Mild-mannered housewife by day, violent vigilante by night, Jennifer Blood has been living up to her surname, with the first arc of the Garth Ennis-created series from Dynamite Entertainment filled with the unsettling juxtaposition of normalcy and slaughter. With the first storyline wrapping up with issue #6, “Judge Dredd” veteran writer Al Ewing is ready to continue blazing the trail that Ennis began, joining artist Marcos Marz.
While there are a number of uncertainties about the end of “Jennifer Blood’s” fledgling arc, Ewing was kind enough to take some time to address the future of the series and his tenure on the series beginning in August, Jennifer’s role in a post-anti-Blutes campaign, Sunday with Jen’s oblivious family, and what kinds of waffles fans can expect from her in the coming days.
CBR News: Al, you're taking over the helm of "Jennifer Blood" for the second arc of the book - can you give us an idea of the general state of Jennifer's world after the first arc?
Al Ewing: Those who've seen the solicit will know that the campaign against the Blutes is over by #7. Did she get them all? Has her home life been compromised? Were there any witnesses? Did she make any mistakes that are going to haunt her? You’ll have to read the rest of Garth’s issues to find out.
Moving forward, what's the general idea behind your upcoming story?
One thing Garth returned to again and again in the opening arc of “Jennifer Blood” is the idea that certain tropes of fiction just don’t work in the real world. Silencers make noise, et cetera. I thought I’d take that and apply it to the biggest trope of all—the idea that when the movie ends, the story is over.
Usually, in the revenge story, the hero or heroine gets their revenge and that’s it, the end. The audience doesn’t get to see the fallout. For example, what’s Jen going to do with the massive arsenal of death she’s concealed behind a camouflaged wall in the basement? What effect is Valium withdrawal going to have on a five-year-old? Did anyone get the number of that SUV? You know the one, the one that’s a treasure house of evidence in the murder of Nick Blute?
And so on. You can’t do things on the scale Jen’s been doing them without some of it coming back to bite you. I don’t think you should be able to either, even in fiction. Actions have consequences, and there are costs to pay.
What can you tell us about Jen's Sunday routine?
Part of Jen’s character is that she’s sort of fetishized the idea of the American suburban picket-fence existence as a reaction against the darkness she grew up with, and that includes Church with her husband and kids, and a big Sunday meal. Also making sure her massive arsenal of death is properly stowed away, there aren’t any missing witnesses to any terrifying massacres she may or may not have committed, and nobody saw her driving away from said hypothetical massacres in the same SUV she uses to take the kids to school and also disembowel people.
Did I mention that she hasn’t slept yet? She hasn’t slept yet. So that needs to happen before she passes out and has to explain why. It’s a rich, full day.
What kinds of challenges do you have planned for Jen now that her war against the Blutes is over?
Some of the people she’s killed when she didn’t have to had families. Rich, powerful families with connections to private military companies - people she really shouldn’t have pissed off. They want revenge, and they’ve got the resources to get it. So there’s that.
Then there’s the ongoing police investigation, which is getting closer and closer and more and more serious, and Jen’s own family, who could unwittingly blow the whistle on her at any time. How far is she willing to go to prevent that? We’ll find out.
Not to mention the astonishing engine of power known as Nathan Lazarr. Call him by his spirit name—exploding hyper wolf! With teeth of fire!
Jennifer's character has evolved a bit since readers picked up issue #1. How do you plan to continue or expand that evolution in your upcoming arc?
Now that the revenge part is done with, it’s all about cleanup—getting back to that "normal" life at least part of her is craving. But once the worms are out of the can, it’s hard to get them all back in, and that cold, pragmatic side of her just seems to keep getting colder and more pragmatic.
Obviously with every issue I write, I know the plot going in, but the characters still have the capacity to surprise me, and when writing Jen I have periods where I'm a little freaked out what she’s doing - but then, no other decision on her part feels quite right, somehow. It’s nice when characters do that.
I’m on the book for the foreseeable future, so I can confidently state that she’s going to be getting into some very murky moral mazes as the series goes on, as well as the violent hi-jinks and occasional absurdities people have come to expect.
As a writer, what appeals to you about Jennifer's character and universe? Why do you think readers can connect with her?
There’s a bit of a link between her and the other character I love to write, Judge Dredd, in that they both have terrible flaws that they don’t recognize in themselves. They’re both convinced that whatever they’re doing can be justified, no matter how far it goes. They’re both the headliners of their respective books, but not necessarily the heroes.
Unlike Dredd, she’s at least trying to be a normal person—or what she imagines "normal" is. So it’s someone trying to hold their home and their family and their life together in difficult circumstances, and readers can relate to that.
And at the same time, there’s a line where "I feel like that sometimes" becomes "I would never do that… would I?" It’ll be interesting to see where that line is for the individual reader.
While much of the first six issues involved the violence of Jen's vigilante double-life, there was also quite a bit of her domestic housewife life as well. How do you plan to continue that trend for your story?
The double life is a necessity—if she slips up even slightly, everyone’s going to pay for it. She’d be getting the death penalty, Andrew would go to Oz to become Beecher II: Beecherer because no judge in the world would believe he wasn’t an accessory, the kids would be taken into care, Jack would get a book deal, all these awful things would happen. One tiny slip and everything she cares for is gone forever.
So we’ll get more of her juggling her two lives, and if you juggle with fire, you will eventually get burned. I’ve seen it happen, in circuses.
The solicit mentioned waffles. What kind of waffles are we talking, here?
Waffles of vengeance, made from the Jaguar Shark that murdered my friend.