Witchblade Reboot Lands at NBC

NBC is developing a live-action television series revival of the classic Image Comics character Witchblade.

While the 1990’s are widely seen as a dubious period in the comic book industry, rife with overpriced gimmicks and exploitative aesthetics fixated on scantily-clad, proportionally-questionable female characters posed in positions that would give chiropractors nightmares, the era did set its handprint in the cement of history. Consequently, one of the most noteworthy characters to emerge from that era in Image Comics’ Witchblade is about to make a return to the mainstream limelight.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Big Three network NBC is developing a new live-action television rendition of Witchblade. With the production set over at Sony Pictures Television, NBC has appointed an experienced show-running team in producers Carol Mendelsohn (CSI franchise, Melrose Place) and Caroline Dries (The Vampire Diaries, Melrose Place). Dries, who also spent years writing for the Superman prequel series Smallville, will also serve as scriptwriter alongside co-executive producer and fellow Vampire Diaries scribe alum Brian Young.

Witchblade debuted in 1995 at Image Comics, published under Top Cow Productions, the studio of former X-Men artist Marc Silvestri (who co-created the character with Michael Turner, Brian Haberlin and David Wohl). The traditional story centers on NYPD homicide detective Sara Pezzini, who learns she is the latest in a bloodline of women connected to a sentient symbiotic bracelet called the Witchblade. Fate intervenes when a smuggler brings the artifact – a frightening-looking right-arm gauntlet – to New York, eventually landing it in Sara’s possession, endowing her with supernatural powers. Yet, said powers also risk the possibility of unleashing an uncontrollable darkness within herself as she continues her crime-fighting endeavors. Intriguingly, NBC’s Witchblade series will reportedly shift the setting to San Francisco’s Mission District, kicking off Sara’s story with a hunt for an elusive serial killer.

Thus, with an impending vacancy on NBC’s primetime lineup after supernatural horror/crime/suspense series Grimm wraps up its final abbreviated season, Witchblade will presumably fill that same genre formula. Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Witchblade landed in live-action form on the small screen, since cable network TNT served as a showcase for a Witchblade series in which Yancy Butler starred as Sara Pezzini/Witchblade. The short-lived series (trailer below,) ran from 2001-2002 across two brief seasons.

With NBC’s previous attempt to adapt a horror-themed comic-book with Constantine in 2014 yielding a fan-beloved, but unceremonious-cancelled series (set to be revived in animated form on CW Seed voiced by star Matt Ryan), it will be interesting to see NBC’s approach to Witchblade. Since the long-running Grimm stayed alive in a notoriously perilous Friday night slot with its adherence to crime procedural conventions, it’s reasonable to assume that Witchblade will do the same, also staying far away from the very-1990’s look of the original comics.

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