Penny Dreadful writer on why THAT twist had to happen
Comic writer Chris King discusses the big new twists
SPOILER ALERT! Do not read this article if you haven’t read the latest issue of the Penny Dreadful comic yet, or the Mummy will set his minions after you.
Penny Dreadful may have been resurrected as a comic book, but that doesn’t mean writer (and executive producer on the Showtime series) Chris King was going to start pulling any punches. In fact, the latest issue of the Titan Comics series contains more than a few game-changing (and story-propelling) twists.
The fourth issue, available now, sees Belial (a.k.a. The Mummy) successfully summon Lucifer. Only, the form that Satan chooses to take is none other than the body of one Vanessa Ives — who just happens to resemble Amunet, Belial’s past love. Making matters worse: the procedure required a sacrifice, and unfortunately for our heroes, Sir Malcolm was the one to pay it. Coping with all this is Ethan, who is now officially reunited with his former love Lily (who he knew as Brona), only neither of them has time to discuss this latest twist as they’re working to escape Lucifer’s minions.
Elsewhere in the comic, we learn Kaetenay has found fellow werewolves and is working to actively recruit them in his battle against evil, while Dr. Jekyll and Victor Frankenstein are once again working together. But even though the now-Lord warns his resurrection-obsessed friend against joining Ethan, Catriona, and the gang’s fight against Belial, Frankenstein once again finds himself at his old friends’ side.
With so many developments taking place in the span of a few pages, EW caught up with King to discuss the big twists of this latest issue.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Lucifer is back and he’s in Vanessa’s body. When did you realize that’s how you were going to bring back her likeness?
CHRIS KING: John Logan wrote an incredible character in Vanessa. That was his muse, and one of his most favorite characters that he loved to write. So I didn’t want to bring her back as Vanessa. I felt like her story ended at the end of season 3, when John stopped writing the show. So I never wanted to bring her back as herself. But I loved the character and I love who she is as a person. I thought, “What a cool way to bring the Devil back in human form.” Because what does the Devil look like? He can move and be in other forms. So if I’m going to use another body, why not the body of someone they were pursuing so long? So the Devil could take her form and be her. The question also is, “Is there any part of Vanessa that’s still in there?”
Speaking of bringing Vanessa back, you also killed Sir Malcolm! How did that decision come about?
It was honestly such a difficult decision to make. I struggled with it. I had so many versions where he survived. But I just wanted to make it clear that nobody is safe. This is a series where there’s real danger. These people’s lives are at stake. It’s heightened. They’re dealing with the ultimate evil. So I wanted to make sure it was clear that everyone’s lives are at stake and that at any moment they could be gone. We don’t know how he can come back, but no one ever really dies on this show, or in the series. So there are other options for him. But, I hope I came up with a really cool way of at least getting an essence of Malcolm somehow. I just wanted to make sure it was very clear that everyone’s lives are at risk and that it’s a big danger.
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At least he had a nice bonding moment with Ethan.
I loved Malcolm, but to be honest his story needed to come to an end. What was great is the fact that Malcolm lost his real daughter and his real son in the series. But he was able to at least find a connection between another daughter and son, which was Vanessa and Ethan. So, ultimately there was retribution for him because he was able to try to help and save those in a way that ultimately he wasn’t able to with his own children.
Ethan and Lily are finally reunited! How are they processing this? With so much going on, will they even have a chance to?
It’s a tough situation. I’m currently in issue 6, at the moment, of trying to find those moments where they do get to be like, “Wait a second. You’re alive. What happened?” But the story is moving so fast that there are only moments where they get the chance to unfold, and for Ethan to discover the truth. And then, Lily’s on her own mission too. So it’s a tough balance to play as a writer… My dream was to always bring them back together and see what that dynamic would be like now that Lily has gone through this other arc in her life and Ethan basically was in love with Vanessa, and he lost her. So how does that affect their relationship going forward? Plus one of the fun things was bringing Dr. Frankenstein back in to see what will happen if Frankenstein and Ethan confront one another, and Ethan discovers the truth about what Frankenstein actually did. That was always the goal, to bring Frankenstein’s story’s back in. He’s such a great character.
In this issue, we see he’s back to being friends with Dr. Jekyll again. What led to that?
Frankenstein and Jekyll had such a close relationship, and Frankenstein doesn’t have a lot of means. He’s not a wealthy man. Even though he came from the wealth of his family, he doesn’t have it. So, he needs financial support, and he needs a patron to help him with his tests and studies and all of that. Of course, we ended season 3 with Dr. Jekyll inheriting all his father’s money and then becoming Lord Hyde. So I wanted to give the audience that again. I want to explore what their relationship has become since we last saw them together. Ultimately, they rely on each other to both do their experiments and to try to both play God in a certain way, to become the true geniuses that they believe they are.
There’s a part of the Penny Dreadful fandom that was hoping for this, but is there possibly a romantic relationship between Jekyll and Frankenstein?
You know, we always played with that a little bit, the idea that they had this potential homosexual relationship. What’s going to be fun in these new issues that I’m writing is that we’re going to continue with the Jekyll and Hyde of it all. What is he when he’s Dr. Jekyll, and what is he when he’s Mr. Hyde? It’s not going to be your typical monster. Instead, it’s going to be monstrous in a different way. What does it mean when someone is sexually powerful or really smart and charismatic and uses that to his advantage to manipulate people? So that is going to be more of what we’re going to explore with the character as the issues go on. Part of that would be the fact that he’s a very sexual creature that everyone is going to be in love with; straight or gay, it doesn’t matter. You’re going to want to be around him.
Considering Jekyll tells him not to go back and help the group, how will Frankenstein choosing to help the group impact their relationship?
Well it’s definitely going to upset Jekyll very much. What we’re leaning into is the relationship between Catriona and Frankenstein, because although they met briefly in the series, they’re going to sort of ally together. Catriona’s one of our favorite characters. She’s so smart and tough, and such a badass. She’s slowly going to uncover the truth of what they’re doing and what they’re up to. Also we’re going to learn a lot more about where her fascination with death has come from. It was a story beat that we were going to explore in the scripted series that I’m going to play into in the comic issues. So it’s going to be a bit of a surprise, but it’s going to make clear why she is so ingrained in the study of death, and where that sort of comes from.
Will we get to see Lily and Catriona bond in the next couple of issues?
I’m obsessed with strong female characters as they existed in the show, and as I hope they exist in the comic. You’re going to see Ethan take on the traditional damsel role in a way, where we’re going to see Lily and Catriona really step up and be our heroes. Ethan’s always been the one that’s the hero. But what happens when he’s the one that’s desired by the villain? So, these great women have to protect him. We’re going to flip some roles around a little bit and have fun with that.
Now that Kaetenay has found more werewolves, what else is in store for him?
We’re slowly building to a potential big battle between Good and Evil. Between the Devil and his people versus our storybook heroes and I love the idea that there are these other groups of people all over the world that have lycanthropy [and] have control over being werewolves because there has got to be more than just those two. Kaetenay has that spiritual connection to these others, so he seeks them out for help because he feels like they’re facing a much worse battle than they’ve ever faced before, and he’s going to need an army to fight.
Penny Dreadful issue 4 is currently in stores. You can see exclusive pages above.