In 1980, theater goers were invited to visit Camp Crystal Lake for a little bit of R&R. What they got was horror, mayhem and a machete wielding maniac named Jason Voorhees. The movie was “Friday the 13th,” which became an instant part of American pop-culture which found teens and adults alike repeating the chant “Ch, Ch, Ch, Kill, Kill, Kill” with creepy regularity. The film launched a long running franchise which saw it’s 10th feature film made in 2001, “Jason X.” That last film in the series (thus far) introduced horror fans to an updated Jason or “Uber-Jason”– he sported a new look and a new machete for a new setting, a 25th century space station.
This February, maniacs collide in the two-issue mini-series “Jason vs. Jason X,” written and drawn by Mike Wolfer and published by Avatar Press. How is it that these two versions of Jason (who actually are one and the same) finally meet? And most importantly of all, who wins? CBR News caught up with Wolfer to learn the answer to those questions and more.
Wolfer explained that “Jason vs. Jason X” is a story about a man battling himself, both literally and figuratively, but it’s much more than just that. “What we have is a concept that goes way beyond the comic book slugfest that the title suggests and gives readers their first, truly personal glimpse into the mind of Jason and what motivates him,” Wolfer told CBR News.
“In the ‘Jason X’ movie, the nanotech scanner that was responsible for Jason’s rebirth and retooling was still intact, floating in space aboard the jettisoned section of the Grendel spacecraft. What if that body-repairing medical unit was still functioning and what if there were bits and pieces of Jason’s original body still splattered around that room, chunks of rotting flesh that were not incorporated into his being when he was rebuilt? A deep-space salvage team looking to capitalize on whatever valuables are on board this piece of space junk dock with the ship, but their intervention is responsible for jump-starting a cycle of horror that will culminate in the revitalization of Jason’s reign of terror, multiplied by two.
“Simultaneously, “Uber-Jason” has made his way back into space after the events of the ‘Jason X Special’ and has embarked on the gory slaughter of the passengers of the luxury cruiser ‘Fun Club.’ His bloody rampage is curtailed, however, by the arrival of Jason, as the two halves of one whole being are drawn to each other by a very specific drive that I cannot reveal here, but trust me, it’s something that could be the only possible motivator for this meeting.”
“Friday the 13th” and “Jason X” continuity fans will enjoy some familiar settings and references in “Jason vs. Jason X,” but Wolfer said they’re not just re-treading old ground with this series. “Sharp-eyed readers will learn a startling fact that at last provides a glimmer of insight into Jason’s psyche,” Wolfer explained. “Jason and Jason X are not two different characters: they are both Jason Voorhees and that, in itself, is what makes this story work so well. While the body count is high enough to please the gorehounds, the ending is truly shocking and, I hope, surprisingly touching. Only one Jason will walk away from this epic, bloody struggle in a way that I don’t think anyone will expect.”
Outside of Jason & “Uber-Jason,” Wolfer says he’s littered his story with a whole host of characters, some of which he admits are there to fill the “kill quota.” “Our main protagonist is Melda, the female pilot of the salvage ship Pompeii,” said Wolfer. “Unlike other tales in which the main characters are at least familiar with Jason and his legend, Melda and her crew have no idea what they’re up against, which makes them even more vulnerable.
“As the action moves from the confines of the remnants of the Grendel to the futuristic luxury of the cruiser Fun Club, Melda will find herself in a battle for survival as Jason and his future self threaten to destroy all those around them. ‘Jason vs. Jason X’ is a stark deviation from the classic slasher plot in which an assortment of victims are killed one by one. In this story, the characters are not targets and any of their deaths are classified as collateral damage, as they are trapped between two undying forces of evil, hell-bent for each other’s destruction.”
