The independently produced comic series Plainer Jane, which follows a student nurse turned contract killer, comes to a close this month as its final issue receives its release and Jane’s story comes to an end. But how does the end stack up, and will this be the last that we get to see of Jane?
It’s been almost two years since the first issue of Plainer Jane was released, and in that time we’ve seen the series go through a number of changes. At the start Jane was a schoolgirl unsure about what to do with her future, harbouring dark thoughts about murder and killing. She wanted a way to indulge those compulsions, to channel her desire to kill into something useful, and decided that contract killing would be the way to go. But her first kills were pretty poorly executed, and pathetic things like being hired to kill a dog.
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Over the course of the series, however, Jane has grown as a person. She’s out of school and working as a student nurse, and we’ve seen her kill several people. She’s gone from being unsure how to commit the crime to scoping out locations, figuring out routines, and striking from the shadows with brutal efficiency. She’s changed a lot, and has become a legitimately dangerous person. But that kind of life is hard to sustain, and it has to end at some point. Especially when you’ve pissed off the local crime lords and ended up on their radar.
In the penultimate issue Jane’s identity was revealed to the criminals, her contact was killed, and she’d come under attack from a nasty crime boss who came close to killing her. It seems like her life is falling apart, and this final issue very much focuses on that. We see Jane trying to grasp at whatever pieces that she thinks that she might be able to control, hoping against hope that she might be able to salvage her life; but it’s a pretty vain hope, and come the end she realises that her only option is to run.
Whilst this makes sense, I couldn’t help but feel like it made the ending feel a bit deflated. The big final confrontation for Jane doesn’t come this issue, it was in the last issue, and this final part effectively spends its time wrapping things up. The police learn who she is and she loses her home life, the criminals are coming for her and she can’t stop them, and she loses her one friend. Things do end and get wrapped up in a way, but it also feels like there could be more to come. I like that there’s a possibility of more, that Jane’s story could continue on again later, but it does kind of feel like it comes at the expense of a real emotional resolution.
Another part of the book that gave me pause – and if you don’t want spoilers jump to the next paragraph – was Kat. Jane knows that the villains are watching her, that they’re out to get her, and so she seems to rope Kat in to help her out by going to the storage locker and getting her money for her. The problem is, the killers are waiting for her there, and it gets Kat killed. And for a moment I thought that this was her plan, that she wanted Kat to get killed in her place so that the bad guys think that she’s off the board and free to do whatever she wants. But she seems genuinely sad about her friend’s death, and even swears revenge (a set up for the next series perhaps?). I was left wondering if perhaps I’d interpreted it wrong, that Jane never intended for something bad to happen to Kat. I’d have liked the idea that she led her one friend to her death for her own gains, but perhaps that’s a bit too dark.
As with previous issues, the bulk of the art is provided by Samir Simao, and the artwork is the lovely black and white style that we’ve come to know. However, there are a few pages in the issue that have a completely different style, and come in colour. Drawn by Ralf Singh, these pages are used when the book starts taking us to places that don’t exist within the narrative, times when we’re being told stories. It not only breaks up the bulk of the book being black and white, but also helps to illustrate (no pun intended) that these segments are something a little different. The book looks great, and I can’t complain about the art at all. All of the characters are clear and distinct, and the action and moments of violence are clear and easy to understand.
On the whole this was a decent conclusion to the series. I went into it wanting certain things, wanting it to end with Jane going up against the villains in a big, violent sequence where she wins the day or goes down swinging. But that’s not really what the story is about. It’s about this girl; this damaged, disturbed young woman who is really no more than a serial killer. Her story wouldn’t be best served that way, and it needed an issue like this to end on. For those who’ve been reading since the start, it’s great to finally see it concluded; and we can always hope that there could be more to come some day.
Plainer Jane #7 is out now from Broken Face Comics.