Witchblade. Artists: Michael Turner and associates.


Original medium: Comic books
Published by: Image Comics
First Appeared: 1995
Creator: Michael Turner
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With eye candy for the boys and a strong, independent-minded female protagonist for the girls, Witchblade, by cartoonist Michael Turner (Fathom), seems to have started out with a little something for everyone. That probably accounts for its initial popularity, but what's kept it going since its 1995 debut, and what's turned it …

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… into a minor cross-media hit, is the fact that a substantial body of readers, of both genders, find it interesting and exciting enough to keep coming back.

The Witchblade was first seen in a preview edition given out at the 1995 San Diego Comic Book Convention, bundled with a preview of Cyblade, a would-be spin-off of the superhero team Cyberforce. Witchblade #1, which began a long-running, ongoing title, followed on its heels, with a November cover date. The publisher was the recently-founded Image Comics, already riding high with the ongoing titles Spawn, Savage Dragon and several others. Image was organized as a collection of studios, each owned by one of the company's founders. When some split off into separate publishers, Witchblade went with Top Cow, run by Marc Silvestri (X-Men, Wolverine).

The name "Witchblade" refers to an ancient, living weapon, the origin of which is unknown, wielded by heroic women across a span of many centuries. According to the back-story, Joan of Arc, Queen Isabella and Cleopatra are among its past users, as are several other historical figures, and quite a few who made less of a mark there. It consists of an armored gauntlet able to bond with its wearer, conferring great power to combat evil, provided she was able to keep the device's own evil side in check.

The current owner of the Witchblade is New York police officer Sara "Pez" Pezzini, unless the ownership relationship goes in the other direction. She acquired it in a homicide case in which her partner, Michael Yee, was killed — and she'd have been killed too, if the spirit dwelling within the Witchblade hadn't psychically called out to her, inducing her to put it on. When she did, her wounds were healed and she was powered up, able to defeat the villain and go on to a new career of superheroic action.

That career included not just crossovers with other prominent comics characters, such as Lady Death and The Justice League of America, but also spin-offs into other media. Actress Yancy Butler played Pez in a TV movie that aired on cable's Turner Network on August 25, 2000. The series started June 12 of the following year. The first season lasted only 11 episodes, then was rebooted, with a slightly different origin story, on June 16, 2002. The second season had 12 episodes before Butler had to leave for medical reasons. She didn't come back, and neither did the series. A new series was done in 2006, as animé set in the 22nd century, with Mamiko Noto (Yukinari Sasaki in Girls Bravo, no relation) as Masane Amaha, the future wielder of the Witchblade.

Back in comic books, Michael Turner had long since passed his creation on to other hands when he died in 2008 at the tragically young age of 37. But Witchblade continues to attract a healthy share of readers.


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Text ©2006-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Michael Turner.