The 90’s is commonly seen as a particularly sexist period for comic books. The busts got bigger, waists smaller, anatomy utterly incomprehensible and there was a distinct lack of new female flesh while exposing a bit too much of the characters that already existed. However, with the emergence of third wave feminism, Jimmy Palmiotti saw a need for a new badass lady role model and created Painkiller Jane, an ex-cop who develops superior healing abilities and is subsequently practically indestructible.
The character was inspired by a few of the writers feisty female friends, as well as Jane’s “attitude, confidence and sense of humour” being that of Palmiotti’s wife, fellow comic book artist, Amanda Conner.
Painkiller Jane has not only spawned many one off comic book series’ but has had her own movie (I wouldn’t bother watching it though, it’s a bit pants) and a Sci-Fi channel exclusive series back in 2006.
Luckily for us, Jane is back, and with only two issues having been released so far, this is the perfect time to pick up the series.
Issue #1 of the new Icon series, an offset of Marvel, introduces us to Jane. And if you weren’t already a fan, provides some much needed backstory, as well as throwing us straight into the action of story arc “The Price of Freedom”.
The story is interesting, it brings up a lot of feminist issues. The ‘victim’ within the story is a Saudi Arabian princess, so the plot touches on the sexism within her country and her fathers’ double standards when it comes to his ‘new’ and ‘traditional’ values.
Sexuality, bi-sexuality and perverseness are subjects also approached within the first 2 issues.
These comics aren’t afraid to approach difficult subjects and aren’t for the faint hearted. Sex, violence and gore are all standard for Painkiller Jane, so if you love a bit of gratuitous violence, and bad language… Jane is definitely the girl for you!