Friday, 14 February 2014

Painkiller Jane: The Price of Freedom Review (Jimmy Palmiotti, Juan Santacruz)

Painkiller Jane - whose superpower is a healing factor not unlike Wolverine’s - helps out a Saudi Arabian princess escape assassins and protect her from them. That’s the comic in a nutshell! 

I realised reading this that Jimmy Palmiotti doesn’t write complex comics. I’ve read a few of his other comics before but this one really underlined it for me. It’s not a bad thing but the non-stop action and gratuitous boob and butt shots (Jane is stacked, of course!) make this feel like any number of brainless Hollywood action movies. 

Jane and the princess run from explosions here, then they run from assassins there, then they separate and Jane has to rescue the princess from some beefy bad guy, there’s a shootout and it’s done. It’s written in a very formulaic fashion. 

It’s enjoyable for what it is which is just one action set piece after another, and at first it’s inventive enough. The scene at the airport where Jane’s got to save the princess, avoid the cops and a flying drone is really cool, but the action becomes more rote afterwards. Fisticuffs, guns, car chase - I get it, it’s “exciting”, I guess, but I’m reading it and feeling completely uninvolved in what’s happening on the page. 

It doesn’t help that Jane’s indestructible and that she can get shot and smashed into walls and thrown off buildings, and so on, and be absolutely fine a few panels later with a couple bandages to show she’s been hurt. Because there are no real stakes, it’s not very tense to see things like knives and bullets being waved at her - she can get hit by all of them and she’ll live. 

The Amanda Conner covers are stunning and Juan Santacruz’s artwork is absolutely fantastic - the art team were far and away the best part of the book. But Palmiotti’s writing? It’s competent and definitely not terrible, but it’s also very pedestrian and uninspired. Painkiller Jane starts well but loses steam almost instantly after the first issue to become an average forgettable action story with your usual boringly invincible protagonist. If straightforward violent action with hot chicks thrown in is all you’re looking for, Painkiller Jane delivers completely.

Painkiller Jane: The Price of Freedom

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