Imagination Overdrive: Jenkins talks "Mythos," "Sentry," "Hulk: Ultimate Destruction" & More

Thu, May 12th, 2005 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

Paul Jenkins's imagination is working over time. In addition to a movie script, and the limited series "Batman: Jekyll and Hyde" the writer has a number of comic related projects in the works including "Mythos," a limited series on the origins of Marvel's greatest heroes, a "Grand Theft Auto" style free roaming Hulk video game, another "Sentry" mini-series for Marvel, a Pitt/Darkness team up comic and a mind bending murder mystery set in the Vatican. CBR News spoke to Jenkins for the scoop on each of these projects.

"Mythos" is an eight issue limited series with fully painted art by Paolo Rivera. The project came about as a way to bridge the gap between the comic book origins of Marvel's characters and the film origins. "Most people who have seen the 'X-Men' movie have not read the 'X-Men' comic book," Jenkins told CBR News. "What that does is it really creates this contradiction. I know that Marvel would really love to be able to bring their comic books into the awareness of most everyone else. Because obviously if they can sell more comic books that would be great. So it kind of fell to Paolo and I and the task was to be reverent and understanding of what the comics have already been. Then take the film stuff and then add a piece of what we believe is part of it to and do in a sense an origin to all of the main characters in Marvel."

One new twist Jenkins added was demonstrating new uses for the powers of certain characters. "Magneto is a guy who has in some ways the right intentions, but just the wrong way of going about it," Jenkins explained. "One of his abilities was to take all of the metal inside a person's body and extract it. So he does that. When a person has no magnesium, no iron in the hemoglobin of their blood, nothing metallic inside their body, they're done. They'll suffocate. A particularly grotesque way to die, but he didn't really care."

Another new twist is the appearances of certain characters. "Some of the looks of the characters, I'm sure are based on the discussions Paola and I have had. Iceman particularly I think will be a good looking character."

"Mythos" is an incredibly difficult assignment for Jenkins. "Seriously it's one of the hardest comics I've ever written because I grew up reading Stan's stories," Jenkins said. "I like some aspects of the films very much. I think they definitely added whether people who are purists say no or not. So that's quite difficult because of just the absolute sort of continuity differences between one thing and the next. How do you reconcile them? Its a matter of choosing those things and then if you choose them and they really just contradict I think the way to do it is use a piece of ingenuity of our own to bridge that gap."

Jenkins says it remains uncertain whether or not "Mythos" fits at all into Marvel continuity. "We're hoping it does in a sense that it's not a rehash, it's not a rework. I think the only one that's going to be problematic in a sense is Spider-Man because of the web shooter issues for fans. We haven't done that issue yet. I'm inclined to want to do pieces of both in a sense. Because it just really makes sense to write these stories in a really interesting way that appeals to the people who have seen the movies."

"The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction" Concept Art by Bryan Hitch.
The characters featured in Mythos will be the ones who are also film stars or slated to star in upcoming films. Jenkins isn't ruling out the possibility of tackling more characters in a sequel. "The ones that have been films and the ones that are probably going to be films," he said. "If we get to the end and we really like it we're gonna go again."

It will take Jenkins and Rivera awhile to get to the end of "Mythos." "This is really a labor of love," Jenkins said. "It's going to take quite some time for Paolo to paint all of these -- maybe three years or so. We're going to do eight initially. He's currently hard at work painting."

As a result, "Mythos" won't be released on a monthly schedule. "We would love to be able to bring each one out whenever they're ready," Jenkins said. "When it's ready that's when it comes out. When another one is ready that comes out to. So we're just going to play it like that."

The ultimate goal of "Mythos" is for readers to have the origin of The Marvel Universe fit on their bookshelves. "Tom Brevoort, my editor had said, 'One day what we want is this beautifully fully painted set of books'," Jenkins explained, " 'that we can have this great hardcover of and say 'Look at this Marvel's origins. How about that.'"

