Overview

Painkiller Jane #1

Review

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Painkiller Jane #1

Credits

  • Words: Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti
  • Art: Lee Moder
  • Inks: Lee Moder
  • Colors: Pilvi Kuusela
  • Story Title: The Dead of Winter
  • Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Mar 15, 2006

Painkiller Jane wants to put New York’s worst scum out of the city’s misery. That scum wants to put Jane out of their misery. When the two clash, bullets fly.

The brainchild of Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti, Painkiller Jane has not seen print in quite some time. This first issue from Dynamite Entertainment is meant to both continue the character’s story and, at the same time, be a good jumping on point for new readers. The question is if it can achieve both of those missions.

The reader meets Jane waking up after her last mission. Although a healing factor has already removed the physical evidence of her wounds, her mental scarring goes much deeper. Despite it all, though, when her old friend, Detective Fernandez, calls with a job and an address Jane is ready to go. What Jane finds at the rundown house is enough to turn even her hardened stomach. What she finds out in the aftermath of the job is enough to put her back up against the wall. Jane and anyone she has contact with have just been targeted for death. Too bad for them, Jane is good with death.

The character of Jane is an interesting one for comic books. While there is no shortage of female superheroes, women warriors, or magic wielders, there are very few female characters in the hard-edged vigilante mold. Jane is more than willing to kill those she considers undeserving of breathing even the polluted air of New York. Jimmy Palmiotti handles the scripting duty and he does a good job of focusing on Jane as a person rather than a type. The dialogue is loaded with black and blood-red humor but there are a few moments where lines bog down and become trite. The story itself, co-plotted by Joe Quesada and Palmiotti, does a pretty good job at setting up a mystery to be solved but there are a few too many dangling clues that remove some of the sense of danger that swirls around Jane.

Lee Moder’s pencil work is actually very well suited to the story. His angular style captures Jane’s toughness but also reveals brittleness. He does a good job at conveying action but, unfortunately, his work in the issue’s biggest action sequence is robbed by the color. For most of the issue Pilvi Kuusela does a good job at creating a noir atmosphere of lingering shadows with his colors. When it comes to the action sequence, however, his coloring slips from noir into so dark you cannot tell what is happening. This is something that could be easily corrected, though, and I hope that subsequent issues will find more balance.

Coming in to this title cold I found that Quesada and Palmiotti have managed to make the character of Painkiller accessible to new readers. Enough basic facts and information are given to avoid confusion while still leaving room for more of the character’s background to be explored. Jane is a tough woman whose entire life is balanced on a trip wire. One false move and the whole thing will explode. Want to know what happens next? Pick up the book.

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