Ron Marz is on the side of the angels. Want proof? Just look at the comic books he's got in the pipeline - at Comic-Con International, it was revealed that the acclaimed "Witchblade" scribe will pen an ongoing "Magdalena" series and an "Angelus" miniseries that spins out of the events of "War of the Witchblades." Marz spoke exclusively with CBR News about the two new projects coming out of Top Cow Productions.
Over the course of "War of the Witchblades," Marz has chronicled the bloody feud between Balance-bearers Sara Pezzini and Danielle Baptiste - and while he has plenty of other plans for the series beyond this story-arc, it turns out that "Witchblade" wasn't always Marz's first choice of Top Cow comic books.
"'Magdalena' was actually the first thing I asked to do at Top Cow four or five years ago," the writer told CBR News. "After I did my first gig for the company, which was an arc on 'The Darkness,' they asked me what I wanted to do next. I said, 'Magdalena is really cool - I'd like to do that.' And they said, 'Yeah, great... how about you do Witchblade?' So 50 issues later, I'm still on 'Witchblade' and now we're finally getting around to 'Magdalena.'"
According to Marz, there were a few factors to consider before a "Magdalena" series could come to fruition. "It's been in the works for a while, but it's been a matter of finding the right time in Top Cow's publishing schedule, my schedule, and laying some groundwork with Magdalena guest appearances in books like 'Witchblade' and 'First Born.' We wanted to make sure we got this right. We wanted to make sure that when we did bring out essentially a relaunch of the character, that all our ducks were in a row. As with any character, if you come out and stub your toe on the launch and the audience isn't there for you - if you're not putting your best foot forward - the character has to go back in the drawer for a couple of years before you can try it again."
If Marz's enthusiasm for the character is any indicator, the fans of Magdalena are in good hands when the ongoing series debuts - but new readers should have plenty to look forward to as well. "For my taste, Magdalena is the best concept in the Top Cow stable," Marz declared. "I think it's a really cool concept with the backstory and all the history that goes with it. The previous miniseries that Magdalena has had... what's the best way to say this?... they haven't made complete sense in terms of story. It's been a bit scattershot. What we wanted to do with this series is start with a solid arc that tells you who Magdalena is, what the history is, where she comes from, and obviously where she's headed. We're not going to put the lie to anything that's been in print previously - we're picking up from where the character is right now - but we'll do it in such a way that it's absolutely a ground floor read for somebody who's never been exposed to the character before."
Marz described the Magdalena concept as cyclical in the same nature of other Top Cow properties; just as new men and women are bestowed with the Darkness and Witchblade, so too is the Magdalena mantle a generational tradition. Indeed, there have been many generations of Magdalena bearers, as their bloodline dates back to the days of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.
"The Magdalena is sort of the Catholic Church's monster hunter and demon killer," Marz explained. "It's a very proactive type of character, she doesn't wait around for someone to attack her. She's got the Spear of Destiny and she goes around dealing with things that need to be dealt with, most of the time in a permanent fashion."
The new series will focus on Patience, the current Magdalena. "At the point that we're picking up on Patience, she's actually left the service of the Catholic Church because she's gotten aware that the Church just uses her as a replaceable pawn, rather than valuing her as a person," Marz revealed. "A lot of that stuff was touched on the last time we did a Magdalena story, which was in 'First Born: Aftermath.' Ryan Sook and I did a story that dealt with her coming to grips with having left the church. When we pick her up for this series, that's where she'll be, and obviously the Church isn't terribly happy about her decision. They have to figure out whether they want to replace her or reel her back in."
Marz said that readers who aren't familiar with Top Cow continuity won't have trouble getting into "Magdalena," since the series will stand on its own legs separately from other titles like "Witchblade" and "The Darkness." "The first six issues are pretty much all Magdalena, all the time," Marz confirmed. "We might have a guest appearance in there, but this is really going to focus on the Magdalena concept and Patience as a character, so that by the end of the first arc, the audience will hopefully know the character and want to come back for more."
While Marz was able to speak relatively freely about "Magdalena," it's a lot harder for the writer to discuss his "Angelus" miniseries without spoiling the ending to "War of the Witchblades." It's already been promised that a familiar character will be assuming the Angelus title, though Marz wasn't ready to reveal too much about that person.
