|This article does not cite any references or sources. (May 2014)|
|Publisher||Image Comics/Top Cow|
|First appearance||Witchblade #1|
|Alter ego||Ian Nottingham|
|Team affiliations||British Army (Special Air Service), British Home Office (MI5)|
|Abilities||Nottingham has displayed superhuman feats of speed and strength. His body and soul are built to absorb mass amounts of energy. He also has the mystic ability to siphon power from the Witchblade and The Darkness. He possesses the sword Excalibur, the Witchblade's male twin. It can act like armor, produce energy blasts and constructs, and decrease the aging process|
He was once a captain in the British Special Air Service, later working for MI5. He underwent behavioural modifications so he could go deep undercover, but the conditioning caused him to forget his past, and he became a bodyguard for Kenneth Irons. Initially, Nottingham was described as being raised from childhood to be the perfect warrior, learning several forms of combat and studying Sun Tzu's Art of War. These are later explained as false memories from the behavioural modification. Irons employed the adult Nottingham, with a seven-figure salary and access to Irons' extensive laserdisc collection.
While in Irons' employ, he became romantically involved with NYC Police Detective Sara Pezzini (wielder of the Witchblade, which Irons covets). Their relationship is often troubled by a basic clash in personalities; Pezzini tends to be impulsive and hot-headed, whereas Nottingham is cold and calculating. He ordered the death of Pezzini’s partner in Witchblade #01. He remained infatuated with her even after she told him to "get a life" when he revealed his love for her. Pezzini's rejection drove Nottingham back to Irons until he became concerned for her safety again. Although they have faced each other in battle, many times due to Nottingham being driven to the brink of madness by the Witchblade, he has also protected her with his life and aided her throughout the series.
In the latest update, Nottingham was still in prison after having been arrested by Pezzini on two separate occasions. The first time occurred after using her to kill a Yakuza mob boss; he escaped, only to be sent back after being defeated by Pezzini in a fight.
Powers and abilities
At one point in the comic story line, Nottingham attained the powers of both The Witchblade and The Darkness thanks to his body and soul being "built" to absorb and unify mass quantities of mystical power and essences, whether voluntarily or not. He later became the wielder of Excalibur (a sentient weapon, and the male half of The Witchblade).
Even before he acquired other powers, he displayed superhuman abilities such as cutting cars in half with his sword and catching bullets in his hands. Nottingham has above average intelligence and has enhanced speed and strength. He is also an accomplished martial artist and swordsman; his preferred weapon is a katana—and he has had Black Operation training. Issue #8 of Witchblade, Destiny's Child: Witchblade and Witchblade 1/2 make references to his talent as an accomplished pianist, fluency in several languages and a self-taught medic.
Nottingham was born April 21, 1966. Earlier issues of the Witchblade written by different writers have somewhat conflicting stories on Nottingham's background. In Destiny's Child: Witchblade, young Nottingham was a troublemaker and a bully. He and his brother were orphans. He was later adopted by a wealthy family in Northern London where his sadistic, adoptive father raised him to be a killer. In other issues, he appears to have been living with Kenneth Irons since childhood, who later turned him into a killer. A later reference to his background is made when he is revealed to have been a Captain of the British Special Air Service and, through intense conditioning to go deep undercover, he forgot his past and instead started working for Irons (issue #50).
When sent on a mission to Japan to kill a woman, Nottingham fell in love with his target and with the Japanese culture. However, his happiness was short-lived when he discovered her in bed with another man. The tumultuous end of that love affair had a hand in making him so cold and controlled. "Never again" became his motto.
Nottingham was indebted to both the Yakuza and to Kenneth Irons. He is considered a member of a Yakuza family, not unlike Jackie Estacado of the Darkness who is the adopted son of a Mafia family. He attained a high rank in the Yakuza, yet remains a ronin of sorts, working for whomever he chooses.
Nottingham undergoes a constant internal battle between his feelings for Detective Sara Pezzini and his loyalty to his mentor, Kenneth Irons. His relationship with Irons can only be qualified as a hate–use relationship, although Nottingham once considered Irons to be his friend. Irons volunteered Nottingham's body for super secret government testing under the aegis of PROJECT ODIN. The experiments fused Nottingham's adult DNA with some undisclosed element. Because of the testing and certain special conditioning, Nottingham is the only man to "successfully" wear the Witchblade. Nottingham has been shown to possess a number of mystical powers, including enhanced speed and strength.
The odd markings on his right hand, courtesy of Irons, allow him to bond with both the Witchblade and the Darkness powers. For a short time both powers preferred him over Pezzini and Estacado. As the villainous Sonatine expressed it, Nottingham's body and soul were built to absorb mass quantities of power, "whether voluntarily or not". Nottingham did not ask for the Witchblade; Sonatine, the nemesis of Jackie Estacado, asked Nottingham to take the Darkness. When he said no, Sonatine bewitched him and suddenly Nottingham was a puppet.
