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An American comic book series published by Top Cow, from 1995 to present. It centers around Sara Pezzini, a detective and the current wielder of the Witchblade. This supernatural, sentient weapon has bonded to various women through history, such as Cleopatra and Joan of Arc. While Sara struggles to master the powerful weapon and fend off those who would use it for evil, she also tries to maintain a personal life. Pezzini and her weapon first appeared in the one-shot Cyblade/Shi #1 (1995), which featured a crossover between two previously established heroines.
The Witchblade itself is an ancient, conscious, and intelligent weapon with supernatural origins. It is one of thirteen artifacts of such a type (of which five have been named so far), and the offspring of The Darkness and the Angelus (the darkness and the light, respectively). The Witchblade is a masculine aspect, designed to balance with a female wielder, but an unworthy user who tries to wield it will lose her arm. When a worthy host is found, it forms a symbiotic relationship with her, allowing her to hear it. When activated, it expands over the user's body, shredding clothes and replacing them with armor in direct proportion to the immediate threat. It can also form weapons, like swords, darts, and grapples, and it can be used in such diverse situations as picking locks or healing injuries. It can reanimate the dead, show the user scenes of great trauma, and allow the user to experience memories of past users.
In the First Born miniseries, the Witchblade split into two parts, one wielded by Sara and the other by her "understudy" Danielle Baptiste. This later turned out to be a really bad idea, and Sara is currently wielding the reunified Witchblade. Danielle has gone on to serve as the current host of the Angelus.
As of issue #150 of the series, Sara has quit the NYPD following a (frankly long overdue) investigation by Internal Affairs, and has moved to Chicago to pursue a career as a private investigator. This followed a switch in writers, as Ron Marz left the book after several years and was replaced by Hack/Slash's Tim Seeley.
This Comic contains examples of:
- Action Girl: This series was built around this trope. Sara is a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails cop who exhibits all the traits of a strong woman: independence, nonconformity, and confidence. She towers over weaklings, overcomes her failings, is not afraid to cross the line to do the right thing.
- Ambiguously Bi: Sarah and Lara Croft of all people.
- Anti-Hero: Sara Pezzini is a Type III.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Cleopatra and Joan of Arc, among others, also wielded the Witchblade.
- Breast Plate: Witchblade was the ultimate example of this trope throughout the 90s. Recent artists have made attempts at giving Sarah armor with more coverage.
- If you like to know, it now looks like a semi-form-fitting silver and gold bio-mess that fully covers everything, more like the Darkness's armor rather than a metal thong.
- Lampshaded in the new Artifacts arc: "What about you?" "I'm wearing ARMOR, not a bikini. What do YOU think?" Especially ironic coming from someone who essentially did wear a bikini for the better part of a decade (and still does on the occasional cover).
- There's also the fact that it is capable of shifting instantly to respond to threats. This includes being able to form a bullet-deflecting helmet in the time between the bullet being fired and it reaching Sara.
- Big Bad: Kenneth Irons and Curator/Survivor.
- Break the Cutie: Lisa.
- Church of Happyology: The Path of Prosperity.
- Clingy MacGuffin/Clingy Costume: The Witchblade itself it a symbiotic life-form which requires a human host to wield its power. Within the context of the series, the weapon is described as being technically male and is thus partial to conveniently young, strong, and beautiful women to serve as its ideal bearers.
- Clothes Make the Superman
- Clothing Damage: Not entirely necessary, according to one retcon - the Witchblade is just a pervert.
- Covers Always Lie: In current issues of the series, Sara has enough control over the Witchblade's powers that it rarely shreds her clothing and usually manifests as a nearly-impenetrable second skin, as opposed to the chitinous bikini she's known for. The cover artists frequently do not take this into account, to the point where an uninformed observer could be forgiven for thinking Witchblade was an out-and-out adult comic.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive
- Crossover: With many other Top Cow series, most notably The Darkness, for obvious reasons.
