Ian Nottingham is a British and American Indian descendant and first appeared in Witchblade #1. Formally a Captain of the Special Airs Service for the MI5 (British Security Service). He underwent modifications towards his behavior to be able to go undercover perfectly. While deep undercover as an assassin for the Russian mafia, he made contact with Kenneth Irons, who wanted to mold him into the perfect warrior.
Nottingham was indebted to both the Yakuza and to Kenneth Irons. He's considered a member of a Yakuza family, not unlike Jackie Estacado of the Darkness who is the adopted son of a Mafia family. He has attained a high rank in the Yakuza, yet remains a ronin of sorts, working for whomever he chooses.
Irons volunteered Ian's body for super secret government testing under the aegis of PROJECT ODIN. The experiments have fused Nottingham's adult DNA with some undisclosed element. Because of the testing and certain special conditioning, Nottingham has been the only man to "successfully" wear the Witchblade.
Ian has been shown to possess a number of mystical powers, including enhanced speed and strength. The odd markings on his right hand, courtesy of Irons, allows him to bond with both the Witchblade and the Darkness powers. And for a short time both powers preferred him over Pezzini and Estacado. As the villainous Sonatine put it, Nottingham's body and soul were built to absorb mass quantities of power, "whether voluntarily or not." He didn't ask for the Witchblade.
Sonatine, the nemesis of Jackie Estacado, asked Nottingham to take the Darkness. When he said no, Sonatine bewitched him and suddenly Nottingham was a puppet. In a strange twist of fate, Estacado and Pezzini encountered Nottingham in a museum, and police detective and Mafia hitman had to work together to save the world from him. Apparently when the Witchblade and the Darkness powers -- both fairly malevolent entities -- meet in one soul, they transform that soul into a doomsday machine.
Together the Witchblade and the Darkness are Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Which roughly translates into one of the Seven Seals of Armageddon. Jackie took back the darkness power and prevented destruction, however Witchblade chose Ian over Pezzini that time. Unknown to all participants a new entity, Weave, had born out of the union.
When Irons' obsession with the Witchblade sucked him in, Nottingham was deeply curious about how the gauntlet would feel on his arm. But once the rune met the stone, he quickly came to wish he had not been curious at all. Because the Witchblade is a sentient power, ungovernable by any who have not been born to wield it -- and even difficult to those chosen women. And Nottingham, despite his extreme cool, his self-possession, and his strength, could not bend the Witchblade to his will. In fact, the gauntlet controlled him.
He eventually lost the Witchblade to Pezzini in a battle which gave him serious injuries. He was nursed back to his health by a Japanese girl called Setsuke. After she made an attempt at Gavin Taylor's (a famous rock star turned guru with connections to Kenneth Irons) life, Irons made him kill her, and Ian angrily obeyed.
Recently, Ian has acquired Excalibur which has brought a new edge to Ian's life. The depths of this newfound power, and its effects on Ian's life have yet to fully manifest themselves. He cannot really control it yet either. If he uses Excalibur, he gives in to it and it takes him over, pretty much just like the Witchblade did. Ian Nottingham believes in the power of the human will and that through sheer force of will almost anything can be accomplished. Ian also has the belief that all life is chaos and that the control of life is fleeting at best. These beliefs have proven themselves time and again throughout his life.
Now, in the possession of Excalibur, Ian is forced to struggle even harder to control that life. Ian is rejected by Sara and responds by temporarily going back into services of Kenneth Irons. Irons sends Ian to stop the Yakuza and Mafia war that is going on in the city by destroying the Yakuza. The Yakuza in turns employs Tora No Shi. Tora and Ian fight on a rainy rooftop. Ian is depicted as an assassin, someone who has honor in his killings and only targets those he is hired to kill. In contrast, Tora is described as a murderer, someone who is willing to kill innocents and use treachery in his quest for death. Ian manages to defeat Tora No Shi, but relents showing Tora mercy. Tora in turn attacks Ian from behind as he is walking away and plunges a sword into Ian's chest.
Ian regenerates using the Excalibur and confronts Tora No Shi at Cauty Towers, home of Kenneth Irons. In the rematch, Ian destroys Tora by throwing him into a steinway grand piano and then uses the Excalibur to engulf the Japanese murderer, making Tora cry for mercy in the process. Ian then tosses his opponent to the ground like a rag doll as Kenneth Irons watches with amusement. Ian later cuts off all employment ties with Kenneth Irons.
