‘Die Hard’ Screenwriter Steven De Souza Talks ‘Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle,’ Previews Issue #1

You’d think beating out Wonder Woman to become the first female character with her own comics series would earn you a spot among the industry’s best-known leading ladies, but Golden Age jungle girl Sheena (“Queen of the Jungle”) has had a rough time of it since her debut in 1942. After decades of poorly received comics, film and TV projects, the vine-swinging, bikini-clad Will Eisner creation finally has a successful miniseries behind her and another on the way — not to mention plans for a live-action film — along with an ambitious new steward in celebrated screenwriter Steven de Souza (“Die Hard,” “Commando”).

While de Souza hopes that Sheena’s new adventures in print will provide a springboard into film, he described comics as her “home turf,” and called the new stories he’s co-authoring for Devil’s Due Publishing alongside Todd Livingston a “Golden Age origin, but a 21st Century reboot.”

(You’ll find more on Steven de Souza’s “Sheena, Queen of the Jungle,” as well as an exclusive preview of the first issue of the upcoming Sheena miniseries, “Dark Rising,” after the jump!)

“She is not an alien, she does not have superpowers and she does not have a robot suit” said de Souza, calling to mind some of the character’s previous, cringe-worthy moments on television and in film — including a 2000 television series starring “The Price is Right” spokesmodel and “Baywatch” cast member Gena Lee Nolin. “She’s like Batman — an incredible highly trained and tuned human machine.”

With the first issue of a new three-issue “Dark Rising” miniseries hitting shelves October 15, de Souza said he plans to use the next volume of “Sheena” stories to explore the contrasting worlds of the wild rainforest and the urban cityscape in which Sheena’s adventures occur. Oh, and he also wants to declare shenanigans on one of the great inconsistencies of stories involving characters with one foot in the wild and one on cement.

“When people have these characters who understand that they have roots in civilization and in the jungle, they’re not going to go back and live in a treehouse,” said de Souza. “They’re going to want indoor plumbing.”

De Souza told MTV News that the new miniseries picks up where the recent standalone story “Trail to Mapingari” left off, tackling Sheena’s “integration into the society she’s been away from since she was an infant.” Along with the warm reception the first volume of “Sheena” has received thus far — the New York Times even name-checked the character in their Spring 2008 Fashion Guide — the writer admits being pleasantly surprised by the level of interest the series has received from notable female artists, including Rebekah Isaacs, who will provide interior art for the series on several issues.

“It’s actually been very exciting to us to see all of the great women who’ve been so eager to work on the book,” said de Souza. “People like Fiona Staples and Nicola Scott, and now Rebekah Isaacs is our regular artist. These people could be working on so many other books and now they’re taking numbers to come join us, because it’s such a seminal character.”

“Me? I’m excited to be doing ’Sheena’ because, along with my work on ’Tales From the Crypt’ for HBO, I’ve worked on the two projects that drove Dr. Fredric Wertham — the anti-comics crusader — crazy,” laughed the writer.

Devil’s Due Publishing has provided the following 7-page preview of “Sheena, Queen of the Jungle: Dark Rising” #1, featuring a story by Steven de Souza and Todd Livingston, with art by Lee Ferguson.

So what do you think about Sheena’s return to the world of comics, readers? Interested to see what de Souza and Co. have planned for the “Queen of the Jungle”?

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