- Plainer Jane #6
- Broken Face Comics
- Created & Written by David Wilburn
- Illustrated by Samir Simao
- Lettering & Logos by Tim West
- Cover & Colors by Ralf Singh
- Back Cover (mixed media) by Donna A Black
- Issue 7 coming soon to Kickstarter!
PLAINER JANE is the darkly comic story of Jane Pearson, a seemingly ordinary teenage girl who becomes a brutally efficient killer for hire. With no training, no special skills, just her own cunning, brutality, and fearlessness, Jane leaves a trail of bodies behind her, ultimately going head-to-head with the feared and secretive criminal gang, The Nexus, in a war that could ultimately cost not only her life but the lives of everyone she loves.
I’ve been entertained by comics for most of my life. I’ve occasionally been disturbed by comics. I have, on the very rare occasion, been disturbed because I’ve been entertained by a given comic. After reading the first six issues of Plainer Jane, I’d like to report that there’s a deep corner of my soul which believes that there should be no way in hell I should have enjoyed this book.
Hold on, lemme back up a bit…
See, I should have led with “this is a beautifully written & wonderfully illustrated comic book series,” before dragging you all into my own personal conundrum. The piece of me believing I should have hated Plainer Jane is probably the same personality quirk that thought I was some kind of savage rooting for Dexter. The rest of me has a huge appreciation for such a left-of-center story, well crafted & put together with love and care.
Apparently, I’m more in touch with my id than may be healthy, but that’s between me and my therapist.
Creator/Writer David Wilburn (some afficionados may know him better as David Straightjacket, escape artist, sword swallower, & professional stuntman) has tapped into his own inner demons to bring Plainer Jane to the page. Before you just poo-poo this book as a teen angst driven retread of the Punisher, I can say with all confidence that this is much deeper than an attempt at re-packaging and re-branding. Where other fictional characters have worked out their darker impulses by targeting criminals, Jane takes a different angle, as a killer looking to earn a living by doing what she’s inclined to do anyway. Over the six issues so far, she’s worked her way up the food chain of hired killers, never pausing to think about who she’s been working for or where her career path would take her. It’s Wilbur’s careful layering of the story that won me over, a slow but steady series of reveals leading a patient reader on until the divergent plot threads collide.
Another winning ingredient comes from the heavily shadowed art by Samir Simao. Done mainly in black & white, with splashes of red as appropriate, Simao carries on where David Wilburn’s narrative leaves off. The characters are dark & brooding where needed, bright & sunny as called for, and in the case of title character Jane, bored & indifferent. Aside from his great character work, Simao doesn’t leave anything to chance, giving a reader no easy out by pulling away from an unsettling scene. We’re supposed to be bothered by what we’re seeing on the page as Jane walks through her day as a killer for hire like it’s the most mundane thing in the world.
I have to give a huge nod of respect to the cover artists for issue 6. Ralf Singh’s work on the front covers for issues 2 and up has set tone and mood for the series, showing snapshots of an average young lady with one or two notable swerves away from the norm, usually in the form of blood spatter. The exception to that theme is the cover of issue 6, where we’re seeing how Jane’s chosen lifestyle may be catching up with her. Mixed media artist Donna A Black has a gift for keeping readers off balance as she adds the final touches to the back cover of each issue, the imagery almost coming across as a coded message for those with the right frame of reference.
Everything on this book, from writing & art to the lettering by Tim West, has the stamp of deliberate consideration. As a small press piece of work, this is easily one of the more professionally produced books I’ve run across. I’d be horrified to find out that anything in Plainer Jane was done by accident, because it would mean that the kind of pacing & plotting pushing this one over the top from good to outstanding was just crazy random happenstance.
Not everyone is going to appreciate the finer points in this series, and that’s fine. I’ll go out on a limb and say that David Wilburn didn’t write it for universal appeal. If you’re looking for a story that challenges a reader to pay attention to the layers of character that make the darker aspects earned, you’re in luck. The seventh, and final, chapter of Plainer Jane is set to hit Kickstarter soon. You can hop over and sign up for notification when the campaign goes live.
Final Score: 12/13