JENKINS Tackles Deadman & Existentialism in DCU PRESENTS

Jenkins Tackles Deadman & Existentialism

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Deadman has been a busy character these past couple of years, having become very un-dead at the end of Blackest Night, and then returning to his traditional, bony, state during the conclusion of Brightest Day.

He'll be taking a starring role in the first five-issue arc of anthology title DC Universe Presents, one of the 52 new DC series starting in September following Flashpoint. The arc is written by Paul Jenkins, making his return to DC after a few years away from the publisher, and illustrated by Bernard Chang.

Newsarama talked with Jenkins a bit about DC Universe Presents, which he said is only the first of multiple projects he has in the works with DC. Jenkins compares the current creative environment at the publisher with the early days of Marvel Knights, where he wrote the Eisner Award-winning maxiseries Inhumans. And like in Newsarama's recent chat with the writer about Ka-Zar, it's clear that he's approaching the book on several levels: According to Jenkins, Deadman isn't just a classic DC superhero, he's also a "great way to examine existentialism."

Newsarama: Paul, you're writing the Deadman story in DC Universe Presents starting post-Flashpoint in September. It's been a while since you've worked for DC,  your last work for them being Batman: Jekyll and Hyde back in 2005. What made now the time to come back?

Paul Jenkins: I think one of the things that happens is, creatively, it's always good to be able to move to different things, and things that are interesting. I really relish the opportunity to be able to go back to DC after having been away for quite some time, and say, "Man, let me have a bash at some of these things. These are great!"

I love the idea of Deadman. What a great metaphor, what a great way to examine existentialism. To which many comic fans would of course roll their eyes and say, "Oh my god, what's Jenkins doing with Deadman?" But you know, it's done in the form of an adventure-type of story, but it's really about questioning our place in the universe. What is death? How does death work? It's something that we all deal with and all think of constantly, and it basically drives almost every decision that we make; the fact that we're going to die, and/or avoid death one day.

DC has this incredible stable of characters, and it's a really exciting time to be around those guys right now, because it feels like Marvel Knights used to feel when we started doing that.

Nrama: It certainly seems like an exciting time to be working at DC, given the attention-grabbing moves they're making this fall.

Jenkins: Yeah, it really is. I think there's some great stuff going on. I'm working closely with a couple of editors over there on some material, and Deadman's the first one we're going to bring out. The editors are great, it's a refreshing situation for me, so I get creatively juiced about moving into some characters that I don't know — almost into a creative environment that I haven't been familiar with for the last few years.

I promised [DC co-publisher] Dan DiDio over the last few years — I would always see him at conventions, be real friendly with Dan because he's a good guy, and say, "Hey man, how you doing?" He'd always say, "Are you going to wind your way back to us?" The answer was, "I will, I'm just really happy working at Marvel." Yeah, I really do want to come back at some point, and this seems to be the point, you know?

Nrama: And for art, you're working with Bernard Chang, correct?

Jenkins: Yeah, he's real good. In fact, I think Bernard is really happy. I called him up on the phone, and said, "Hey man, would you like to go through a couple of ideas with me?" Bernard seemed kind of confused, like, "What, are you calling me to ask me my opinion?" I love to work with creators, I love to find out how artists are going to realize these scripts, and things they're visually interested in. Because if I provide that opportunity to them, and they draw the lights out of the books, it makes me look good. So basically, I'm cynically using artists the world over for the last 20 years. [Laughs.]

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