Ian, with Excalibur, begins to lose control of his psyche. He interrupts a board meeting between Irons and his board of trustees. Upon seeing Ian, Tora No Shi, who is now the new man servant of Kenneth Irons nearly soils himself. Ian then easily kills Tora No Shi during the Deathpool storyline. Ian lost the Excalibur, which is revealed to be portion of the Witchblade, after Sara unites the two together.
Ian has recently reappeared, pursued by Yakuza assassins. He arrives at Sara's apartment door and asks for help.and asking Sara for help. Sara helps take care of his wounds, but rejects him once again when Ian asks if he can borrow the Witchblade, later Ian is seen stealing The Blood Sword from the Curator's Artifact shop. He uses the cursed katana to kill off any opposition and takes control of the local Yakuza and when Sara shows up invites her to join him in his life of crime.
Sara is not impressed. After arresting Nottingham, she returned the cursed katana to the Curator's shop. Ian's stay in jail was a rather short one because Ian escaped Ryker's prison and then had a Central Park battle with Sara. Ian offered Sara to follow him so they can live a life of love making reference to Sara's current life that was full of stress and constant battles because of the Witchblade. Sara refused, causing tension between the two character which resulted in one of the best fight scenes during the series. After hitting pregnant Sara a few times, one with a crude haymaker to the face, the other a side-stepping kick to the stomach, Ian makes a sexist comment before Sara disposes of him using the Witchblade.
Detective Pezzini arrests Ian and sends him back to prison. It should be noted that Sara decided to give up the Witchblade because of this battle.
Ian has broke out of prison with the help of Aphrodite IV. He tracks down Michael Finnigan and brutally stabs him before stealing the Blood Sword and pushing his body into a river.
Ian along with Sabine, Mali, and Alina Enstrom are sent to recruit the Thirteenth Wielder. Ian along with his companions are defeated by the Thirteenth, thus failing to recruit him.
Ian partakes in the final battle between the Artifacts bearers. He confronts Sara Pezzini who asks why Ian is helping the Curator to destroy the world. Ian responds by telling her that he never got anything he wanted in this world, and that is the reason why he is helping the Curator.
Ian then battles Micheal Finnegan, and manages to kill the Irishman but in the processes breaks his arm. Ian then claims claiming both the Blood Sword and the Glacier Stone before he recommences his attack, until the rebirth of the universe is initiated by Sara, Jackie and Hope.
Post Top Cow Rebith
After the rebirth Ian does not resurface until a lot later on where he is seen attacking his previous employers and pseudo-family the Yakuza to prove that he does not need the Blood Sword's powers in order to be one of the most dangerous assassins in the Top Cow-verse. It is unknown what became of the Glacier Stone. Whether Ian lost it after the reboot or whether he was simply choosing not to use it like he was the Blood Sword. After killing the heads of the Yakuza he takes their blood and paints a giant picture of a Katana with it onto a highway which is later picked up on the news and shown all over the world sending a message to all who want to challenge Nottingham for the right to the Blood Sword.
Powers and Abilities
The marks that adorn Ian's skin courtesy of Kenneth Iron's grant Ian the ability to siphon powers of mystical origin. Transferring them into himself. He has used this ability to siphon powers from both the Witchblade and the Darkness. It is unknown if this ability is also what let him channel the Glacier Stone and the Blood Sword or if he was simply capable of controling them.
Ian possesses superhuman speed and reflexes. He has been seen moving as a blur to or characters with superhuman perception. He also regularly catches bullets in his hand and deflects them with swords to show off his speed.
Nottingham has been see slicing through cars with little effort.
Due to years of vigorous training Ian is a formidable hand to hand and sword fighter. He has even managed to give the Witchblade problems when he was completely unarmed due to his skill, knowledge of pressure points in combination with his superhuman attributes. Ian also shows a favor for improvised weaponry seeing him grab pieces of his enviroment to fight the opponent with is not unusual be it a rock or even chopsticks.
Ian is currently the wielder of the Blood Sword. One of the 13 Artifacts. The sword boosts Ian's already impressive physicals (Nottingham was seen slicing through a stone bridge with the sword) as well as gives him a form of energy projection to attack from a range. The sword also has the ability to kill almost anything it can cut as seen when it was used to kill the Angelus despite its immortality.
After killing Michael Finnegan Ian briefly used both the Blood Sword and the Glacier Stone in order to fight the other artifacts.
Due to his ability to siphon mysitcal energy Ian was able to use the Witchblade
Due to his ability to siphon mysitcal energy Ian was able to use the Darkness
Ian once had access to a weapon called Excalibur that actually turned out to be part of the Witchblade.