Issue six of Plainer Jane marks the beginning of the end of the series, as this penultimate instalment starts to wrap up the story, and brings our protagonist into danger as the final pieces move into place. But when all is said and done, will our heroine manage to make it out alive, or will she herself meet a brutal and bloody end?
The previous two issues gave us a bigger view of the world that the titular Jane, a teen contract killer, lives in. We got to see the impact that her murders were having upon the world of organised crime, and discovered who was paying her to take out these gangsters and killers, and why. This continues on here, as we watch the bosses of the gangs come together to discuss what to do next as their fragile alliance begins to fall apart around them.
It’s interesting to see these aspects of the story, and it’s a bold choice for writer and series creator David Wilburn to take focus away from the protagonist for as long as they have. But by now it feels like the story has grown beyond a simple tale of a young woman looking to make a name for herself as an assassin. That kind of story couldn’t focus solely on one person and be entertaining for long. You have to see the ripples from her decision to perform these actions; and that’s what we get this issue.
We get to see the effect that her actions have on the criminals, but also check in again with the police. As readers of the series know, Tyler is more than just a simple police officer, and the series has become as much his story as Jane’s. The time spent with him here is important, and gives us an insight into how he’s dealing with things after the tragic events of the previous issue. Unfortunately, his story is intrinsically linked with Jane’s, and when the bad guys decide to get information from him it means that it’s going to put Jane in danger too.
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And whilst by the end of the issue Jane finds herself in a situation that’s more dangerous than any she’s faced before she does get a chance to get out earlier in the issue. Her best friend comes to her, wanting to talk to her, wanting to know what’s been going on with her, and giving her the chance to talk about things. It’s kind of tragic that Jane has this opportunity here, right before the end of everything, and doesn’t take that shot. She could open up, probably be talked out of going on with what she’s doing, and avoid whatever awful things are coming next. But as we’ve seen over the course of the previous issues, Jane has kind of lost her way, has given up on most of her old life, and is now at a point where her fate is let in jeopardy.
The preview, or tease really, for the final issue asks ‘Who will live? Who will die?’ going into the final issue. In most comic series you’d feel pretty certain that the hero will beat the villains and walk away, either to carry on with their life, or retire and find peace. But honestly, I’m not sure that’s something that we’re going to get here. Plainer Jane hasn’t been afraid to buck trends, to do things its own way, and to tell its story the way they want to rather than the way a reader might expect. I honestly don’t know if Jane is going to survive the final issue, and can easily see the series ending with her own brutal demise, and it’s really exciting to have a story where you’re not confident in the ending, and know anything can happen.
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The art for this issue is once again provided by Samir Simáo, who has been working on the book since taking over for Wayne Lowden after the first three issues. The art continues the established style for the book, with the black and white images with the occasional splash of colour. The start of the book, with the meeting between crime bosses, feels very dark and oppressive compared to the rest of the book, and sets the tone quite nicely, but some of the best work on the book comes in the final pages, set in the pouring rain. These panels feel full of energy and movement, and stands out from the rest of the book.
With just one issue left of the series the book is really ramping up the tension and building to what promises to be an explosive, and likely bloody, end. However it ends, whatever fate Jane finds for herself, I’m very much looking forward to seeing the conclusion.
Plainer Jane #6 is coming soon from Broken Face Comics.