This recently released graphic novel from Bluewater Comics compiles chapter 1 through 4 of the saga of a character dubbed Insane Jane, the Avenging Star. Jane is a mild-mannered hairdresser by day, but at night attempts to thwart crime, with the current target being a vicious nightclub arsonist. But as she closes in, a “series of unfortunate events” start wiping out those around her.
“Been there, seen that,” you say? Well, not so fast. You see, our hero Jane is not plain Jane, but insane Jane – as in DSM-Axis I schizophrenia-type delusion disorder, insane. And, of course, we are given the storyline action post-processing by her neurochemically imbalanced brain. When we are first introduced to Jane, she passes for reasonably normal, but socially awkward in a vaguely creepy way, kind of like the people dressed up as cartoon characters in theme parks that usually end up making kids bawl.
Throughout the series, though, Jane deteriorates into what could only be described as barking mad, as she foregoes her prescription meds for something with a little more kick, courtesy of her local neighborhood pusher. At this point, the reader is yelling at her, “Don’t do it!” as if she were the hapless babysitter in a horror movie going outside to see what that noise was. Jane then dons her Avenging Star costume and dashes from crime scene to crime scene, trying but failing to save the day, or was it all just a bad acid trip?
The artwork parallels her unraveling, as her appearance changes from standard manga-style depiction of young, attractive woman to what almost looks like a bug in her final scenes. The net effect is a rather sharp poke in the eye to the more formulaic superhero exploits and origin stories.
Overall, there was quite a lot of ingenuity and talent here in Insane Jane, but I felt it did fall a bit flat. I fully support the right, especially for a comic book, to be nothing but pure, unadulterated, check-your-brain-in-at-the-door entertainment. But it seemed as though this story wanted to be something more than just ironic. Is it possible to be banally insane? I’m not sure, but the strongest thing I was left with was the theme song of Nickelodeon’s Fairy Odd Parents playing in my head, as Jane reminded me of Vicky the babysitter.[subscribe2]