Wolfer explained that fitting this all into the Jason mythos was a tricky proposition considering he had to contend with two separate time lines separated by some 400 years. “If we look at the ‘Jason X’ part of the tale, this story takes place after the events of Avatar’s ‘Jason X Special,’ written by Brian Pulido, which picks up where the ‘Jason X’ film ended. Since this mini-series is set in the year 2455, I guess it would be more of a ‘Jason X’ tale. On the other hand, the involvement of the 21st Century Jason and the entire motivation for this unprecedented struggle give us insight into the ‘classic’ ‘Friday’ scenario, so fans of both versions of Jason will be affected by the story’s outcome. And whatever that outcome may be, readers can be assured that there is no ‘butterfly effect,’ wherein altering the past will affect the future, or vice versa. This is solid, horrific sci-fi and not some fanciful, convoluted time-travel story.”
The story is tied closely to the “Jason X” film and follows the “Jason X Special,” which helped set-up the probability of a meeting between the two Jasons’. “We’ll be going back to what’s left of the space catamaran Grendel’ and seeing the same spacecraft and interior designs from the movie, as well as the Jasons’ battle to the death on the surface of Earth 2, so the feel of the series will be quite reminiscent of the ‘Jason X’ film.”
The idea for this series came to Wolfer when he heard that Avatar held the rights to “Jason X.” “The idea began with a single-line e-mail to Avatar’s Editor In Chief William Christensen; a joke, really. ‘Remember you heard it here first: Jason vs. Jason X.’ The more William thought about it, however, the more he realized that this was actually a pretty cool concept, truly an ‘event’ comic. And, in truth, I was actually working out a storyline in my head in the event that someone said, ‘Run with it.’
“Avatar pitched the concept to New Line who loved the idea. Most of the ‘Friday the 13th’ tales we’ve seen so far have been stories of survival and the horrors faced by the doomed cast of human characters, but we haven’t seen a story completely centralized on Jason himself. While there are plenty of innocent bystanders unlucky enough to be in the path of Jason and Uber-Jason’s battle royale, ‘Jason vs. Jason X’ is driven by emotion and Jason’s desperate struggle to reclaim the only thing that has ever held meaning in his long and tortured life.”
Normally when Wolfer tackles a project that he’s both writing and drawing he’ll do a rough plot overview, which he breaks down into page descriptions and next begins work on the art, letting the visual presentation drive the creative process. Once he’s finished inking the pages, he’d sit down and type out the actual script, referencing notes he made during the drawing process. With this project, though, Avatar had to receive script approval from license holder New Line Films first, so he wrote a full script, which included all the dialogue and scene descriptions so New Line could properly visualize what he had in mind. Once Wolfer got his approval, he sat down at the drawing table to bring “Jason vs. Jason X” to life.
For Wolfer, getting the chance to play in Jason’s playground, as it were, culminates a life-long fascination with the character and franchise. “I’ve been a fan of the ‘Friday the 13th’ films since I viewed the first movie in the theater back in 1980,” said Wolfer. “There was something different about it; I don’t know if it was the gore or the creepy atmosphere created by the filmmakers, but I think that the theme of teen-aged sexuality and the punishment for such behavior is what struck a chord with the audience. It seemed that it could happen to any of us.
“The creation of the adult Jason character in Part 2 was genius to me. There were so many unknowns about him, as there still are, and I think that the mystery surrounding Jason is what makes him so appealing to fans of homicidal maniacs. There are no family, friends or reliable witnesses that can truly verify Jason’s existence, nor are there credible historians of his massacres, so we have no characters in the films that can tell us conclusively what the truth is. If you ask ‘Friday the 13th’ fans themselves to give you their interpretation of the character, you’ll find almost as many variations as there are ‘Friday the 13th’ sequels. The unanswered questions we have about Jason are one of the reasons that fan interest is at an all-time high, even 25 years after the premiere of the first film. In Jason’s world, he is an urban myth with some ties to fact, but he’s mostly shrouded by the veil of hearsay. We, in the real world, propagate that mystery ourselves… And that makes Jason even scarier.”