“Nothing Less Than Heroic” – Meredith Finch On Bringing Xena: Warrior Princess Back To Comics

by Hannah Means Shannon

Xena: Warrior Princess returns in February from Dynamite Entertainment with an all-new series written by Meredith Finch, drawn by Vicente Cifuentes, colored by Triona Farrell, and lettered by Cardinal Rae, featuring covers by David Finch.

This series is going to focus a great deal on the underpinning conflicts that Xena faces, dealing with her previous life choices and excessive violence, and looking ahead toward the person whom she wants to be. She’ll be traveling to Athens to plead for her own redemption at the temple of Eleos, but will that really be enough? And who’s to say how the gods even feel about her?

Meredith Finch joins us on Comicon.com today to talk about this new foray into the mind of a complicated character and into a world where trying to do the right thing may make as big a statement as it does today.

[Cover art by David Finch]

Hannah Means-Shannon: In the announcement for the return of Xena at Dynamite, you were quoted as noting that Xena is a heroine who does not have super powers, and that can be significant for readers and for storytelling. How would you describe Xena’s unique characteristics that make her stand out in her world, despite the fact that she’s not “super”?

Meredith Finch: Xena achieved what, for many individuals, let alone a woman, would be impossible when she made a name for herself as one of the most feared warlords in ancient Greece.  She propelled herself to the top of what would typically be considered a male dominated profession through will power, determination, intelligence, and hard work.  Her decision to use her “powers” for good and her constant struggles to redeem herself by being a force for good is nothing less than heroic. It actually makes writing her as a character both easier and more challenging at the same time because I don’t have a particular “power” to fall back on, but she has such a variety of skills to use to solve a problem that it always keeps things interesting.

HMS: As someone who watched the original television series, when I think of Xena, I think of her struggle to hold herself accountable to be a good person, within the bounds of her abilities. For that reason she seems like a very positive force, not because she always succeeds, but because she always tries. Does that come into play at all in the upcoming series?

MF: That pretty much sums up exactly how I see Xena as a character, and the core idea behind the story I’m writing. I see her in our initial story as almost too cautious. She’s very much like a pendulum who has swung one way (doing very bad things) and now is on the complete opposite trajectory (do no harm). A large part of our story is her finding that balance between embracing who she is and understanding how she can use all of her skills for good.

HMS: How is writing a character like Xena different for you than writing a character like Wonder Woman or Rose?

MF: Both Wonder Woman and Rose have a natural inherent goodness to them, or a savior type quality. They operate from a place of wanting to make the world in which they live better. In contrast, Xena is a killer. A huge part of who and what she is, comes from her feelings of guilt and her need to atone for her past sins. I think that makes the tone of her character and of the book naturally much darker.

HMS: What kind of role can we expect from Gabrielle in the new series? Is she present and active? If so, how might she influence the story?

MF: Gabrielle is the light to Xena’s darkness. She really is the key to Xena finding a balance between who and what she was, and the woman/hero that she has the potential to become. I guess it’s safe to say that she will have a very prominent role in our new series. As Xena so often struggles to understand what it means to do the right thing, the character of Gabrielle is especially important for her development and journey toward redemption.

HMS: When working in a world of gods and monsters, what freedom does that allow you as a writer, and what challenges does it bring?

MF: There are certainly some parameters that come when you are working with established mythology, but those boundaries are much more flexible in a fantasy setting, and when you are rebooting a character. Really, my biggest challenge is narrowing down which gods or monsters I can include in our arc without overdoing it.

HMS: Can you tell us a little bit about working with the other members of the creative team, and what you feel they bring to the project that’s particular to their personalities?

MF: I am so thrilled to be working with Vicente on this book. He has such a love for the character, and we really share the philosophy that we want to do something new with the character and the book while still giving fans the Xena they know and love. I contacted several friends in the industry when I started looking for an artist for this book, and I saw a lot of amazing art, but one piece really stood out. It was a pinup that really saw into the heart of the character, and showcased not only her power as a warrior princess, but also a vulnerability.  Vicente does such an amazing job of giving you nuances within the detail, not only in his characters, but also in the way his settings add to the feel and emotion of each scene.

Beyond Vicente, I am incredibly blessed to have been able to assemble the same team on Xena as I have on Rose. Triona Farrell brings her breathtaking skill to colors and we have Cardinal Rae on letters. They are my girls, and I love having a team that has so much respect for what each member contributes, and works so well together. I think it makes for a total package that is as much fun for us to create as it is for the readers to enjoy.

Thanks so much to Meredith Finch for sharing her insights on Xena here on Comicon.com!

Xena #1 arrives in comic shops from Dynamite Entertainment on February 14th, 2018.