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Inside Look: Painkiller Jane #1

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After her TV series started airing on the Sci Fi channel in late April, Painkiller Jane has finally made her return to the medium where she first started shooting bad guys down. With Painkiller Jane #1 having reached stores this past Wednesday through Dynamite Entertainment, character co-creator and series writer Jimmy Palmiotti took a seat in the director’s chair for some behind-the-scenes comments on the debut issue.

The solicitation for Painkiller Jane #1 reads:

Jane is back! The creative team of Joe Quesada, Jimmy Palmiotti and Lee Moder return for an all-new Painkiller Jane event! Picking up from the explosive events of issue #0, PKJ #1 hits the ground running as Jane faces international terrorists and the introduction of a brand new character - "The Infidel" who will change her world forever!

This issue is a bit of a departure in some ways and exactly the kind of book it should be in other ways. More adult, more extreme and more of the character Joe Quesada and I created over a decade ago. What I am presenting here is pages 5-10. The first few are a recap of the 25 cent book that came out last month and really just cover how Jane got from a blown up building into a subway car full of seemingly ordinary people heading into Manhattan from Brooklyn on a work week day.

Joe and I came up with the overall plot of this book and I took the lead and handled the writing which we are now going to go over a bit. This book is set in the real world…a world where Jane is the closest thing to a superhero they have.

PAGE FIVE

Painkiller Jane is the main character and 90% of the time we are seeing the world around her through her eyes which is represented in caption boxed with a red outline. On the TV show, its one of the few things they kept making it a voice over which translates much better than floating boxes of dialogue on screen. [Laughs]

Anyway, we open the page with a continuation of the last where Jane is looking around the train guessing what kinds of lives these random people have and mentally comparing hers to theirs. We all do this at times… try to understand others and what makes them tick. This particular page we see her eyeing a guy and noticing he has something wrong with him… something beyond the stress lines and sweat in an air-conditioned subway car. Panel 3 we see Jane trying to be optimistic, but that gets killed quickly. We see the guy pulling out an oxygen mask, note the small gas pellets on the mask, and then pulling out what is known as a condensed chlorine gas… yes, its real and yes, it can be bought and altered. We want this to be believable, right?

As you can also tell visually, Lee has kept Jane all nice and bloody because unlike that heroes chick, Jane takes some time to heal from her wounds…which explains why gauze bandages are the norm for her. After this scene I am going to start to get away from that look for the character. It’s a bit silly.

Last panel, Jane reacts how she should and freaks out. She doesn’t know exactly it is, but she knows it’s bad. Artist note: see outside the windows? The beginning is them going over the bridge and into the tunnel under the city, and the dark is the tunnel hitting and later we will come up on canal. I have to make sure stuff like this is true to life… and the truth is in the details.

PAGE SIX

Did I explain that Jane lost most of her clothing in the explosion and borrowed an ambulance driver’s shirt? Well, that explains why she is pant-less. She was headed home. Back to page 6.

The bad guy breaks the vial and Jane jumps into action. In reality, this gas is heavier than air, but this strain is actually lighter which we explain later in the story and in usual hero fashion Jane yell’s out the ‘get on the floor’ command to the civilians. Next we see the people reacting and notice in the next car on the train out new character the infidel watching. You know this is bad stuff if it will make a businessman drop his beloved computer. Jane then strikes the bad guy in his stomach which would cause the oxygen in the mask and his whole system to go wacky and take him out of the equation for a minute while she uses her brain and thinks about what to do next.

When writing this type of situation, I really try to think of what would I do… and actually Joe said to bash the windows and he as dead right. It’s the hero thing to do and self preservation is important as well. We set up construction guys earlier in the story so having the tool box there works in the fact that Jane is fast thinker and uses her environment.

PAGE SEVEN

Jane ventilates the train, we show the gas leaving the windows and the bad guy makes an escape. Really, this whole scene is shot for shot how I would have directed it if it was a film, down to the camera angles of the staircase and so on. You will notice I have Jane NOT taking the wrench with her out of the train because it would have set up a completely different scene with the cops, her running with a weapon and no pants.

I didn’t want Jane to be irresponsible to those left behind so I added this scene where she is trying to get them help yet continue the chase. I think it works smoothly with lees beautiful pencils and as you can see in the last panel, that mysterious woman shows up again.

PAGE EIGHT

This is a fun page because we finally get to see where the gas released is actually starting to hit Jane.

Panel one is an important establishing panel for anyone who hasn’t ventured to New York and doesn’t understand that the subway is below the street. Sounds dumb I know, but you would be surprised how many people haven’t. It also shows Canal Street which is one of the busiest streets in NYC. See the guy with the two shopping bags in his hands? That’s as much a landmark as the empire state building. Next Jane throws up… [Laughs] Again, something we don’t generally see a main character do and Simon’s lettering only enhances the experience.

Next panel, Jane is embarrassed and strikes at the guy with an obvious dig. That’s human nature and especially Jane’s. It makes her look petty and she is at that moment. Last panel, a bit of storytelling going on here and you can see what’s next coming a mile away and lee nails it dead on. Again, some great storytelling on lee’s part and why I like his work so much. It’s clear and precise.

PAGE NINE

I hate when that happens, except to others. Man hits delivery guy, noodles go flying. Jane begins to lose it, again, the effect of the gas hitting home, slowing her down and the bad guy, well panel 2 shows him with some noodles on his noodle.

Panel 3 and 4 are, again, simple and direct. Man distracted by girl in underwear trying to kill her and truck hits him. His leg takes a great deal of abuse and in panel 5 he is down but not out. Jane herself is losing it and is finally losing conciseness. Her body language is classic for the ‘ I am blacking out" look she is sporting and the last panel has every emotion in the world in her face…a desperate almost gone look that only a good artist could nail.

Again, Lee is a comic book god.

PAGE TEN

Simple 4 panel page showing the new character the infidel coming up to our bad guy, saying something we cannot hear and then stabbing the guy and killing him, all before our eyes and more importantly it’s shot from Painkiller Jane’s point of view which makes the scene that much more creepier, especially since the last panel she turns to Jane and thanks her in a weird way and the world goes black.

I wanted this to look stage like and surreal at the same time with the even panels. The bleak no way out quality gets across the hopelessness of this guy’s situation and backs up how cold and cruel this new character can be to stab a guy to death as he begs for his life. It works for me on a number of levels and defines the infidel in a few simple strokes.

For the rest, please go out and pick up the book, out now in all the finer comic shops out there. If they don’t have it… open your mouth and demand PAINKILLER JANE #1.

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