Comic Vine talks to Ron Marz about Broken Trinity, Witchblade, Green Lantern and other goodies
Comic Vine: You and Stjepan Sejic are working on Broken Trinity and Witchblade (until at least issue 150), what's it like seeing your stories with his art? It's almost scary how lifelike it can look.
Ron Marz: Well, I wouldn't have signed onto the book through 2010 if I didn't really dig what Stjepan was doing. It's a collaboration I'm really happy with. I know I can give him the epic stuff, and it's going to come back looking fantastic. But I know I can also give him dense character pages that depend on mood and expression, and he’s going to nail that, too. Stjepan is also an idea factory. He's constantly throwing ideas and designs into the mix, so this is a true collaboration, not just an assembly line where I write and he paints.
CV: Broken Trinity is supposed to "establish a new status quo" in the Top Cow universe. Is this all your brainchild or are you working with other writers (like Phil Hester for Darkness, etc)?
RM: I guess this one is mostly me. First Born was mine, so they're letting me run with this one. Phil's writing the Darkness tie-in issue, which turned out great. He came up with something that's going to carry through and serve as a nice ending bit for the storyline. Broken Trinity is a definitive end for at least one character, but it's also designed to add something important to the Top Cow Universe. We're setting up a major storyline that will continue to play out.
CV: The Witchblade is "one of the 13." So far we've also seen Darkness, Angelus, Rapture, the Bloodsword, the Spear of Destiny, and mention of the Wheel of Shadows, and Heart Stone. In Broken Trinity #1, we see 2 of the 13 (I won't mention which and spoil things). Do you have the others planned out? Will we see (or learn about) them during your run on Witchblade?
RM: Wow, you did your homework. I can never name them all off the top of my head; I have to look them up. The 13 Artifacts are collectively a big cog in the Top Cow Universe, and we do have plans for them. The two new characters we introduce in Broken Trinity will play a large role in what's going to happen. So Broken Trinity is very much the start of something, and we'll reveal more of the Artifacts as we go.
CV: Thanks. How much do you have planned out for Witchblade? Overall stories or story arcs mapped out by issue?
RM: We've got a very specific direction up through issue #150, and probably even a little further out, because Stjepan and I have more ideas than I think will fit between now and #150. Some arcs and issues and even specific scenes are pretty well defined, while other are looser. We're all going to get together in San Diego and hone the outline a bit more. I think it's good to know where you're going, but you don't want to be overly specific and lose the creativity and spontaneity. I'm all for chucking an idea if a better one comes along.
CV: Will we get more information about the Curator? Is he working with anyone (or would that be telling?)
RM: Well, if we give too much information, I won't be able to call him "the enigmatic Curator" anymore. We'll dribble out some hints and clues, but I think it's important to keep some sense of mystery to characters who are predicated, at least in some respects, upon mystery. I'd rather give away too little than too much. I mean, I never wanted to know Wolverine's "real" name and origin. That sort of stuff somehow never turns out to be as cool as the mystery.
CV: Yeah, Wolverine without the mystery is a little...boring.
Dani really came out looking like a chump (falling for "David Worthy"s charm), will she get the chance to redeem herself?
RM: She did look like a chump, and that's exactly what I wanted. I want characters who are fallible, who screw up because they're not as experienced. I think that makes them more real, and not just cookie-cutter characters. Dani was naive. Now we get to see if she learned the lesson.
CV: Speaking of Dani, you created her to replace Sara just as you created Kyle Rayner to replace Hal. Do you get a lot of hate mail in the beginning or are readers starting to trust you?
RM: Yeah, readers are starting to trust me—that's a good one. To be honest, I certainly hope they're not starting to trust me. If they are, that means the book is falling into a rut. I don't want the readers to think that anyone or anything is safe, including Dani, including Sara. If a reader knows what's coming, what's the sense in reading the book? There was certainly some bitching when we revealed Sara was pregnant, and even more bitching when she surrendered the Witchblade to Dani. We got some, “I’m never reading this book again!” letters. That's inevitable. Anytime you change anything in a comic, somebody somewhere gets offended. But if the story and characters aren't evolving, you're just treading water. Again, what's the sense in reading the book?
CV: Will we see more of Sara "working" in her new unit? I liked the CSI feel mixed with the bizarreness of her world. More of Dr. Inder Chandrakhar?
RM: A big part of Witchblade is a police procedural. At one point, the book was described as “’NYPD Blue’ meets the ‘X-Files,’” which I think is pretty much on the money. I feel like giving the story a sense of realism, and grounding it in that police aspect, makes it easier for the readers to swallow the supernatural stuff when it occurs. Doctor Chandrakhar will be a recurring character, so will the reporter we introduced in issue #116. I want to expand the supporting cast a bit.
CV: You killed off long time character Jake McCarthy. Any particular reason? Didn't like him? Needed to mix things up?
RM: I think readers get a mistaken impression that writers “don’t like” a character if something bad happens to that character. That’s not the case, at least with me. I didn't dislike Jake's character at all, I just didn't have a real use for him. When I took over the series, I felt like I needed a new point-of-view character, and that turned out to be Patrick Gleason. Sara's world was new to Gleason, new to me, and new to at least some readers. Once Gleason was introduced, Jake became expendable, and I felt that killing someone close to Sara was a way to remind everyone that there are deadly serious consequences to the kind of life Sara leads. Like I said, no one is safe.
