Ron Marz on Witchblade #171: My Job Is To Make People Care, Then Do Terrible Things

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Sara Pezzini has been shot, but who it is that pulled the trigger is a mystery that only deepened in the most recent issue of Witchblade, #171, the second issue of star writer Ron Marz's anticipated return to the series. There are spoilers ahead, so if you haven't already read it, pick up a copy of the issue at comiXology or Image Comics and read along with us. With Sara separated from the Witchblade and comatose after the shot from a suspiciously Artifact-y bullet, the supporting players in her new life--one that we've barely even begun to know yet--start to see it pulled apart, with her title as sheriff of a small town removed and handed to somebody less competent, but more chummy with the mayor and one of Pezzini's deputies on the cusp of figuring out just what it is that's going on with Sara, by way of a meeting with a new and very different Angelus. Marz joined ComicBook.com to discuss the issue.

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ComicBook.com: It definitely feels like you set a status quo in the first issue only to set it on fire this month. Is that a fair assessment? Ron Marz: The nature of drama is change. We established Sara's new life, and new surroundings, and then turned it upside down. My job is to make people care about the characters ... and then do terrible things to them. ComicBook.com: It certainly seems like the Mayor is eager to replace Sara even if she wakes up. Is there some backstory between them or is it really just as simple as what we've seen so far? Marz: No deep, dark secrets between the Mayor and Sara, but obviously they don't like each other. My wife and I were both newspapers reporters, that's how we met, and we both got a behind-the-curtain look at small-town politics. We certainly saw our share of petty, venal, greedy people in those positions. Beyond that, the Mayor is a vehicle to show that there would still be resistance to a female Sheriff in a lot of places. ComicBook.com: The coloring feels very different this issue. Is that primarily the impact of your collaborators approximating the impact of hospital lighting and the like? Marz: We discussed the hospital lighting quite a bit when our colorist, Betsy Gonia, was approaching those pages. We wanted to strike a balance between that flat hospital light, and a slightly sickly tinge, to match the mood of the scene. I think there's also a natural progression as Betsy and Laura work together more and more, and continue to hone their collaboration.

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ComicBook.com: The lettering feels different, too; almost more frantic, more like a horror book than an adventure/superhero one. Is that a conscious choice? Marz: The lettering is the same as in issue #170, which was a departure from the traditional font and balloon shapes previously used in the series. Our letterer, Troy Peteri, wanted to subtly evolve the lettering, to reflect the series moving ahead to a new time period and a new location. The style is a little rougher, which is a nod to the more supernatural overtones of the series. ComicBook.com: Was there something to cause a two-year jump IN Witchblade or is that something that's established at the end of The Death of Jackie Estacado? Marz: We've yet to see the story of Jackie's death, which was pushed back so that it will be appearing in 2014. We didn't want to give away too much of that story, so we've hinted around Sara's role in it, without revealing everything. Jackie's death was a motivating factor in Sara giving up the Witchblade, so it was a necessary aspect to include in this story. But at the same time, this is Sara's story, so we're moving on with her life. ComicBook.com: The comment that the Witchblade "can't fall into anyone else's hands" immediately sends my Spider-sense a-tingle. Is that a story we could see explored down the line? Marz: Come back for issue #172, you'll see exactly whose hands the Witchblade falls into. ComicBook.com: Is it weird to get to basically pick up right where you left off a little bit here? Sara having just had the memories restored (in the two-years-ago flashbacks) that she lost at the end of your original Witchblade run gives you flexibility to use or ignore Tim's stories pretty much as circumstances dictate, doesn't it?

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Marz: The flashbacks show how and why Sara rid herself of the Witchblade, but it's not a situation of her having her memories restored. We went with this sort of storytelling device, rather than completely linear storytelling, in order give readers a new "ground floor" to jump into the series. Issue #170 had a cold opening -- literally -- so everybody could start fresh. We didn't want knowledge of past events to be a requirement for readers -- that's not welcoming or even fair. ComicBook.com: Will we be seeing more of the flashbacks throughout the first arc? It almost feels a bit like Arrow or Lost, where the flashback is informing the present in subtle ways. Marz: The flashback sequences continue through issue #173, then #174 is the finale of this arc, set completely in the present. ComicBook.com: So, ahh...that doesn't look like Finch at all, which doesn't jive completely with the universe as explained in the back of the book. Marz: Yeah, that doesn't look like Finch, does it? Maybe there's even more to this story...