More than a decade ago, Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada introduced the world to a character called Painkiller Jane in a comic of the same name. Today, Palmiotti, along with the SciFi Channel, Kickstart and Starz, has brought Jane Vasco to the small screen. The first episode aired this past Friday, and Palmiotti sat down with CBR News to chat about all things Jane.
Kristanna Loken (of "Terminator 3" fame) is portraying the title character in Sci-Fi's "Painkiller Jane," but this is not the character's first jaunt on the small screen. Emmanuelle Vaugier played the titular role in a Sci-Fi Channel original movie in 2005. "The TV movie on Sci-Fi did well in the ratings and the channel decided after a bit of time they wanted to push forward and give it a show as an ongoing series, so we got 22 one hour episodes ordered right out of the gate," Palmiotti said.
Palmiotti set the stage for those viewers who were unfamiliar with the comic. "[The comic] is about a girl that can't die, fighting urban crime in a non-stop action kind of way," the writer explained. In the new television series, Jane is "a character that cannot die who joins a group of agents that track down people called Neuros that have powers that they use for bad stuff. See? Nice and simple."
The setup for the series is strongly informed by that of the 2005 TV movie. "They decided that to do this for TV, they would again do their version of the character," Palmiotti explained. "It works in parts and not in others, but a TV show gets fine tuned as it goes along. Overall I am happy with it." Palmiotti did promise that Jane's "powers and attitude" were two things that would remain constant.
Another thing the comic series and the TV series have in common is Palmiotti himself, who is a member of the writing staff on "Painkiller Jane." Palmiotti, whose involvement with the Vaugier version was limited at best, said he's had a much better experience with the ongoing series, thanks in no small part to Sci-Fi, Kickstart and Starz. "These people have treated me fantastic and I would work with them again in a heartbeat," Palmiotti said. "They get what a creator wants and needs, and keep to their word and promises. That means a lot to a guy like me." Palmiotti only penned one episode for the show's first season, but the scribe said fans will see his episode coming a mile away. The episode, called "The League of Five," "deals with people who collect comics and believe in their message," Palmiotti said.
Palmiotti took a moment to compare the comics Jane to the small-screen Jane. "The comic is the character in its purest form," Palmiotti began. "Because I am in control of the comic, not 200 people putting their hands all over it. The thing you can do better on TV is kinetic visuals and music and so on. Things that go from 2-D to 3-D and so on. Dream scenario is I would like to do both and compare it myself."
When it came to the casting process, Palmiotti couldn't have found a star more suited for the roll of Jane. "I personally think the world of [Loken], personable, kind and smart as a whip," Palmiotti raved. "She is amazing and a fun person to be around. She was sold on the concept not so much by the show idea but because she dug the comic so much, and that makes her aces in my book."
Some members of the show's supporting cast will be familiar to readers of the comic, but others are brand new additions. Dr. Seth, and Jane's best friend and Academy partner, Maureen, will be jumping from the comics page to the small screen. "Then there are the new characters," Palmiotti said. "Andre McBride as the Army back-grounded team leader, Conner, the grunt and muscle of the group, and Riley, their tech guy. The usual TV group stuff with Jane as the new member of the group. We follow the show through her eyes."
To coincide with the premiere of the TV series, Dynamite Entertaiment is publishing a new "Painkiller Jane" comic series, with words by Palmiotti and art by Lee Moder. "The comic is my life and I couldn't be more excited about this new book," Palmiotti said. "Lee is brilliant and one of the best storytellers out there and just as a tease, we see a side of Jane the fans have never seen before. And I am not talking about her backside: you can see that in this month's 'Painkiller Jane' for 25 cents."
Would-be viewers who missed the first episode need not fret, because "Painkiller Jane" is more an episodic drama than a serialized ongoing narrative. "Episodic all the way," Palmiotti said. "It's the only way to go I think." That said, the Pilot is being re-aired several times in the coming week on the Sci-Fi Channel, and the second episode, "Toy Soliders," debuts on Friday, April 20 th at 10:00 p.m.
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