1. Painkiller Jane #1 By Jimmy Palmiotti, Juan Santacruz And Sam Lotfi (Icon)
It's a few years since we've seen any Painkiller Jane comics and even longer since we've seen Painkiller Jane comics written by her co-creator Jimmy Palmiotti but this week saw the release of Painkiller Jane #1 reuniting the character with her co-creator in a very welcome return! For those unfamiliar with Jane, she was an undercover cop trying to bring down a drug kingpin, but when her cover was blown, she was shot up with a lethal cocktail of drugs that everyone thought would kill her. Except it didn't. She survived and somehow the drugs gave her the ability to heal from anything with remarkable speed - kind of like Wolverine's healing factor - and is her superpower. Other than that, she's your average bounty-hunter-esque bisexual gal who's great with guns and looks great in tight jeans! In the first part of the story arc, The Price of Freedom, Jane's sent to the airport to keep an eye on a Saudi princess on her way to New York - but things go wrong when some fake police attempt to kill her as she exits the runway in a limo and then an unmanned drone fires missiles at her as she and Jane try to escape. Jane has to save the princess' life and avoid an international incident, while also dodge cops and bad guys and find out who's behind the attacks - game on! This comic has some amazing action but it's also got some terrific dialogue. The comic opens with some great gal-chat between Jane and a barkeep about her boyfriend before Jane gets into an argument with an old cabbie on his lunch break. And while Icon is a Marvel imprint, this definitely isn't a Marvel book as Jane gets sassed by a snotty kid and responds with "go play in traffic, you little sh*t". Palmiotti manages to make every character distinctive in their own way so we get strong impressions of the Saudi princess, her concerned bodyguard - pretty much every character in the comic! Jane herself is delightful, a happy-go-lucky woman with a great attitude, brains, wit, and inner and outer strength, and when it comes to fighting, she more than holds her own. She's an amazing female character as only Palmiotti can write. Which isn't to say we don't get the gratuitous Palmiotti sexuality - Jane's top gets cut up in an explosion and we see her nipple poking out in several panels, and when she pulls out the princess from the sunroof of the limo, the princess (no slouch in the looks department either) dives face first into Jane's cleavage for a panel. Plus there's the skin tight clothing, etc. So we get strong female characters with an asterisk, in that the boys get something to perve out on at the same time. Also included besides the 20-page comic is an afterword from Palmiotti, a 10-page origin comic for readers new to the character, plus a 3 page written history of the character - how she was created, how she evolved, etc. - bringing us up-to-speed to this comic. So there's a lot of value to be had with this issue. I know strong female characters are common these days but they're not easy to get right - just look at Alan Martin's Tank Girl or Garth Ennis' Jennifer Blood, both lacklustre creations. And if you're a regular Icon Comics reader and think, hey don't they already have a gun-toting red-head, Brian Michael Bendis' Scarlet? then you're right but the characters are totally different. Scarlet is much more politically charged and slightly more realistic; Painkiller Jane is straight up fantasy fare - not as out there as Marvel's superhero stuff but still kinda cartoonish, and a lot more funny than Scarlet (though both titles are awesome!). Jane could be a lesser character in other hands but she's terrific in this book because of the great creative team that's written/portrayed her. Painkiller Jane is terrifically fun, engaging and exciting read, really well drawn by both Juan Santacruz and Sam Lotfi, and has a killer storyline. Well worth a look, guys, this one is a hit all the way. * Those are my comic picks of the week. Some weeks there are a larger number of awesome comics, some weeks not, that's why the number fluctuates week in, week out, in the column's header - but rather that than force in some poorer quality titles to make up the numbers, right? As always, let me know what you thought and recommend me any great comics that I've missed. See you guys next week!