "She really messes up and learns a big lesson, but I'm not sure she will remember it. She has a strong leadership streak, but it isn't coming in handy when she is supposed to be a student.
"The second arc has her Eldritch powers failing her, back-firing on her actually. There is a lot she doesn't know about being half-Eldritch. What are the customs? What are the rites and rituals? Precautions must be taken before an Eldritch uses their powers. She doesn't know a bit about this stuff - and it will cost her big.
"She has Wolf to train her in the art of combat, but she needs another mentor to teach her how to harness her powers. She seeks one out so she can finally deal with her supernatural Eldritch side. But is it too late for her?"
When "Lady Death: A Medieval Tale" finished its twelve issue run at CrossGen, Puldio followed it up with a second series, "Lady Death: The Wild Hunt." The series, which took place a year after the events in "A Medieval Tale," was never completed due to the collapse of CrossGen. Pulido told us back in July that he didn't have a great time writing "The Wild Hunt," but ultimately was satisfied when he finished writing the series.
"In my career I have not written much with editorial edicts," admitted Pulido. "'The Wild Hunt' was me honoring a request by CGE to 'take it up a notch.' We jumped ahead a year and I think the story suffered from the disconnect.
"All that being said, I wrote all six issues and really liked how they turned out. I think the fans would have dug them. There were some cool twists and turns there."
With the events of "Medieval Lady Death" taking place directly following "A Medieval Tale," readers don't have to worry about not having read the never completed "The Wild Hunt."
Pulido is actively writing tales for both versions of Lady Death, but isn't playing any favorites. He also gave us a few hints as to what we can expect from the original Lady Death coming next Summer.
"I tend to like what I'm working on at the moment best," said Pulido. "So that means I've liked both best this month. In October I laid out what I call my story design document for the 'Classic' Lady Death series that we are launching next summer. I had some challenges there, we want it to be fresh, new and revolutionary, just like it was the first time we put out 'Lady Death.' However, we didn't want to loose the emotional core of the character or the push-and-pull of evil forces that drive her.
"To kick this into gear, I created many entirely new characters, settings and relationships. Lady Death's look and attitude remain the same, the over-the-top, boobs and blood approach to the book remains the same, the essence of her origin remains the same, but from there I took liberties that I think new and existing fans will dig.
"If you saw the preview we have out, you'll meet two characters Lady Death travels with in the Blacklands: Wargoth and Satasha. Wargoth is a mentor character for Lady Death, but where Wolfram von Bach is a caring mentor for Medieval Lady Death, Wargoth is hard to read. He tends to throw Lady Death directly into trouble. Is he shaping her with trials by fire or does he really want her to fail? He's brutal for sure.
"Satasha is an adept spell-caster from the southern coast of the Blacklands. She doesn't have the raw, natural talent for magic that Lady Death has, but she's maximized her ability and she's there to teach Lady Death. She is not as nearly as worldly as Wargoth.
"I've mentioned the Blacklands twice and that's where our fist story arc is set. Lady Death renounces her humanity - due to reasons revealed in the book - and is sent to the Labyrinth.
"The Blacklands is one of many stacked realms in the Labyrinth. It is a god awful, dangerous place filled with monsters, creatures, ancient evils, liars, thieves. If it's bad, it's there.
"Look at it this way, I did the bulk of my 'research' while following Ozzfest this summer with my good buddy Jaymz owner of JC'S Comic Stop in Toledo, Ohio (it's a great shop, people. Well worth traveling to.). We saw the finest line up of bands ever on Ozzfest and I let the music influence my direction. It is dark, brutal and unforgiving - unlike Medieval Lady Death which aspires to the heroic ideal."
While on the surface "Medieval Lady Death" may look and appear to be just a fantasy/magic comic, at its core the book is an adventure comic first that's based in a fantasy/medieval universe.
"Most of the best fantasy involves adventures and quests. That way a character can learn something along the way and grow. Lady Death, whether it is the Classic or Medieval version, has always been a questing character, she is always learning lessons, making mistakes. Having highs and lows.
"Critics of the Classic version rarely reached beyond her physical appearance. They didn't see what the loyal readers knew: that her stories were and are adventures of a woman questing to learn about herself and her place in the world.
"Another reason there is plenty of adventures in Lady Death comics is because that is what I love to read and watch. I'm not one for talky, complicated stories. I like simple stories with passionate characters that have life or death missions."
While at CrossGen, the Lady Death series were edited by Barbara Kesel, who's back for "Medieval Lady Death.
"Barbara is great. She helped on every aspect of the story from the general outline to making sure the dialogue sounds authentic to the time (without being too stuffy). She knows the 'Medieval Lady Death' characters as well as I do.
"Since I'm used to writing over-the-top stuff, Barbara is really good at pointing out moments where a character may have a reaction to something that I may not have seen."
Art for "Lady Death: A Medieval Tale was provided by the very talented Ivan Reis, who wowed fans with dynamic pages filled with incredible detail. For the new series, artist Di Amorim will handle the art chores with colors coming from Greg Waller at Nimbus Studios, who's working hard to keep the same organic feel found in the original series.
"We are looking to 'Lady Death: A Medieval Tale' #1-4 & #6 as our style guide. Not only was Ivan Reis the artist, he was the series designer. We developed the approach together.
"There are some natural differences at the moment. Di Amorim is adapting well. He tends to draw Lady Death a little on the cute side. I prefer her to be ravishing, like Nicole Kidman compared to Elisha Cuthbert. At the same time, he's a very dynamic artist.
"[Di Amorim's] willing to do a lot of work. He draws the backgrounds, he researches his subject, he's a total pro and hits his deadlines. He worked with me on 'Unholy' and knocked that one out of the park. He's a guy to watch and ee have big plans for him at Avatar."
"Down the line, the second story arc is being drawn by Wellington Alves, a new artist who really captures Ivan Reis' style. Wellington's working with us on a Medieval Lady Death statue design and he captures her beautifully."
In the next year, Pulido and Avatar have big things planned for Lady Death. There will be statues, prints, t-shirts, bar ware (beer mugs, shot glasses, etc.), holiday ornaments in late 2005 and a few other surprises. "Next summer, Medieval Lady Death will have a crossover with… well, it is a bit early to tell," teased Puldio.
In addition to writing comics, Puldio's dabbled in the world of film. Through his production company Eternal Entertainment LLC, Puldio wrote and directed the short horror film "There's Something out There" which has been selected for 13 film festivals and won four awards. Since then he's finished a horror screenplay called "Wake Up Dead" and is co-writing another screenplay with New York Times Best Selling author Michael A. Stackpole.
An in typical Pulido fashion, he finished out our chat with yet another teaser of things to come. "I have a new script assignment from Avatar that is so cool that when we announce, it will knock readers socks off. No kidding!"