One can't walk the road to "Artifacts" without Patience. No, really.
Better known to the Top Cow herd as the current Magdalena, Patience is a warrior woman that comic book scribe Ron Marz describes as the Catholic Church's monster hunter. She's also the wielder of the Spear of Destiny, one of thirteen deadly Artifacts carried by certain characters within the Top Cow Universe including Sara Pezzini (Witchblade), Jackie Estacado (The Darkness), Danielle Baptiste (The Angelus) and Tom Judge (Rapture). It's an object that will most assuredly come into play during "Artifacts," the July-launching 13-issue limited series written by Marz and illustrated by a team of artists including Michael Broussard. CBR News spoke with Marz and Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik to learn more about Patience, the Spear of Destiny and their mutual roles in the forthcoming series.
"Magdalena, like the Angelus, the Darkness and the Witchblade,Â is a cyclical character, in that the role of the Magdalena is filled by someone new with each generation," Marz told CBR of the concept of the Magdalena. "With Magdalena, it could be even more than once per generation, because they have a short life expectancy, shall we say - hazards of the job. She's essentially the Catholic Church's monster hunter and assassin, if need be. All of the women who have worn this mantle are descended from the line of Christ and Mary Magdalene, which I suppose is a blasphemous idea and one that sells some really bad, poorly written commercial novels. The idea of Christ and Mary Magdalene having had children...is certainly nothing new, but this character, to me, puts that theory in a really interesting setting."
Currently wearing the mantle of the Magdalena is Patience, an orphan sent forth by the Catholic Church to track down monsters and carry out all sorts of supernatural tasks. Recently, Patience has grown skeptical of the Church's methods and has left the organization to continue operating as the Magdalena on her own accord.
"Patience is a character that has been guided repeatedly by what she believed to be the right thing to do within her own moral code," said Filip Sablik of the character. "At times, she has been opposed to Jackie Estacado. At times, she's fought with him. Same thing with Sara Pezzini and some of these other characters in the Top Cow Universe. Yes, she's one of our main protagonists, but with all of these characters, I don't know that you could immediately look at any of them and say that you know which side they're going to fall on.
"I think she's got a lot of themes that resonate throughout the Top Cow Universe," he continued. "One of those themes is, 'what does this mantle mean?' She's been given the mantle of the Magdalena and the elders of the Church are telling her what that means and they're telling her that she has to be this. Her journey is ultimately, in my mind, a journey of discovering what is faith versus religion and what's the right thing versus the wrong thing. Can I still serve the office without necessarily serving the people who claim to be in charge of the office?"
Although the Church isn't happy about Patience's newfound disobedience, there's little the hierarchy can do to stop her - after all, she is in possession of the Spear of Destiny, one of the thirteen deadly Artifacts lurking about the Top Cow Universe. Although the Spear is capable of great power, Marz said there are some major distinctions between this Artifact and many of the others, including the Witchblade, Darkness and Angelus.
"The Spear of Destiny has a historical component to it - it's a specific historical object," he explained. "Whether you believe there's an actual Spear of Destiny or not, everybody knows the story of the spear that pierced Christ's side as he was up on the cross. That's quite a different take than the other Artifacts. Most of the other Artifacts have a history that's only within the Top Cow Universe and aren't really seen as historical objects. Most of them have a history that dates back much further than the year 33 B.C., so that's something else that's going to play into the storyline of 'Artifacts.' Why do a couple of these things seem to be relatively new compared to the others? The Witchblade has been around for millennia, and the Darkness and the Angelus have been around since the literal creation of the universe. How come some of these things appear to be relatively recent, comparatively?"
The relative newness of the Spear is a question that readers will want to ponder going into "Artifacts." For now, fans can enjoy Patience's adventures in the pages of "Magdalena," the recently launched ongoing series from Marz and illustrator Nelson Blake II. The second issue hits stands later this month. While the creative minds at Top Cow are quite happy with how "Magdalena" is progressing, Sablik admitted that the character hasn't been without some birthing pains over the years.
"Magdalena is a character that everybody here at Top Cow agrees has massive, massive amounts of potential," said Sablik. "She's interesting both visually and from an origin standpoint, but I don't think we've ever really gotten it right, if I'm going to be honest. I think we've never quite lived up to that expectation and that potential and I think we're pretty darn close right now. I think we've figured out who she needs to be. That's not meant to be disrespectful towards the other great creators who have worked on the character in the past, but I think the type of story we're telling now with Patience is really pretty compelling."
"Artifacts" #1, written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Michael Broussard, launches on July 21, 2010. Tune into CBR every week leading up to the issue's release for further insight from Marz and Sablik.