While "Mythos" is a project featuring Marvel's older iconic characters, Jenkins is working on another project featuring Marvel's newest iconic character, The Sentry, a character that he created. "I've always thought you shouldn't go back," Jenkins said. "I'm not sure that I would really particularly want to do another 'Inhumans' series because people remember the first one fondly. But the Sentry, I created the Sentry. I only scratched the surface when we started it. We basically set up the premise."

The next "Sentry" mini-series will be eight issues and feature art by John Romita Jr. Jenkins was reluctant to give plot information as he did not want to spoil Brian Michael Bendis's upcoming "New Avengers" arc, which features the Sentry and leads into this new mini series. "We're going to do a story in which, if you thought that keeping The Sentry secret was a big deal, if you thought that was a big secret kept from the Marvel universe, wait till you find out the secret that's really going on," Jenkins explained. "It's much deeper and more profound than that."

Screenshots from "The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction"
Jenkins did drop hints about the dark secret to be revealed in the new "Sentry" mini-series. "We'll get to the absolute truth about why he became the Sentry. What it actually means. There's a big secret in there; a big, deep, dark secret of the Marvel Universe, that once people find out they'll go, 'Wow that's really kind of Earth shattering.' It means a lot to the universe. It's one of the reasons why the Sentry is so dangerous."

In the new "Sentry" series readers will not only learn more about the Sentry, but Rob Reynolds as well. "We're trying to talk about who the Sentry is, where he comes from, what kind of person he is, what is he capable of being?" Jenkins explained. "But then again, there's his fucked up little alter ego called Rob Reynolds and he's schizophrenic and he struggles. What we're going to do then is we're going to say given this incredibly powered person, this god amongst men, what's his personal life like?"

Jenkins is also hard at work on another project involving a Marvel character, one of the Sentry's friends, The Incredible Hulk. This isn't a comic book, though. Jenkins wrote "The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction" video game that will be released for all major consoles this summer from Vivendi Universal Games.

The developers of "Ultimate Destruction" selected Jenkins because of his run on "The Incredible Hulk." "Basically the guys who made the first Hulk, game, Radical, were quite big fans of my run," he said. "So they called me up and they said, 'We really like your stuff. We'd like you to come in and write this stuff."

When they recruited Jenkins, the game developers thought they had just recruited a comic book writer. "I actually like video games." Jenkins admitted. "I've been working in video games for some time and I understand the actual process. So I think they were very surprised by how closely I understood what to do, how to write for a video game."

For Jenkins writing a good video game means more than just creating a written story. "One of the first things that I did when I got there was to say, 'Guys, what you're asking me to do is to bring in not just a story, like a written story, but in a sense, I understand what you do is manipulate emotions," Jenkins explained. "You kind of engineer emotions. When you create a video game you want a player to feel this, to feel that. So the job of the writer is partly to make sure that you can continue to get the player to feel a certain emotion."

Jenkins felt the best way to get the players to feel the emotions he wanted was to give them choices. He describes the Hulk game as similar to other free roaming video games like "Grand Theft Auto." "In this one the only way to make sure that you could feel big enough to pick up a tank and smash down a building with it was also to have the ability to stand around on a street corner and basically scratch your nuts," Jenkins said. "If you could do that you could do the other. So because you choose to initiate, you choose to do all this stuff, you're the person that guides the game. So you do feel very big playing it."

What good is a free roaming rampage when there's nobody around to witness it? The developers of "Ultimate Destruction" have worked hard to create a virtual world that's alive, with lots of stuff going on in the background according to Jenkins, saying there's a greater sense of conflict with the word populated. The populace of "Ultimate Destruction" can also voice their opinions on the Hulk's rampage. "I did the in game dialogue," Jenkins said. "Every time you punch an artificial intelligence character it comes out with any one of 35 lines."

