At the beginning of 2011, readers were introduced to Jennifer Blood, a ruthless vigilante who had to get home in time to make breakfast for the kids. Created by Garth Ennis, Dynamite Entertainment's ongoing "Jennifer Blood" title follows the ruthless killer by night and unassuming housewife by day as she performs vigilante acts of violence, making her presence and mission known throughout the criminal underworld.
Ennis' run finished with Issue #6 and the torch was passed to 2000AD veteran scribe Al Ewing. Alongside artist Kewber Baal, Ewing will take Jennifer to new, gruesome heights -- and in February with artist Eman Casallos, Ewing ushers the spinoff book "The Ninjettes" to shelves, a title featuring the female wetworks team introduced in "Jennifer Blood" #4.
Ennis told CBR News he's looking forward to seeing how the series develops in Ewing's hands as much as any reader. "Al's one of the best of the current crop of 2000AD writers, along with Si Spurrier and Rob Williams – a British sensibility not a million miles from my own. I read his outline, made a couple of suggestions and left him to it," the writer said. "It's Al's Baby, his to run with. I knew it would continue in some form, but hadn't given it much thought beyond that. I only had one story in me, so I'm happy to let go now. It's essentially a pretty funny concept you can get a lot out of." Asked whether he ever envisioned the Ninjettes as the stars of their own comic, Ennis admitted "No, but it's very natural. They're the standout characters. The rest are just mob thugs."
Ewing spoke at length with CBR News about his upcoming tenure on "Jennifer Blood" and "The Ninjettes," the crossover potential between the two books, what the future holds for Jen and the writer's favorite artery.
CBR News: Al, your first installment of "Jennifer Blood" hit earlier this month and your new spinoff series, "The Ninjettes," was announced in Dynamite's February solicits. How long has the "Ninjettes" book been in the works and what's the plan for it moving forward?
Al Ewing: It's been in the works for a while now. I did a couple of pitches for it earlier in the year. Basically, it's an origin story for the Ninjettes concept, which is invented by a trio of slightly sociopathic college girls before being passed on -- in circumstances which are too bizarre to relate here, but which you'll be able to read about in full in "The Ninjettes" itself -- to a trio of wetworks professionals who've fallen into disrepute. The Ninjettes brand is their ticket back into the exciting world of international assassinations.
How will "The Ninjettes" interact with "Jennifer Blood?" Will there be a lot of room for crossover here?
Not that much to start with. The big crossover is the first arc of both books, really, in that the first six issues of "Ninjettes" are all leading up to "Jennifer Blood" #4, which is where the original Ninjettes get killed. Then, my first arc in Jennifer Blood's own book involves the fallout from that, because there are people out there who feel that, perhaps, all being equal, their daughters shouldn't have been shot in the head by a vengeance-fueled maniac. And who have the means to bring their criticism to her attention. With a big gun. So, there's that. After that, though, we run into problems with the timescale of both series. "Jennifer Blood" has that one-issue-is-one-day structure that I love, while "The Ninjettes" will be running in more conventional comic time -- close to real time, even. So, increasingly, after that first arc, the Ninjettes will be traveling into Jennifer Blood's FUTURE! Uture, uture, uture -- Which isn't to say that "Jennifer Blood" won't jump forward in time at any point, or that the two series won't synch up again down the road. Anything's possible.
What's the general concept of "The Ninjettes" and who are the key players?
The general concept is an all-female team of somewhat ninja-esque assassins traveling the world and getting into big and insane adventures involving jet-black humor and plenty of grand guignol. There's quite a big cast in the opening arc, but the first issue focuses on the Ninjette leaders: Kelly, the damaged child of a corrupt Senator who sees no obvious problem with hiring an assassin to murder journalists, political opponents and members of her own family, and Varla, the assassin in question who is, to put it bluntly, a few sandwiches short of a full picnic.
How much collaboration have you had with Garth Ennis on the creation and direction of "Ninjettes?"
Of course, Garth invented the Ninjettes, and the whole of the origin story is based on what he wrote in "Jennifer Blood" #4, so I am very much working from his design.
I've been left to my own devices for the most part. Garth did make some suggestions regarding the Ninjettes. Most of those inspired the second arc of "Jennifer Blood," but there's one he mentioned when we met up at NYCC, which I'm taking on board for the future. You'll have to guess what those might have been as you read.
When we spoke with you previously about your plans for Jen, you discussed the fallout of her bloody campaign against the Blutes. How will you be continuing the idea of her as a constantly evolving character through that arc onto the next?
Well, obviously, we're now talking about things that are quite a bit in the future as far as readers are concerned, but I can reveal that all is not quite as rosy in the Fellows marriage as Jen thinks. Also, she makes a very bitter enemy as a result of upcoming events that might just lead to -- no, let's cut it there. I've said enough.
Jen's double life is a constant challenge; if she slips up, there will be huge consequences for everyone she interacts with. How will she struggle to keep her secret from her family and friends during this upcoming arc?
This arc is all about her trying to close the lid on the can of worms she opened. At first it seems like she's got everything fully under control -- except she's underestimated the amount of worms, and the mounting sleep deprivation she's suffering has made her create a few extra worms of her own. Worms! Anyway, over time, her tactics for keeping the damn can shut start to get a little -- riskier than she'd ordinarily like. Firing a rocket launcher into a house-risky. That kind of risky.
Judging by the solicitation info for the end-of-arc issue #12, it looks like there could be a surprise death in store for the cast of the book. Who is most likely headed for the chopping block?
No spoilers! But I will say that a couple of the deaths are very close to home for Jen.
Finally, now that you're really delving into this world that Garth created for both "Jennifer Blood" and "Ninjettes," what have you found to be the biggest challenge about further exploring it?
Keeping that sense of reality going. During Garth's run, something that cropped up again and again was the idea that action movie tropes just don't function in the real world. I've got to make sure I keep that up -- you can have Judge Dredd shot in the arm and leg and soldiering bravely on, but if you tried that in the Jennifer Blood universe, he'd lose his arm and bleed out through his femoral artery. (My favorite artery, as it happens.) I've got to make sure I've got the little things right -- how bullets work, how guns work. All the things you can usually cheat a little bit.
"The Ninjettes" debuts in February while "Jennifer Blood" continues in January.