In a strange twist of fate, Estacado and Pezzini encountered Nottingham in a museum, and the police detective and Mafia hitman had to work together to save the world from him. Apparently when the Witchblade and the Darkness powers—both fairly malevolent entities—meet in one soul, they transform that soul into a doomsday machine. Together, the Witchblade and the Darkness are Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. This roughly translates into one of the Seven Seals of Armageddon.
When Irons' obsession with the Witchblade ensnared him, Nottingham was deeply curious about how the gauntlet would feel on his arm. But once the rune met the stone, he quickly came to wish he had not been curious at all. The Witchblade is a sentient power, ungovernable by any who have not been born to wield it—and even difficult to those chosen women. Nottingham, despite his extreme cool, self-possession, and strength, could not bend the Witchblade to his will. The gauntlet controlled him. He eventually lost the Witchblade to Pezzinni in a battle where he sustained serious injuries.
He was nursed back to health by a Japanese girl called Setsuke. After she made an attempt on Gavin Taylor's (a famous rock star turned guru with connections to Kenneth Irons) life, Irons made him kill her, and Nottingham angrily obeyed.
Recently, Nottingham acquired Excalibur, which brought a new edge to his life. The depth of this newfound power, and its effects on Nottingham's life have not yet fully manifested themselves. He is not yet in control of it. If he uses Excalibur, he gives in to it and it takes him over, much like the Witchblade did. Nottingham believes in the power of the human will and that through sheer force of will almost anything can be accomplished. He also has the belief that all life is chaos, and that the control of life is fleeting at best. These beliefs have proven themselves time and again throughout his life. Now, in the possession of Excalibur, Nottingham is forced to struggle even harder to control that life.
Nottingham, with Excalibur, killed Tora No Shi during the Deathpool storyline. He later lost Excalibur to Pezzini after she beat him in a fight.
During Ron Marz's run as current writer of the Witchblade series, Nottingham has reappeared, pursued by Yakuza assassins, and requesting Pezzini's help. Having lost the Excaliber to Pezzini in a previous battle, he asked if he could borrow the Witchblade, and later was seen stealing a cursed katana from the Curator's Artifact shop. He used the katana to kill off his opposition and take control of the local Yakuza, and when Pezzini showed up he invited her to join him in his life of crime. Pezzini was not tempted. After arresting Nottingham and sending him to jail, she returned the cursed katana to the Curator's shop.
Nottingham's stay in jail was a rather short one: in Witchblade issue 101, he escaped Ryker's prison. In issue 102 Nottingham had a battle in Central Park with Pezzini. Nottingham asked Pezzini to follow him so they could live a life of love, referring to Pezzini's life, which was full of stress and constant battles because of the Witchblade. Pezzini refused, causing tension between the two, which triggered the fight. After he hit the pregnant Pezzini a few times, once with a crude haymaker to the face, again with a side-stepping kick to the stomach, Pezzini disposed of Nottingham using the Witchblade, arrested him and sent him back to prison, and decided to give up the Witchblade because of this battle.
Some months later, the female cyborg assassin, Aphrodite IV, helps Nottingham to break out of jail following her mission to gathering the 13 Artifacts for her master, The Survivor. Ian tracks Michael Finnegan, the wielder of the Glacier Stone and the Blood Sword, and stabs him in order to steal the sword, Finnegan survives and Ian joins with the Survivor. Ian later leads a team to find the Thirteenth Artifact bearer, Ji Xi, but barely survive the encounter.
When Sara Pezzini and Jackie Estacado rescue their child Hope Pezzini they encounter the Survivor and those who have sided with him. Ian faces off against Sara who asks him "why would join with someone who wants to end the world?" to which he replies "Maybe a new life in a new world wouldn't be so bad. I certainly didn't get anything I wanted in THIS world." (Artifacts issue 11). The Survivor then shoots Sara with an energy blast which knocks her out. Later Finnegan attempts to rescue Hope, Sara, and Jackie only to be confronted by Nottingham. A battle ensues between the wield of the blood sword and the glacier stone, ending with Nottingham killing Finnegan by stabbing him in the chest with the blood sword. Ian pulls the glacier stone from Finnegan's body before commenting on how Finnegan might have broke his arm during the fight. Issue 11 of Artifacts ends with Ji Xi and Danielle Baptiste arriving to begin battle with Ian.
In other media
In the Witchblade television series, Nottingham was portrayed by Eric Etebari. Irons used the preserved stem cells of Elizabeth Brontë, a former wielder of the Witchblade, to create Nottingham and raised him as his son. In the first season finale, he was killed and Irons replaced with an overly-aggressive clone (however, time was rewound and his death was averted). Irons maintained control of Nottingham by stunting his emotional growth and Ian remains a virgin. Nottingham was shown as an enigmatic figure dressed in black that appeared before Pezzini to give her cryptic advice (usually veiled warnings of what his boss had planned for her), then disappeared into the shadows. He is obsessed with Pezzini, and shared a kiss with her doppelganger, Aras.
There have also been two separate action figures released of Nottingham. The first was the 1997 release of the Witchblade action figure series which depicted Nottingham in the full battle armor that he wore in Witchblade issues 1-8. The second figure was in the Witchblade series II action figures, released in 1999, that depicted Nottingham bare-chested.