PAINKILLER JANE: THE 22 BRIDES

Icon/Marvel Comics

Paper Films

2014

 

 

DISCLAIMER: If you’re not in the mood for action cranked up to “eleven,” then this ain’t the book for you. The adventures of Jane Vasko are not for the faint of heart.

“Painkiller” Jane, originally created by Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada in 1995, is an ex-cop who has gained a self-healing ability that makes her impervious to just about any injury. The trick is, she still feels the injury. Now off the force, she helps her longtime girlfriend Detective Maureen Fernandez whenever a case requires Jane’s particular brand of extreme violence to solve.

THE 22 BRIDES opens with Jane being caught in a movie theatre explosion. Waking up in the lush penthouse digs of the group known as the “22 Brides” (which, thankfully have their origin recapped in the beginning of the book) Jane, Maureen, and the Brides make a quick plan of attack.

What starts out as a “track down the baddie before more people get hurt” adventure quickly turns into an emotional roller coaster when the identity, and more importantly, the motivation, of the bomber is revealed.

Remember kids: the real super-villains don’t wear masks or capes.

Jimmy Palmiotti continues to deliver strong characters in original adventures. 22 BRIDES is filled with topless ladies, extreme violence, and salty language, but Palmiotti is so skilled at his craft, not once does it come off as pandering. And when the story focuses on the relationship between Jane and Maureen, and the friendship between Jane and the Bride Lu-Lu, well, the story is downright tear-inducing.

The main story features art by Juan Santacruz. While not being familiar with his work, his rugged line work works perfectly for the hyper-kinetic storytelling that Jane commands. The backup story, MONSTERS, features art by Steve Mannion. While Mannion’s style is the polar opposite of Santacruz’s, it really grew on me. His pencil work is reminiscent of Moritat mixed with Darwyn Cooke. Mannion delivers Palmiotti’s tale of Jane vs. a criminal puppet master in a soft, almost cartoon style that really works well for the story. He shows us the emotional ups and downs that make up the private life of Jane and Maureen. These character beats are really the shining stars of the over-the-top adventures of PAINKILLER JANE.

 

Dan Malmon