Despite Marvel and DC being the most well-known comic houses, they aren’t the only game in town. Top Cow has published many successful comics, with one of them being Witchblade. The Witchblade universe is dark and down to earth, mixing crime with the supernatural. My favourite character from the series is Ian Nottingham. Nottingham is an underrated character and here is what makes him worth knowing about.
Nottingham is former Captain of the British Special Air Service and member of M15. To infiltrate the Yakuza and Russian mob, he agreed to behaviour modifications. However, his conditioning made him forget his past and he became the bodyguard of notorious criminal Kenneth Irons. Nottingham appeared in Witchblade #1 and established himself as an enemy of detective and Witchblade bearer Sara Pezzini. This started a complex relationship that saw Nottingham fall in love with Sara and led to him helping her in later stories.
Ian can be considered a member of the Yakuza, though he operates as a Ronin by working for whoever he chooses. While working for Irons, he was subjected to experiments that allowed him to siphon massive amounts of energy. This proved to be strong enough to allow him to wield the Witchblade and Darkness at the same time.
Even without his powers, Nottingham is a formidable opponent. He’s an exceptional swordsman and has been shown to have superhuman reflexes. Eventually, Ian went on to be the wielder of the Blood Sword, a cursed katana that feeds off violence.
Nottingham is an interesting character because he was a good man who lost his way. This could be compared to a samurai who has been dishonoured, as Ian is defined by his love of Japan and the culture. He started as an enforcer of the law, but went on to become one of the greatest assassins in the world. You’re never quite sure whose side he’s on and that makes for an intriguing antagonist.
It’s my hope that he reappears one day in the Top Cow universe and his past is explored in greater depth. I’m a sucker for a good redemption story and Nottingham deserves his time in the spotlight.