"Pitt/Darkness" #1,
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"Pitt/Darkness" #1,
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This isn't the first Hulk video game, but Jenkins believes that "Ultimate Destruction" is the best Hulk game ever made. "I play games. I play them quite often," Jenkins said. "I actually work in the game industry as well and I think this is probably going to be one of the best games that ever came out. It is so much fun."

The Hulk isn't the only character Jenkins is writing video games based on. "I'm actually writing the video game of 'The Darkness.' So I'm working with Starbreeze in Sweden and then there are other new properties that we want to do."

Jenkins is also chronicling the comic adventures of Top Cow's "The Darkness." His latest story has Jackie Estacado crossing paths with another Image Comics character, Dale Keown's Pitt. "I'm doing that with Dale Keown right now. People really like the version we did of 'The Darkness.' So he and I are doing I think three issues of Darkness and Pitt."

Readers shouldn't expect The Darkness and Pitt to hit it off. Pitt doesn't appreciate the effect Jackie Estacado has on his young friend, Tim. "This little kid, he's got the sensible adult in Pitt and kind of the wild teenager in Jackie Estacado," Jenkins said. "He's trying to work out, 'Who do I really admire?' Is it Pitt or is it Jackie? For instance when they first meet the little kid says, 'Can I have a cigarette?' and Jackie says, 'Yeah, all right.' And gives him one. Pitt says, 'Take it out.' Jackie sees Tim in a way that Pitt doesn't yet."

For Jenkins the way Tim views Pitt and The Darkness is the heart of the story, but it isn't the only thing going on in the story. "It's a battle between what kids really want and what they really understand," he explained. "That's my version of the story and of course there's friggin' zombies and all kinds of stuff."

"Revelations," a six-issue mini-series which begins in August from Dark Horse with art by Humberto Ramos, is a project Jenkins has wanted to do for a long time. "It's actually a labor of love," he told CBR News. "Humberto and I have wanted to do this book for a very long time, possibly close to three years."

Jenkins described "Revelations" as detective fiction with a very interesting slant. "Every time I hope that you get to the end of an issue you think, 'Hang on a minute. I thought I knew what was happening and now it's completely changed! It's got lots of twists and turns."

"Revelations" #1 "Revelations" #2
"Revelations" protagonist is called in to investigate a death in a very unusual place, The Vatican. "The main guy is a detective named Charlie Northern," Jenkins said. "He's sort of this London boy that's been on the force for many years. He used to be a Catholic and he gets a call from a buddy of his, who he knew when he was a kid, who is now a cardinal. There's been a murder. It looks like an accident. Once Charlie begins to investigate he begins to see that the chances of it being an accident are pretty slim and there's a lot going on behind the scenes."

The strange nature of the death takes Charlie's investigation through many mind-bending twists and turns. "The murder itself takes place under absolutely bizarre circumstances or the death we should say. It's such bizarre circumstances with so many elements that he can't make sense of that," Jenkins explained. "There are so many different permutations of what could actually be happening. He begins to uncover it and when he uncovers one it's like a scab and lots of different things come out at him."

Jenkins said that "Revelations" is not an attack on the Catholic Church. "I'm not a religious guy. I haven't been to church since I was 6. One thing that I always find a bit silly, and it happened when I was first on 'Hellblazer,' was people would sort of say if you put a Catholic priest in he has to be a child molester. As if in order to use Catholicism or any other kind of religions you had to make them all twisted and messed up. I don't agree with that. There are plenty of Catholic priests that are really nice people and very devout. So we show certain layers of this stuff. He's not fighting against the Catholic Church. He's trying to understand what's going on around him."

Jenkins was amazed by the art Humberto Ramos is producing for "Revelations." "Humberto is doing a style of art that is incredibly different from anything that he's done," Jenkins said. "Once people see this art they'll be amazed that this is Humberto. It's got elements of his usual style and it's got a technique that he's using that makes the thing seem like a fully painted version of Humberto. It's so cool. Its so amazing."

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