Witchblade's Ron Marz and Laura Braga Talk #174's Showdown and Look Ahead to #175

Last month's Witchblade #174 wrapped the first arc from writer Ron Marz and artist Laura Braga, [...]

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Last month's Witchblade #174 wrapped the first arc from writer Ron Marz and artist Laura Braga, kicked off back in Witchblade #170 when the longtime Top Cow scribe returned to the title that has, at this point, featured his name more than any other. As her battle against the Angelus led to finally fully reclaiming The Witchblade, Sara Pezzini set the stage for the next big story along the way to next year's 20th anniversary of the character. Marz and Braga joined us to discuss the issue and look forward to this month's blockbuster Witchblade #175. Reminder: These conversations are spoiler-intensive. If you haven't read Witchblade #174 yet, go buy a copy and then read along with us.

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ComicBook.com: Was using these Western tropes kind of irresistible when you took Sara out of the city and put her into a small town setting? Ron Marz: Definitely, that was something I had in mind from the start of this arc. I wanted to hit on those Western tropes since we were casting Sara in the role of small-town sheriff. Hopefully, the opening sequence has a "High Noon" vibe to it, the classic showdown in the middle of the street. ComicBook.com: Did you intentionally set up some of those panels at the start of the issue in a cinematic way to reflect the kind of Showdown at the OK Corral-style dialogue? Laura Braga: I made the first pages of this issue in a cinematic way following a hint by Ron, to recall the old western movies. It's been fun to watch the reference scenes from those old movies. ComicBook.com: When you're writing an issue that's mostly fighting, is it hard to get enough exposition in there without it seeming weird that they're talking all through the fight? It seems like a balancing act and I know it doesn't always work for everybody (the new Spider-Man movie has a beat like that which makes no sense, although it's nice emotionally). Marz: It's very much a balancing act, and certainly one that I feel like I'm constantly struggling with. It's a fine line to walk. I don't feel like characters blathering on in the middle of an action sequence is natural in any way, but I also want to make sure that the issue isn't a three-minute read. I probably spend more time figuring out the dialogue balance in a fight scene than I do on anything else. Exposition or natural conversation go pretty quickly. But the "action dialogue" is a process of writing and rewriting and rewriting again.

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Sara seems much less conflicted this issue, in terms of her facial expressions. Was that something you talked with Laura about, in terms of her finally coming to the for better or worse" moment? Marz: The emotional payoff of the arc had to be Sara accepting the burden of the Witchblade again. That's really what the entire arc was about, so that had to be the focus, both dramatically and visually. I think Laura excels at ... well, damn near everything, but especially the emotional stuff. She does great expressions, you can really see the inner lives of the characters on their faces. I try to play to that in the scripts as much as possible. ComicBook.com: Sara seems much less conflicted this issue, in terms of her facial expressions. Was that an intentional choice? Braga: Yes, it's been an intentional choice. We've seen an evolution of Sara in this story arc, and in issue #173 Sara was waiting for the Angelus, and preparing to the showdown. In this issue #174 I wanted to show Sara as a strong and determined woman conscious of her role and of her responsibilities.

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How are we to take the mayor's dismissal of Pilcher as an idiot here? Will it change his relationship with Sara at all or is it just an indicator that he's an all-purpose jerk? Ron Marz: The mayor dismissed Pilcher as an idiot because Pilcher is an idiot. It's just that the mayor is enough of an ass to actually say it out loud and not worry about brutalizing someone's feelings. The mayor is concerned about himself ... first, last and always. But he also realizes that Sara is too powerful to have as a dedicated enemy. The next time some supernatural menace shows up, he might need somebody to save his ass. ComicBook.com: Is it safe to assume that we'll be dealing fairly soon with how Jenny came to be the host of the Angelus? Marz: That's a story we're going to tell as part of the next arc. It's something that Betsy Gonia, who is our most excellent colorist, as well as our editor, brought up. She felt like that's a story we definitely need to tell, and I certainly agree, so we'll be tackling that aspect in issue #177 and #178. We're still very much telling Sara's story, so it's a mystery Sara will have to unravel. ComicBook.com: And certainly it seems almost irrelevant who the host is, since the Angelus is clearly much more in control. Is the choice, then, at least in part to throw Sara and some of the other players off their game? Marz: I don't want to say too much, since that's an aspect we'll cover in those issues. But given Sara's history with Jackie Estacado, and Jenny's history with Sara's daughter Hope, you can expect a lot of drama.

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The "you'll need it to resurrect you" panel really seems anime-inspired to me, particularly with the background/foreground non-figure work. Is that a fair assessment? Braga: Now that you make me notice it, I see some similarity with some anime, but it wasn't intentional. In this sequence we see a lot of medium shot panels without backgrounds, close shots or details, so I wanted to make a larger first panel with a background. I'd say that the reference idea, more than the anime, came from those old 2d games, Street Fighter, Tekken.. ComicBook.com: Top Cow has said that you guys are going all-out for #175. Got anything to tease for me? Marz: The "Borne Again" arc was about Sara accepting the Witchblade once again after she had cast it aside. But there's another half to that equation. Sara accepted the Witchblade, but will the Witchblade accept Sara?