Jenny Sparks

From Academic Kids

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Jenny Sparks, also known as "The Spirit of the 20th century", is a fictional character in the Wildstorm comic book universe created by Warren Ellis during his 1997 revamp of the dwindling Stormwatch series. Her first appearance was in issue #37 (Ellis's starting issue) where she was appointed the leader of Stormwatch Black (Black Ops division), with Shen Li-Min and Jack Hawksmoor, with whom she would later create The Authority.

Overview

After the 12th issue of Authority Warren Ellis left the title and Mark Millar took over. He did some extra fleshing-out of Jenny's history in the Jenny Sparks: Secret History of the Authority limited series, focused on the origin stories of the members of the Authority. Most of Millar's additions are furthering Ellis's backstory and intermeshing Jenny Sparks with important historical figures of the 20th century, including Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, Adolf Hitler, Jacques Cousteau, John Lennon and many others. He also added a number of fictional characters into the mix.

Jenny is one of the characters Ellis created to protect humanity, present a facet of the coming age and do something specific for it in a given century. Since the thesis given by The Doctor goes that humanity as a whole thinks that a century begins with the centennial year, so the mass unconscious of humanity creates these heroes in the beginning moments of the centennial year. See also: Century Babies.

Her being "The Spirit of the 20th century" is not only a title. Jenny was the one most tied with the century itself, always being in the centre of things, while her state of mind mirrored the spirit of the particular age. This is best shown in Stormwatch #44, where Ellis takes a ride through the 20th century, telling Jenny's story. This is accentuated perfectly by the artwork of Tom Raney, the inks of Randy Elliot and the changing palette of Laura DePuy and Wildstorm FX. The style, the layout and the colors change with each era of Jenny's life mirroring the black and white of film noir, the three colors and simple lines of the Golden Age or the dark, oppressive backgrounds and gritty characters of the eighties.

Jenny Sparks is a pretty, yet foulmouthed, chainsmoking blonde, and her long life has made her cynical and aggressive towards everyone. She saw that "heroes" only ever went after the effects and never the causes of the problems in the world. Henry Bendix's promise that his Stormwatch will not act like that brought her into the team. After a long time this finally gave her purpose and allowed her to embrace her vision of a better world. This same vision also inspired her to create the Authority.

(For Stormwatch, Stormwatch v2 & The Authority)

Biography

Jennifer Sparks was born in England on January 1, 1900 (The date is a running theme in Ellis's Wildstorm titles, see above). Her family possessed quite a fortune, and she was sent to an all-girls school in Vienna. Her family had died on the Titanic in 1912, and her father's arch-nemesis took over their fortune. Left penniless, young Jenny was invited by her godfather, Albert Einstein, to Zurich, where he offered to finish her education. Before leaving she recommended that a young painter, whose art was quite absymal, leave it behind and take a career in politics as he had a certain charisma and talent for speeches.

Between 1913 and 1919 her powers started to manifest. Jenny Sparks had absolute control of electricity, including travel through power lines, shooting bolts of lightning and shaping electricitiy. With age her control and power increased. By 1919 Jenny had also stopped aging.

Her adventures from 1919 to the early thirties were marked by the mindset of the era - Scientific Romance. In this period the Wildstorm universe had the first contact with Sliding Albion, an alternate Earth where humanity encountered aliens in the Renaissance, and where the blueskinned aliens and humans intermixed through the ages. In 1919 she married prince Lorenzo of Albion to help him to take power against his father's tyrannical reign. Unfortunately Lorenzo was using the British of Jenny's reality to help him take over from his father... who he considered too soft. She continued with traveling the multiple realities, visiting alien worlds, entering fast relationships with supermen and people of the era. During this time she earned the rank of Colonel in British Army Intelligence.

In the early thirties she went to America and spent most of that time as a adventurer and pulp hero. During this period she was the girlfriend of a certain Dr. Jones. In 1939 she met Elijah Snow and after a one-night-stand they both agreed that it never happened.

During World War II she was working as an allied operative against the Nazi superbeings and preventing the Nazis from obtaining valuable artifacts and ancient weapons. In 1943 she was rescuing a Tibetan egg from the Nazis. The egg was prophesied to open and bring forth a being that will usher a new age. Inside it was a small, curled up woman. (This was Shen Li-Min and this aspect was not explored any more, however there are clear connotations that the Authority will manage to make the world a better place and that may be what the myth is about). She was captured and the only thing that prevented her from being sent to a camp, where she would be dissected for creating German supermen, was her childhood friend, who remembered her and upon accidentally noticing her being dragged away ordered her to be released and sent to England with the egg.

Jenny returned to America after the war. The world no longer believed in heroes. She didn't either and her darkening turned her into a noiresque private eye who dealt her own justice. With the end of the forties she decided to head home.

In the fifties she got involved with the British Space Group - The biggest clandestine stunt ever pulled on the British public, an organisation involved with alien and crossdimensional interaction and exploration. Even their banquets were held under maximum security. During one of those, in 1953, the Sliding Albion reality entered its first World War, and bacterium weapons were unleashed on their London. In a final act of contempt and spite, Sliding Albion vented the bacterial fallout over Britain. However, this agent changed while traversing The Bleed and caused the first surge of superhuman powers in Britain. Jenny didn't notice, she only felt the world losing a great opportunity to become a better place. After a while she tried to write a book about her life... but that got shot.

The Sixties were a new age of exploration and freedom. Not only that but, the first British heroes started to band together, and quite easily took Jenny as their leader for her experience and spirit. For the first time Jenny actually felt she belonged somewhere, and with her companions was set on making the world a better place. However, in the late sixties, during a huge open air festival, for which the heroes provided security, a tragedy came. One of the heroes, to prove his masculinity and power, took the challenge of a group of bikers and took a gigantic amount of drugs. After this the hero freaked out and started killing people all around him. Jenny had no choice. With tears in her eyes she used the stage generators to fry him on the spot, leaving only charred remains, before a huge crowd and before the eyes of giddy TV cameras. The heroes disbanded quickly after that, and Jenny retreated into self-pity, sorrow and alcohol.

On December 31st, 1999, Jenny Sparks, believing that she would die at midnight, sacrificed herself to electrocute the brain of an enormous alien creature which was planning to wipe the Earth clean of all life.

At the moment of her death, a new entity was born, Jenny Quantum. Though not, in fact, a reincarnation of Jenny Sparks, she is actually her successor. Just as Jenny Sparks was the spirit of the 20th Century, Jenny Quantum is the spirit of the 21st century.

A biography of Jenny Sparks was released as Jenny Sparks : The Secret History of the Authority (ISBN 1563897695).

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