- In issue #92, Sara goes on a vision quest through the lives of past wielders of the Witchblade. The final "wielder" she encounters is the goddess Dawn, who claims to be Sara's mother ("I'm mother to you and so many others...").
- Unusually for comic book crossovers, the events of the Marvel crossover Unholy Union are apparently canon, at least in the Top Cow universe. (Dani refers to it in passing during First Born.)
- Dark Age: Pezzini was a typical early '90s "bad girl" archetype (despite being a Lawful Good cop) in the beginning.
- Dark Age of Supernames
- Dating Catwoman
- Dark Is Not Evil: Somewhat. Darkness bearer Jackie Estacado is depicted as a killer with a heart of gold, particularly after the birth of Hope. This is mostly in-turn with the moderate success of the video games, as beforehand Jackie was a debauched alpha male with a borderline-psychotic demeanor.
- Subverted between "First Born" and "War of the Witchblades," where Sarah reclaims half of the Witchblade from Dani after Hope is born. Only, it's the half tat is the Darkness-lite, and it starts to drive her literally crazy, leading to the aforementioned war.
- Empathic Weapon
- Fan Service: At an average rate of 3.8 panels per page.
- Fusion Dance: All three variants.
- Gothic Punk: This concept is played with to an extent. New York City in particular is portrayed as shiny and glamorous on the surface, particularly in the daytime. Come nightfall, the city shows its bleak and gritty urban underbelly of mobsters, prostitution, drugs, broken homes and the like.
- Heroic Host: Sara for the Witchblade.
- Leprechaun: Encountered (and stomped on) in Medieval Spawn/Witchblade #2 (not one issue of each, a single crossover).
- Light Is Not Good: The Angelus is depicted as a luminescent angel and an agent of order. While she does represent the lawfulness of the cosmos, she embodies the more cold and calculating aspects of the universe and is more than willing to exploit or just incinerate the innocent to achieve her ends.
- Subverted in "War of the Witchblades" and its aftermath: Dani's half of the Witchblade was the half spawned from the Angelus, while Sarah's "dark" half drove her mad and needed to be stopped; Dani also becomes the new Angelus, and seems to be aiming to try and keep subverting this trope.
- Magic Pants: Inexperienced users of the Witchblade tend to find their clothes shredded during a transformation (see Clothing Damage, above), while more experienced users can make it transform their own clothes instead. The result tends to be varying degrees of Stripperiffic regardless.
- Mundane Utility: Being a superstrong cosmic warrior comes in darn handy for moving furniture...
- Sara always has a corkscrew when she needs one.
- New York City Cops
- Nineties Anti-Hero: Sara all the way. The Witchblade was created at the epicenter of the gritty and edgy era of comics in the 90's where heroes were expected to have more realistic flaws and struggles such as work responsibilities and emotional turmoil that usually translated into exaggerated angst.
- Not Wearing Tights: Or much of anything at all, really...
- Only the Chosen May Wield: Only those who exhibit strong character may be chosen as hosts for the Witchblade; and only once per generation, unless the weapon chooses another. This criteria usually includes chesty badass women, though there have been a few male users. Those unworthy have their arms severed.
- Out-of-Clothes Experience: Of course.
- Public Domain Artifact: Excalibur shows up as a male counterpart to the Witchblade.
- Shapeshifter Baggage: Just where does the Witchblade get the extra mass to change from its bracelet configuration to a full suit of armour?
- Stripperiffic: Virtually all young and attractive female characters are drawn specifically to appeal to the male gaze. Sara's Witchblade armor is blatantly revealing, with a particular emphasis on breasts and buttocks. The Magdalena - heirs of Christ and Mary Magdalene - are likewise revealing.
- Urban Fantasy
- Yin-Yang Bomb: Witchblade has elements of both the Darkness and Angelus, therefore acting as a balance keeper between the two.
- The above trope was the result of the Darkness being sick of the balance.