Ron Marz: Top Cow Architect, Part 2

From world-spanning event titles to solo character adventures in ongoing and limited series, the Top Cow projects under the guiding pen of Ron Marz cover not only the breadth of the universe he plots the course of but also numerous genres and formats of comic fiction.

First planting his flag in the TC Universe as the writer of "Witchblade," Marz now pens almost every single character residing under the imprint's auspices between the covers of the 13-issue "Artifacts." The title ties together a number of threads Marz has laid down over the years, pitting the thirteen Artifact Bearers against each other with the fate of the world at stake. But besides telling big, event style stories, Marz also takes a more personal look at several of the Top Cow characters outside of the pages of "Artifacts" in their own self-titled series.

Along with his duties on the previously mentioned "Witchblade," whose anniversary approaches with issue #144, Marz pens the recently launched "Magdalena" ongoing. Originally a descendant of Mary Magdalene, the Magdalena serves as the champion of the Catholic Church, with various incarnations existing throughout the years. She wields the Spear of Destiny -- one of the TCU's 13 Artifacts -- and uses her abilities to defend the world and protect the Church from creatures of darkness and Hell.

And as if his plate wasn't full enough, Marz also writes the four-issue "Velocity," winner of the 2007 Pilot Season. Starring the Cyberforce speedster, the miniseries occurs in a "real-time" format, its story playing out over the course of one hour -- the relative time in which she must save herself and her teammates from certain death.

In Part 2 of our interview with the writer, CBR News spoke with Marz about "Magdalena" and "Velocity" and his future plans with both the characters and the titles.

CBR News: Lets start off by talking about about "Magdalena." To clear up some misconceptions some readers may have, it's a ongoing title and not a miniseries.

Ron Marz: "Magdalena" is an ongoing, as long as people are buying it. I know a couple of times, for whatever reason, in the solicits "Magdalena" has been listed as a miniseries or as a 13-issue series. It's an open-ended series as long as we're selling copies. I think some of the confusion came in from some times where there were typos. It's not the 13-issue series. "Artifacts" is the 13-issue series. So, we'll do this for a six-issue arc, catch our breath and keep going.

This first arc is certainly really interesting, introducing new readers to Patience, the current Magdalena. But it also plays with the philosophical question of, "If you met Hilter as a child, could/would you kill him?" But in this case, it's not Hilter, it's the Son of Satan.

I wanted to do more with this series than just showing Patience running around fighting monsters. Even though that's really cool and, hell, as a reader, I'd show up for that, I wanted go with some thornier moral dilemmas. If it turns out the kid really is the Son of Satan and might bring about Armageddon, what do you do? Do you waste him on the off chance that he is the Son of Satan? Or do you take the chance that he isn't? That's really what this whole first arc really turns on. I think doing that in a story where there are demons and there does seem to be a literal Hell is an interesting playing field. If you're telling the audience that that stuff is real, then the possibility that this kid is the Son of Satan seems a little bit more likely.

Looking at the character of Magdalena, what was it that drew you to her as a creator and a fan? Generally speaking, this is a character that's mostly appeared in a supporting role. Why did you want to give Patience her own story?

A few aspects really appealed to me as a writer and as a reader. Sometimes you find stuff that's in your wheelhouse and you just want to run with it. I like the costume -- I love the look of the character -- and the historical context is really appealing. I'm fascinated by the pomp and circumstance of the Catholic Church. I wasn't raised Catholic -- maybe one of the reasons I find it fascinating is because I have this outsider's perspective on it. I was raised sort of Protestant. I look at the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica and the papal history, all of that stuff completely fascinates me in terms of the historical context and the visual context. It's these huge historical things that everybody knows about and I really enjoy touching on those things that are an aspect of this story.

Beyond this first arc, what can you say about the stories you plan on telling about the Magdalena?

Again, I don't want to do monster-of-the-week type stories all the time. I do want to do some of those, because I think they can be a lot of fun. I want to deal with questions of faith in one way or another in the series because it does have a religious aspect. The main character literally serves the Catholic Church, albeit unwillingly and somewhat suspiciously. This isn't by any means a religious comic book, but organized religion is an aspect of it. So, I want to deal with that kind of stuff and put the main character in situations where she questions either her own faith or the motivations of the church that sends her out to do these things. I find the human frailties, and even human foibles, that you see in the history of the Catholic Church to be pretty interesting. Folks have had wives and mistresses and illegitimate children. All of that stuff, I think, is grist for the mill. You tell some of these stories about "men of God" as characters, and I think often, the man part takes precedence of the God part, if you know what I'm saying. I think that's really intriguing. And I think there's also interesting story fodder in a woman serving in some way a very male dominated hierarchy.

When it comes to the Magdalena, there exists a long line of people that have held this title, an aspect similar to the Witchblade and the Darkness. Every now and then, in those series, there are stories that focus on these previous bearers and what their life was like. Is this something you might want to do in "Magdalena?"

Oh yeah. I'd love to. I'd love to do some historically based sequences, or even full issues when the opportunity allows. I think right now I want to concentrate on Patience and flesh out her character as much as possible for at least the first year of the book -- make her as much of a leading character as Sara or Jackie is because I think she's absolutely worthy of it. But after that, after we get people comfortable with Patience and feeling like they know her, I can certainly see taking an issue and exploring something that happened 200 or 300 years ago. We have seen some various incarnations of the Magdalena and I'd certainly like to explore some other ones.

Before we run over to "Velocity," one last thing I want to touch one is, even though "The Darkness" is supposed to be an "evil" artifact, Jackie himself is a gray character. In fact, a lot of the Top Cow characters fall into that sort of moral area. How do you see Patience in this regard?

I think Patience, to my mind, she's one of the few characters in the Top Cow Universe who really almost falls completely into the "good" category. Most of the other characters -- Jackie and Dani and even Sara -- everybody is actually gray. Everybody has been involved in deeds you can consider good and most have been involved with things that wouldn't really fall into that category. Patience really is the greatest fan to innocence because she really hasn't been exposed to the world that much. In issue #7 and #8, we'll get to see a bit of that as she gets a little bit of freedom and gets involved in the world a little bit more than she has been. So, she's one of the few good guys that's really on the side of right. I think the first story arc will hopefully show that in more specific terms. She's the one who wants to do the right thing, even when maybe not everybody around her has the same motivation, whether they're the good guys or the bad guys.

Now, "Velocity" comes to a close in one more issue. Yet, the previous issue ended in a way that sort of leaves the reader with the sense of, "How the heck is there more here? Her head just got cut off!"

[Laughs] She did indeed get her head cut off, and that's all I'm going to tell you. That was planned from day one, so all the pieces of what's been going on fit together for the fourth issue. Again, this isn't something that I'm making up as I go.

What does this mean? When the series ends, is that it for the character?

Well, she got her head cut off so, I don't know how much I'm going to be able to deal with her.

I think the best way to put it is that I absolutely adore writing Velocity. Certainly, I adore writing Velocity at any point, and I absolutely adore writing Velocity when Kenneth Rocafort is drawing her. Kenneth is just a genius artist and one of the nicest guys I know. I feel absolutely blessed to be working with him on the series. The series wouldn't be what it is without him. We'd be telling the same story, but it wouldn't be told in the manner in which Kenneth is doing it. So, I guess without really ruining what's going on, I would love to write more Velocity in the future if the opportunity presents itself. She's certainly among my two or three favorite characters.

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