When I was a teenager, I saw an old 70's “blaxploitation” film that knocked my hormonally charged self out. That movie was Foxy Brown and it starred the great Pam Grier as Foxy. Foxy was one bad assed lady, taking down baddies in her quest for vengeance. And even though she ran into some serious road blocks and several wardrobe malfunctions, she ended on top of the pile. She was my hero, but alas, she was of the 70’s and nobody seemed to want to go back to the “bad assed” heroine. Everything was all spandex and bright colors in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It kind of sucked. Apparently Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada felt the same way because when they were running their “Event Comics” line, they created a heroine that returned to that “tough girl” role without all the spandex and skin-tight suits. Sure the clothes might have been a little skimpy, but at least no spandex, and it worked for her. The character that they created, and who would go on to star in many areas of the comics and even the television world was Ms. Jane Vasko or better known as Painkiller Jane.
In her most recent comics run, Palmiotti states that he based Jane after “every single no-bullshit, resilient, smart, and self-confident woman in (his) life.” He must have had some serious females in his life because Jane Vasko is all that and more. Hell, she is the most no-bullshit, resilient, smart, and self-confident woman who I have ever seen in life whether in the real world or comics.
Painkiller Jane is the 90’s embodiment of Foxy Brown, except she is white, has red straight hair (instead of an afro), and has a healing factor. Ok, well maybe she isn’t quite Foxy Brown, but I see that same “bad assed” spirit in Jane that I saw in Foxy. They both have a sense of morality and “goodness” that drives them to fight evil wherever it may be and whatever pieces of clothing may get removed or lost in the process. They don’t care because they believe in themselves and know that they have it going on. They are total alpha females and their names are legendary.
Painkiller Jane’s legend has returned and will be added upon after a much too long hiatus. Jimmy Palmiotti has gotten two issues in on a new mini of Ms. Vasko and he is using the likes of Amanda Conner, Dave Johnson, Juan Santacruz and Sam Lotfi to turn Jane into the hardcore lady that she is. She hasn’t changed a bit, but may even look tougher which I didn’t even know was possible. I know that I wouldn’t want to run into her on the other side of a scrap, wardrobe malfunctions or not. If you don’t believe me, just ask “Captain Jack”, a perverted thug who encounters Jane in issue #2. I believe that he could testify to Jane’s “bad ass-ness”. The first two issues of this run have been wonderfully exciting and entertaining and even Palmiotti believes that this has been some of his best work regarding our quintessential tough girl. I agree. It has been a rocking good time thus far. Jane and her toughness may have been around for over twenty years, but she is just as strong as ever.