Sara Pezzini is rough, tough and brandishes an ancient weapon of crazy supernatural power.
And now she's getting a new writer.
Hack/Slash creator Tim Seeley takes the reins of the Top Cow series Witchblade beginning with issue 151 (out Oct. 26), stepping in for Ron Marz, who is departing for an upcoming title with artist Stjepan Sejic. Kato duo Diego Bernard and Fred Benes have been tapped as the new pencil-and-ink team.
"I've been doing the book Hack/Slash for seven years, and it being full of attractive ladies who fight monsters and magical stuff indicated that I might be able to do such a gig," Seeley says.
With the crossover miniseries Artifacts ending on Oct. 5 and bringing lots of changes to the Top Cow universe in its wake, Witchblade is switching up its creative team as well as other aspects of the series. Pezzini is still the bearer of the mystical Witchblade, but the former Manhattan cop will now be located in Chicago. One other change that's fortunate for fans: Issue prices are being lowered to $2.99.
Seeley feels the transition from Marz's 80-issue run to his will be an easy one for readers, but Top Cow publisher Filip Sablik is looking forward to his new writer shaking things up.
"Tim brought enthusiasm, fresh ideas and a real DIY attitude to the table, which made him the perfect choice to follow Ron," Sablik says. "He was eager to build on what Ron had built, but also continue to evolve the series in new directions."
Seeley is also shifting genres with his take on Witchblade. While Marz's run was more of a horror-tinged police procedural, Seeley's will be dark fantasy with a hint of crime noir.
Artifacts and recent issues of Witchblade have continued to establish and deepen the Top Cow universe, so much so that Seeley wants to move away from it for a while. "It's going to give me a chance to give her a new rogues gallery in a new location. My interest in it is more to add to the mythology than to dig up what's been done already," he says.
She'll have a new hometown, a new job and a bunch of new supporting characters, Sablik adds. "But one thing will remain constant: Sara Pezzini will continue to be one of the strongest female comic characters, and the Witchblade is definitely going to continue acting as a 'weirdness magnet' in Sara's life."
And so far Seeley digs writing one of Top Cow's top superheroines.
"She's an unmarried, thirtysomething woman living in Chicago now and doing a job that's not traditionally done by women. Those aspects of the story are my favorite ones to write," he says.
"People tend to think of the book as about bikinis and tiny outfits and exploiting the Witchblade body. We're going to do a little bit of that, but it'll be more about the character and being a detective."
Seeley himself created a strong female figure in Cassie Hack, one-half of the slasher/killer/monster-hunting duo of the Image Comics series Hack/Slash alongside her large gas-masked partner, Vlad. Yet both she and Sara are very different, and after writing Cassie for seven years, Seeley says he constantly has to remind himself of that.
"Finding Sara's voice and how she would be different than Cassie was probably the toughest part about starting to write this series," Seeley says. "The stuff that really helps with having done Hack/Slash for so long is just having the confidence to dive into it. I know I'll come up with crazy stuff, and I'll have good reasons for all the crazy stuff I throw at people."
The key to finding Sara's voice for Seeley was digging into an early Witchblade issue illustrated by one of its co-creators, the late Michael Turner.
In one scene, Sara walks into her apartment, and there are Reservoir Dogs movie posters on the walls. While Seeley thinks that part of it was just Turner thinking they'd be cool to draw, the art also told him a lot about who she was.
"She is the kind of woman that wants to be a cop and also loves Tarantino films and could beat you in a drinking game," says Seeley, who picked up from Marz her penchant for Chinese takeout and other qualities of stereotypical male cops in action movies, such as Sylvester Stallone in Cobra.
"Cobra goes home to his apartment and eats cold pizza crusts. Applying that to this dainty, beautiful female character was kind of a fun twist."
And fans of Hack/Slash need not worry. Seeley promises he's staying on that title and has exciting plans for that book, too. "I'll have my double dose of writing hot girls with weapons every month."