"The 'Angelus' mini comes out of the end of 'War of the Witchblades,' obviously," Marz said. "There's going to be a new person in the Angelus role. Obviously it's a character that readers know already, I don't think that's giving away too much. This isn't going to be a completely unfamiliar character, and hopefully this is somebody that the readers will be interested in following in this role. This was always kind of a natural evolution of the storylines we've been doing in 'Witchblade.' There's an established trinity of characters in Witchblade, the Darkness and the Angelus, but the Angelus has always been the redheaded stepchild. It's always been more of a one-note villain for 'The Darkness' or for Sara in 'Witchblade.' We all really felt like this was the best chance we'd have at establishing the Angelus as a viable concept and character on her own. The character really should be on equal footing with 'The Darkness' and 'Witchblade.'"
Given the fact that the star of the "Angelus" miniseries is a familiar face, it would be reasonable to expect that the series could be steeped in continuity - but like "Magdalena," Marz insists that new readers can jump into the miniseries without any prior knowledge of the Top Cow stable. "I know I must sound like a broken record sometimes, but I don't think there's any real value in writing simply for the readers you already have. Miring stories in continuity only serves the people who already know that continuity, not the wider audience. So we're telling a story that sets up a new status quo for the Angelus," he said. "Even though the events in 'War of the Witchblades' are a precursor to what goes on in the 'Angelus' miniseries, it will stand on its own. You won't need to have read anything else for the whole thing to make sense. This is going to be a character who is new to the role of the Angelus, so the intent is to use this miniseries to explore exactly what the Angelus is, how it works. We want to flesh out not only the character who's taking on this role, but also the concept of the Angelus, just as much as the Darkness and the Witchblade have been fleshed out."
As of now, "Angelus" is slated as a miniseries, though Marz said Top Cow would happily pursue it as an ongoing series if the demand calls for it. "We didn't want to throw caution to the wind and say, 'Here's another monthly,'" Marz said. "If the response and sales are there, we'd love nothing better than to make this an ongoing. But certainly the way that the market is in terms of new books, and in particular, new books that aren't from the Big Two, I think it makes a lot more sense to put it out there and test the waters. We'll see what we've got, then move forward with it."
But even if "Angelus" doesn't take flight after the miniseries, Marz suggested that the character would continue to exist in other Top Cow titles. "The Angelus will have a role in both 'Witchblade' and 'Darkness' going forward, though I don't want to say too much of what that role is because it gives some things away," Marz teased. "We've always referred to Witchblade, the Darkness and the Angelus as the Trinity. From this point forward, we want all three sides of that triangle to be as strong, rather than having two strong sides and a weak sister."
Both projects are a number of months away from release - Marz indicated spring 2010 for "Magdalena," while the "Angelus" miniseries will premiere sooner - and the writer remained tight-lipped about his artistic partners on the books. "We don't want to give away everything at once, right? Stay tuned," he said, though he did mention the name of a certain cover artist. "I can tell you that Ryan Sook is going to be a regular cover artist on 'Magdalena.' Everybody was just absolutely blown away by his work on the 'Magdalena' story. We all went, 'Oh! He's the guy!' Thankfully, he's going to clear out enough room in his schedule to do this. To me, he's one of a very small handful of guys at the top of their game right now."
At the end of the day, while Marz is still very much engrossed with his "Witchblade" work, taking on "Magdalena" and "Angelus" offers him a unique opportunity as a storyteller. "As much as I enjoy writing 'Witchblade' - like I said, 50 issues in and I'm still pretty jazzed about the whole thing - one of the things I really enjoy about writing any book is building it from the ground floor up; taking a property and knowing that there's a foundation there, but starting to build the rest of the house," he said. "That's one of the most enjoyable things for me. When you take over an existing book, usually the house is already there and everything's already in place. You're pretty much allowed to move the furniture around and that's it. Something like 'Magdalena' or 'Angelus' has a firm foundation established, but there's a lot of building left to do. That's more exciting. It's more creative. You're establishing a location, a supporting cast, villains. You're getting to build a whole tapestry around your main character."
The Ron Marz-written "Magdalena" ongoing series and "Angelus" miniseries are expected to premiere from Top Cow in 2010. Stay with CBR News for the official launch dates.