Newsarama Note: The Painkiller Jane series is designed for mature readers, as reflected in the preview images.
If you’re as indestructible as Painkiller Jane, staying alive isn’t a problem. Protecting the ones besides you? A different story.
Marvel is at the halfway point in publishing the new series Painkiller Jane: The Price of Freedom, with Jimmy Palmiotti and long-time artistic collaborator Juan Santacruz showcasing the cop-turned-vigilante acting as a bodyguard for a naïve Saudi princess in a nondescript stretch of Long Island when a menagerie of professional killers show up with an intent to kill both of them. As seen in the recently released Painkiller Jane: The Price of Freedom #2, it set off a chain of events like a bull in a china shop – with the bull being Jane and the china shop being anyone unfortunate enough to get in her way.
With #2 on stands now, Newsarama took the opportunity to talk to Palmiotti about the revival of this character and Joe Quesada created, speaking about the new characters introduced in this series (including one with a crush on Jane!), as well as the bloody trail Jane is cutting through the boroughs, streets and walk-ups of New York City. The conversation expanded to talk about Palmiotti’s work on other female characters in comics and the nature of doing that in for the comics audience.
Newsarama: Painkiller Jane: The Price of Freedom #2 just came out, and we’re at the half-way mark with this new miniseries. A lot has happened, so can you tell us where things stand for Jane, the princess, Churchill and the rest of the cast here at this point?
Jimmy Palmiotti: The story so far is someone has sent killers after a visiting princess and one of the killers decides halfway through the operation that he will make more money grabbing the girl and offering her for a ransom, so murder now turns into good old-fashioned kidnapping. The government has sent a professional tracker named Churchill to find the princess, and while in the middle of a fight between Jane and the killer, the princess slips away and is on the run. It’s a fast paced over the top action adventure, as are all the Jane stories. A lot is going on and on top of it all, Jane feels responsible at this point.
Nrama: Next month #3 is coming out, and the solicits promise a shootout in a familiar place for you: Rockaway, Queens. Can you set the stage for what’s coming up?
Palmiotti: Issue #2 took place on Fire Island and traveling by boat, the fight was taken to Rockaway Queens, all along the Atlantic coast of the boroughs on New York. I set the story in the real world; so most of the locations are actual real places…just with some minor things tweaked. What we have is a balls-out fight between the hired Killer and Jane in a 5th floor walk-up apartment building. It ends with a very loud bang.
Nrama: I wanted to ask more about the tracker/bounty hunter, Churchill. What’s he all about?
Palmoitti: At the moment, Churchill is working for two different bosses, the girl’s father and a politician in Washington, but by the end of issue 3 he will be working out his own needs and problems, with Jane in tow. He is an interesting character because his alliances are all over the map and he has a crush on Jane, which doesn’t always end nicely. .
Nrama: This miniseries has put Painkiller Jane in a new light, and the beginning of issue #2 also saw Jane show off a softer side in teaching the princess a bit about the birds and the bees so to speak. What would you say about this mini taking Jane to a new place for her?
Palmiotti: Every time I write the character, I try to stay consistent to her voice and at the same time try to introduce a side of her that makes her likable…something a lead character always has to do at some point. Jane is a regular person outside her powers and as always a bit of an emotional roller coaster, which I thinks makes her so interesting and different than the usual pack of killer red heads out there. That and she has been around now for almost 20 years come 2014.
Nrama: Speaking of new places, Jane’s also got a new look for this. What do you have to say about Painkiller Jane’s evolving look?
Palmiotti: When Joe Quesada and I created Jane it was in the early nineties and we had more of a bandaged look to her, like a living mummy all decked out in red leather. I felt over the years to ground the character more, she would just wear clothing that worked with her personality and reflected her mood. Each artist has a different take on Jane and I try to let the artist take the character where they think it belongs. With Juan, it’s just the look I like and this was based on some sketches done by Amanda Conner.
Nrama: Painkiller Jane’s had three miniseries before this on her own, plus a number of crossovers – all are pretty hard to find on the market. Any chance this deal with Icon could see you bringing those older books back into print?
Palmiotti: For print, its going to be a while, but digital, we have most of them available at Paperfilms.com, our website. Right now the new issues on Comixology in the Icon section. I think we won’t be doing collections till the end of 2014.
Nrama: Seeing as we're here talking Painkiller Jane and it's here at Marvel where her other co-creator works (Hey Joe!), I have to ask: any chances we could see more of the Event alumni return to comics in the near future? Perhaps Jane's origin title 22 Brides, ol' Kid Death & Fluffy or even the big guy himself, Ash?
Palmiotti: Ash will not be done till Joe has time to do it…we have talked about this a few times. His job these days does not allow for much time off, as you could imagine. I think we will be seeing more of the brides soon in the pages of Painkiller Jane. As a matter of fact, by the end of the year, we will be seeing a lot of them. As far as Kid Death and Fluffy…if the right artist comes around, I am always open for more with them. I loved that silly comic.
Nrama: You've got a lot going on between this, Harley Quinn, Batwing, All-Star Western and your crop of Kickstarter-first books. How do you handle all of that and being a newly-married man?
Palmiotti: Amanda and what she wants and needs come first. Honestly, if she is happy, I am happy and I can get more work done. The great thing is I am working with two great writing partners and that makes all this so much easier. The bigger picture stuff is that I am a seriously hard worker that is trying to get better at his craft and this cannot happen sitting around thinking about things. I have to constantly push myself and not depend on others to get things done for me. I have something to prove…I am just not sure what it is other than trying my best to entertain people. As always though, my personal life and my time with Amanda always takes priority over my comic book work. It’s just the way it has been forever and being married to Amanda now hasn’t changed a thing about that.
Nrama: Prior to Harley Quinn debuting, the art contest raised some eyebrows and caused a political storm; now that we're a couple months removed from that, can you talk about experience for you there sitting at home in Florida as it all happened?
Palmiotti: I was at a convention at the time and saw the stories when I got back home. I saw that some people were upset and I wrote a small press release about the issue and after that, it went away. I think being clear and upfront always helps. A lot of what people react to initially is the headline or surface of a thing, and once something is explained in a mature way it becomes less of a focal point.
Nrama: And I may be putting you on the spot a bit, but you've written a number of great female heroes -- from Jane to Harley, to some recent classics like your run on Power Girl. Can you speak on the growing number of female heroes being represented in comics and not in a simply salacious manner, and how you approach writing women as a man yourself?
Palmiotti: I think the number of female heroes will grow as the female audience grows and I love that . I think everyone should have a voice in comics and this past year we have seen some new and amazing talents come out and shine in and out of the mainstream books.
I approach writing women and men the same, as intelligent beings in a story. To me, the women in my life are all strong people and this comes through in all my characters. Jane, Harley and Power Girl all have one thing in common, and it’s the thing we all have in common… trying to find their way in the world around them. If you look at these characters, I have pretty much put them all in the same circumstances when introducing them to new readers. They are stepping into a new place/surrounding…trying to make friends/co-workers and fitting their superhero antics in-between all of that. With a character like Jane, it’s my job to go a bit over the top with language, nudity and violence…I have always written her for an adult audience and will continue to do so.