CV: I have a theory who could be next but I'll keep it to myself.
You had a government agent, Jon Carstens, lay a trap for Sara to get the Witchblade. Will we find out more about this branch of the government and how they knew Sara possessed it? Could Carstens have survived the torture by the failed super-soldier Michael Andrews? (Samantha Argent was shown at the end of that issue so did Carstens have anything to do with Hunter-Killers?)
RM: To my mind, Carstens didn't survive. He got what was coming to him. But there's more story to tell about that particular government agency. We just have to find time to get back to it.
CV: In Witchblade #118 & 119 we saw Aphrodite IV rather than Aphrodite IX. She's headed to Louisiana next. Will you be writing that story?
RM: Aphrodite IV's next appearance, in Louisiana, coincidentally enough, will occur in The Darkness #8, written by Phil Hester. See, we actually are doing our homework to make sure all this stuff coordinates.
CV: Did you watch the Witchblade tv show when it was on? What about the upcoming movie? With you becoming Mr. Witchblade, will you have anything to do with it?
RM: I only saw one episode of the TV show. But the boxed set of the entire series just came out, so I'll be able to catch up at some point. As far as the movie, who knows? I'm more than happy to chip in if there's a place for me.
CV: You've previously worked on male space superheroes like Green Lantern and Silver Surfer. What made you decide to "jump on" Witchblade?
RM: Something like Witchblade, which is more grounded in reality than big superhero stuff, is actually closer to my personal tastes. Surfer was the first regular book I ever had, and my work there is what led DC to offer me Green Lantern, so I guess there was a slight bit of type casting involved. But left completely to my own devices, I'm more of a Batman/Daredevil guy than a cosmic guy. I also like writing female characters, who I think are often more emotionally mature than their male counterparts. Look, I'm a guy, I know we can be real jackasses.
CV: There's rumors of you possibly returning to Green Lantern after Geoff Johns' Blackest Night story (in 2010). Possible?
RM: Anything's possible, but my plate's pretty full, and I frankly expect Geoff to have a long and successful run on GL. It's a book that really seems to be in his comfort zone, so I hope he keeps writing it as long as he feels inspired.
CV: First Born was about birth. Broken Trinity is supposed to be about death. Do you have a third "event" in mind?
RM: I know where we're eventually headed after Broken Trinity in terms of the larger storyline. It's definitely an event-type story, but I'm not sure exactly where or when we're going to tell it. I'd like to let it unfold at its own pace, and see where that brings us.
CV: What about Ian Nottingham? Readers want to see him return. Would you ever consider an Ian solo book or mini-series?
RM: I think Ian works best as a supporting character, not a lead. And right now he's cooling his heels in a max-security prison. With that long hair, he's kind of pretty, so he's probably got his hands full in the big house right now. But I expect he'll return at some point.
CV: You have an upcoming mini, Dragon Prince, coming up. What would you like to say about that?
RM: I'd like to say, "Buy it!" Dragon Prince actually began life as a project from Dark Horse, with Jeff Johnson drawing it, so I'm really tickled to have it resurrected at Top Cow with Lee Moder now on board as the artist. It got stalled at Dark Horse when Jeff got hired at Warner Bros. Animation, and languished for about four years. But Top Cow expressed interest, a deal was worked out, and here we are. It's a modern fantasy, an all-ages book that I think adults will like, but kids will find accessible, too. It's not written down to kids, it's literally "all ages" in the way that Harry Potter attracts readers in all age groups. It's about a boy named Aaron Chiang who finds out that he is, in fact, the last of a race of shape-changing dragons. Which would be pretty cool ... except there's an ancient society of wizards dedicated to eradicating dragons. The first issue comes out at the end of September.
CV: What are some other comics on your reading list (if you have time for other comics)?
RM: I don't read as much as I'd like to, or even as much as I should. I end up reading a lot more trades than I do singles, because I just don't have the time to get out to a store on a regular basis. I keep up with Hellboy and its various spinoffs, The Walking Dead, Invincible, Captain America, Daredevil. I'm also looking forward to The Stand a lot. Jonah Hex and All-Star Superman are the first things I pull out of the DC comp box.
CV: With the increase in different colored Lantern Corps, do you have a favorite color among them?
RM: Yeah, green. I'm old school.
CV: Me too.
Any other Top Cow projects in the work? What about what you'll be doing at Virgin? Anything else?
RM: Once we put Broken Trinity to bed, I'm going to start working on some Magdalena material. I think she's a great character and a great visual, so I'm really anxious to see if we can gather the threads of her story thus far and have them make sense. And I've got a few other creator-owned ideas to follow Dragon Prince. For Virgin, I just finished adapting Deepak Chopra's Beyond, though we still have a couple of issues due to come out. I'll continue editing a few books in their Shakti line. And at Dark Horse I'm still doing Samurai: Heaven and Earth with Luke Ross, and Pantheon City with Clement Sauve. We should see both of those next year.