For his next AfterShock Comics series, writer Garth Ennis has turned once more to the world of spycraft for a story centered round a suave, stylish super-spy who always gets his man – and his woman. Meet Jimmy Regent, Britain’s newest blue-blooded vanguard against vaguely foreign threats to the country.
Jimmy’s Bastards offers a satirical look at the life of the super-spy in popular fiction, and how that lifestyle of booze, broads and bullets would in reality probably lead to a number of worrying results. Over 300 of them, in fact, as the series reveals that Jimmy’s lifestyle has seen him father a legion of bastards who are all out for one thing – his blood. With Ennis reteaming once again with frequent collaborator Russ Braun for this new series, CBR spoke to the writer about the, uh, conception of Jimmy’s Bastards, and just what kind of profane, bloody madness readers can expect when it launches in June.
CBR: Jimmy Regent, the lead of the series, obviously takes off James Bond, but what kind of a character is he here? Who is he, beyond the suave spy stereotype?
Garth Ennis: Bond is the obvious starting point for characters like this, but on the other hand Bond is a nasty piece of work- not just a cold-blooded killer but an out and out misogynist, I think there’s a line in the first novel about how he likes sex “with the tang of rape”. So I tried to make Jimmy into a rather more likable character, who doesn’t take his role as a government-employed killer too seriously and who actually enjoys the company of women.
He’s witty, easy-going, kind to children and small animals – not very realistic, maybe, but then neither’s Bond, whose world bears no resemblance to the reality of espionage and black ops at all. Jimmy’s someone you’d actually enjoy spending time with.
You’re no stranger to satire, but who do you feel are your primary targets in this series? What led you to put this story together?
Running through the story is a lighthearted (ish) critique of current social and political commentary, wherein some of the ways in which the political left expresses itself comes in for a bit of a bashing. These are people I want to see succeed, but I worry they undermine themselves with the sometimes extremely pompous manner in which they respond to the world.
An obvious example would be the appalling phrase “politically correct”, which was horribly self-righteous to begin with but has now rebounded on its original exponents, who’ve ended up simply handing the bad guys a stick with which to beat them. Its modern equivalent seems to be the even more dreadful “problematic”. If you’re going to express disgust, don’t be polite about it.
One thing that frequently come across in your work is that you’re actively looking to make sure you cover all bases – you’re not writing for one side or another, you’re presenting everything as flawed and everything as up for mockery. Is that something you wanted to play into here?
I think it’s safe to say this is a pretty humorous tale with few sacred cows left unmolested.
For this new series you’re pairing Jimmy up with a new handler, whose role will be to try and keep him under control. How do the authorities view him? Where does he stand amidst the upper classes?
Jimmy has no handler, just a new partner, Nancy McEwan – probably my favorite character to write, who’s going to become very important to our hero in a way he’s not expecting. Jimmy can’t really be handled anyway; his employers keep him around because he’s so good at what he does, and in exchange they’re willing to overlook some of his little excesses.
As for the upper classes, he stands very much as one of them.
His bed-notches are set to catch up to him, though – if the title weren’t already a clue, he’s going to find himself face to face with 200 of his pissed-off kids. How do they play into the series?
I think it’s more like three hundred. United in their loathing of the man who gave them life but then immediately pissed off and left them to it, they’ve decided to Get Daddy. The plan they’ve come up with to do it is something of a doozy, possibly one completely new to comics. I’d be delighted to see it adopted as a supervillain “trope”.
You’re working once more with artist Russ Braun, a frequent collaborator, for the series. What’s it like working with him? What do you feel his style as an artist brings to your particular style as a writer?
Russ is exactly the kind of artist I like to work with: smart, reliable, excellent storyteller, thinks hard about imagery in terms of how it relates to the overall narrative. He’s old school, in other words, very much in the Steve Dillon mold. I think of him the way I do people like Goran Parlov, Craig Cermak, Raulo Caceres, Jacen Burrowes, Carlos Ezquerra, Peter Snejbjerg and so on- different styles but the same basic philosophy.
Jimmy’s Bastards is the second book you’re launching with AfterShock, which seems to be becoming a pretty solid working relationship. What’ve they been like to work with, as a company?
Just what i’m looking for- good deal, good money, creative freedom, attention to detail, very professional, highly competent. And good people, pleasant to spend time with.
You’ve recently been working across a range of different publishers – books with Dynamite, DC, Marvel. Is that reflective of how you’re enjoying working in the industry right now – in telling distinct, shorter stories and then moving on to something new?
I like spreading my eggs around a few different baskets, building relationships with people I can go back to when I feel the time is right. I’m at my most comfortable when I’m able to determine how long a story will be or whether or not there’ll be more of it; so it’s up to me whether something’s a one-off (Caliban, Rover Red Charlie) or part of an occasional but ultimately finite series (Red Team, The Night Witches, The Tankies).
So right now Avatar, AfterShock, Dynamite and Dark Horse all pretty much give me what I’m looking for. As for Marvel and DC, it’s certainly nice to drop in now and again and do more Punisher and Section Eight, and so long as I have friends at the two majors I imagine that’ll continue to be the case.
Jimmy’s Bastards arrives in June.