For Paul Jenkins, the DC's New 52 titles are providing him with a renewed creative opportunity in a structure he enjoys the most.
The writer, best known in comics for his work on Spider-Man, The Sentry and The Inhumans for Marvel, has now been attached to three of DC's new ongoing series: DC Universe Presents, Batman: The Dark Knight, and now Stormwatch, which he's writing for at least two issues.
In most interviews Newsarama has done with Jenkins during the last 10 years, the writer has made it clear that he doesn't enjoy the practice of writing five- to six-issue stories that fit into trade paperbacks — something known in the industry as "writing for the trade."
"If you look back at my time with Marvel Knights, even my time on Hellblazer, and Spider-Man, and the Hulk, I used to love doing single-issue stories all the time. I think it's a little bit of where I shine," the writer told Newsarama earlier this year.
Now, with the New 52, his shorter, one- or two-issue stories are finding a home. And the latest DC home for such a story is Stormwatch, which he's taking over for two issues starting in March with issue #7.
The British writer replaces another Brit, Paul Cornell, who launched the title in September, utilizing the comic as a way to mix the former WildStorm characters into the DC Universe.
The two-issue run is described by DC as a sci-fi story: "When a scientific experiment tears a hole in the barrier between dimensions, miners from a forbidden universe arrive to steal Earth's gravity," and Stormwatch has to stop them.
But Jenkins told Newsarama he's also introducing new characters in the story and will be exploring what happens when a 12-year-old has the power to destroy worlds.
In the first of a two-part interview with Jenkins, Newsarama talked with the writer about what he plans to bring to Stormwatch.
Newsarama: Paul, what go you interested in working on Stormwatch?
Paul Jenkins: What I find really intriguing about it is that the story of these characters has a big scale to it. It's got pure science fiction elements. And it's fun. And it gives creators an opportunity -- I know this sounds really weird, because we do comics, right? So we think outside the box all the time. But this particular set of characters allows you to think outside the box big time, with ideas both big and small.
The reason I say that is that I think it's a series that allows you to be quirky as much as anything else. You can do interesting things that are somewhat quirky and unique, you know? They don't have always have to be big science fiction ideas. They can sometimes just be a character driven bit that's interesting and has a quirky kind of character attached to it.
I used to tell people that, if someone said, "Would you like to write Iron Man?" I think my answer might be, "No." Not because there's anything wrong with the character, but it would be difficult for me to think what to do with him, you know? But I can see a million things to do with these characters.
So I had a chance to talk with Jim Lee and say, "Here's how I think Stormwatch works." And work with the editors a little bit. And then come with ideas that are both big and quirky. And it seems to be the way that Stormwatch was done in the past, so hopefully, we'll do some good things.
Nrama: Are you hoping to shake the team up once you come in?
Jenkins: No, I'm not shaking it up. There are two schools of thought how you do this when you're moving on from somebody else. I think that what Paul Cornell has done has been cool and interesting. And I'm not the kind of person who feels like I have to now stamp myself on it by changing it.
Why not come on board and keep the continuity of what's been established already and just work with it? That's just as valid and interesting, I think.
Of course, there will be my takes on the characters and this will be a story I want to explore with these characters, so I'll end up putting my own stamp on it. And in fact, I've talked to DC about a couple of new characters. I have a couple in mind. It depends how long term we go.
Nrama: Yeah, because you're just on the book for a couple issues, right?
Jenkins: That's right. Initially I'm coming to do two issues, and we'll see what happens after that. We'll find out how much we like working with each other, and we'll see if Stormwatch fits me and whether my ideas fit with their editorial vision for the book. And if so, maybe we'll do more. But at the moment, we've got a pretty cool two-issue arc laid out.
Nrama: You've got the science fiction element with the miners stealing Earth's gravity, but if I know you, you're going to be also doing some character exploration in these issues.
Jenkins: Well, this is going to sound odd, since it's only a two-issue story, but what I'm trying to do is build for the future, creating some characters that could be used again. I'm interested in doing a set of characters that might be important in the future.
So we have this bigger science idea that you mentioned, with the Earth's gravity. But besides the amazing science fiction things we do in comics, I like to think about, what's interesting about the people? And I find the idea of a 12-year-old girl who has the power to crush a planet really intriguing. I think if you take a little girl like that and don't properly socialize her, she might be the most dangerous person in the universe.
So you take the Engineer, who's a young woman, and she may have to, say, take the girl under her wing as a leader. One of the things about the Engineer is she's the type of person who will do whatever it takes to do it properly and get it done.
I think that the Engineer felt like she should be the leader. So now, she's in the position of, be careful what you wish for. I feel like her reaction is, OK, I've gotten what I asked for, and now I've got to get it right. She rolls up her sleeves and doesn't worry about being the leader, because she always thought she should be. Now she's going to get it done.
Nrama: You're contributing to several of DC's New 52 comics. Was that something that you wanted to do?
Jenkins: I want to get involved simply because the projects interest me. To me, what I find really intriguing about the New 52, is that I think they took what you might consider to be a risk. I've always been a bit of a risk taker. I feel like Marvel Knights was a bit of a risk, you know? They handed the keys to the castle to a bunch of people like us, and we did these interesting comics, and it changed the landscape of Marvel.
But what DC has done is committed to digital delivery. That means you cannot be late with a book. You cannot, because now, what do you do? It means that you're drawing new eyeballs to the comic book industry, and you'd better provide them with a type of book that's not along the same standard lines of what's already been done. You'd better give a new audience the ability to read the books for the first time and still be engaged by it. And not necessarily cross-eyed with the continuity.
And that's me. That's my profile. I talked with Bob Harras and Eddie Berganza and with Dan DiDio and Jim Lee and some of the guys and said, "Look, I think it's exciting. I'd love to be a part of it."
I just finished up the Deadman stuff [in DC Universe Presents], we've got Stormwatch coming on, I've got the Dark Knight thing going on, but there are other things in discussion and in the works. And I feel really infused by it.
I really enjoyed my time at Marvel. I did it for a long time. But for awhile, I think, I'm going to be doing DC. I love doing it. I'm really excited about the way that they're publishing, because I think they're going into areas that I would want to go into. And I appreciate them taking the risk to do it.
Nrama: I remember us discussing a few years ago how much you hated writing for the trade. That your stories didn't fit into six-issue story arcs. Does the digital audience offer an outlet that doesn't depend on that as much as print?
Jenkins: Yes. And I've received some editorial direction from DC not to write storylines for the trade, and I love that.
And I've even pitched single-issue stories to DC. I've actually been very vocal with DC saying that I think single issues are a huge part of what they should do. If you recall my run on Spider-Man, I did single issue stories all the time. We didn't write for the trades. We did single, self-contained stories that were really cool and fun. I've had people bring me the same two or three Spider-Man issues for years and have said, "This affected me tremendously. I love this one issue story."
Why are single-issue stories always seen as being filler? Why? That's always bothered me. I've even pitched a single-issue story that I'd really like to do in Dark Knight.
Nrama: Before we talk about Dark Knight, is there anything else you want to tell readers about what you're hoping to bring to Stormwatch?
Jenkins: Just that I'm excited about writing this book. I'm interested in bringing some of that scale to the book that people remember from the old series, while also exploring how the characters relate to each other on this crazy old ship that orbits the earth. I'm going for cool factor, and I hope people really enjoy what I'm doing.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!