The '90s were an interesting time for comics, to say the least. Known by most as either “The Iron Age”, “The Dark Age”, or “The Dork Age” of comics depending on who you ask the, '90s nevertheless gifted upon comic fans quite a few things and characters that we take for granted today. People are quick to remember that the '90s gave us embarrassments like Jean-Paul Valley, 90’s “Bad Girl” comics like Lady Death, most of Rob Liefeld’s career, and the Clone Saga. But that decade also gave us Deadpool and Cable proving that even a broken clock is right twice a day, at least three ladies that I will be writing about in future installments but not mention today so as not to spoil the surprise, most of Neil Gaiman’s critically acclaimed Sandman, The Long Halloween, and Kingdom Come. The '90s also gave us today’s subject: one Sara Pezzini, the wielder of the Witchblade.
I still remember when I became aware of Witchblade. I was probably ten or eleven at the time and was browsing around the local comic book store in my hometown after having grabbed my copies of X-Men Adventures and Wolverine when I looked up to an upper level shelf outside of reach for my four foot whatever frame. On that shelf sat the most recent copy Witchblade and I got my first look of the strategically-placed-organic-armor-wearing Sara Pezzini. Of course I stared for a bit at her attire — it was practically impossible for me not to at that age — but I remember being most impressed with her hair, actually. Most comics back then didn’t put the attention-to-detail into a whole character that Michael Turner put into Sara’s hair.
But I was too young to get the comic back then; my local comic-book-guy wasn’t quite so irresponsible to allow a 10- or 11-year-old to buy Witchblade. So it wasn’t until I was about 14 or 15 that I was able to go back, buy a few books, and see that it wasn’t just covers that got that level of attention but practically all the art. That was also when I finally found out the story within the book and I loved it. I still do, in fact, because if you took out all the magic happening left and right, all the ancient artifacts and grand conspiracies vying for control of them, and all the fanservice you still had on your hands a very good police story. Sara spent nearly as much time working to solve mundane homicide cases, albeit with help from the Witchblade, as she did battling whatever mystic problem had recently appeared in her life.
Sara Pezzini was a NYPD homicide detective and her interactions with the world, both magic and mundane, reflected that. The only times her first instinct was to go into super mode when faced with a problem was when the problem itself was completely beyond the ability of a normal human to handle. Sara relied on her police training first for both combat and the arguably much harder task of solving crimes. Her first weapon and line of defense wasn’t the titular Witchblade. It was her mind. Granted, this was less true back in those early days when the comic first appeared. There was a period that Sara was almost as bad as any other “Bad Girl” anti-hero stereotype of the time. The book and the character grew up and out of it though and both are better for it.
These days Witchblade is both the same and at the same time very different than its origins back in 1995. Sara has changed considerably over the past 19 years, having gone through quite a few ordeals due to her wielding the Witchblade, the two most significant being her leaving the NYPD due to an Internal Affairs investigation and prior to that becoming a mother. Sara's struggles to protect her daughter from those who sought to control or destroy her produced some of her most badass moments, as always there is nothing out there more fierce than a mother protecting her child. Unfortunately all good things come to an end and eventually Hope Pezzini is lost to Sara when the universe is destroyed and then remade. After this and her IA investigation, Sara left New York City and set herself up as a private investigator in Chicago for a while before eventually returning to the state and becoming the Sheriff of Sartoga County bringing herself almost full circle.
That brought us all to the most recent arc of 5 issues wherein Sara tried to abandon the Witchblade and the consequences she faced afterward for doing so. Starting next month is not only a new arc within a double-sized anniversary issue but also is supposed to be a jumping on point for new readers. As someone who has been wanting to catch back up with Witchblade for a long while but has refrained due to always seeming to find the books again when they are in the middle of a story this is something I can't wait to check out.