Doom Patrol: Crawling From the Wreckage

As the name suggests, Doom Patrol: Crawling From the Wreckage is a story of rebirth and renewal.  After the events of Invasion!, The Doom Patrol was essentially broken, with numerous members either dead, in a coma, or simply disheartened with the whole superhero gig.

Enter Grant Morrison to reimagine the group, introducing new members and creating unique and thought-provoking stories as only he can.

This trade was great, and it certainly made me want to read more about The Doom Patrol.  While I found all of the characters to be interesting in their own way, none was more fascinating than a new addition to the group: Crazy Jane.

Introduced to Cliff as a means of helping their mutually fragile mental states, Crazy Jane (real name Kay Challis) is a wholly unique character.

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From this panel, I knew I was going to like Jane.  Here was a type of character who, up until this point, had been virtually absent from comics:  one who has some sort of mental illness or “difference”, but who does not automatically choose a life of crime.  Instead, Jane is presented as a victim trying to work her way through her own experiences in the only way her brain knows how.  What’s more, after the “gene bomb”, she was accosted with numerous new abilities.  Somehow, each one of her numerous personalities has its own unique manifestation of power.

This is why I’ve really started to love Morrison’s writing.  Not only is it good, plain and simple, but it goes against the grain of everything else ever published up until this point.  Any other writer would have instantly made Jane a villain (if they could even come up with her origin story to begin with) and she would have been defeated after one, maybe two fights with any given superhero.  That’s the safe, easy road.

That’s the road Morrison never takes.

Jane, while volatile and a little unpredictable, has the ability to quite possibly be the strongest character ever in the DC universe.  With literally dozens of personalities, each with their own unique abilities, Jane could be unstoppable.  What’s more, it seems that Jane’s personalities, though many, are also quite ordered, existing together in her mind in a very organized manner.  Not once do we see her lose control of one of her powers, inflicting damage on anyone unwillingly.  At most, we see her answer Cliff rather shortly, to which she quickly apologizes, blaming the gruff response on one of her many personalities.

On top of the brilliant characterization as a tortured, timid soul, she is also a total badass when she wants to be:

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I absolutely love that a character so menacing, so terrifying, is fighting for the good guys.  People might assume they know where she falls on the moral line based on her situation, but ultimately Jane is in control.  Despite her circumstances, she’s powerful, crafty, and all together an amazing asset to The Doom Patrol.

Other things happen in this trade, but I just couldn’t stop focusing on Crazy Jane.  She’s such an unlikely hero, and yet I think that’s why I’m drawn to her so much.  There have been numerous characters dubbed simply “crazy” (basically anyone ever sent to Arkham), even though these people likely suffer from any number of mental ailments that could never be so basely categorized.  With Jane, we get to see the opposite side of the coin, with her mental abnormalities manifesting themselves for the benefit of mankind, rather than its destruction.

Morrison’s creation of such a wonderfully flawed and all-around different character deserves applause.  If asked to choose a hero out of a list of people, Jane is likely to be the last one picked by anyone.  That’s what makes her so amazing, though.  She subverts just about every expectation and emerges as the unlikeliest, but also possibly the strongest, character in this trade.

As if that’s not enough explanation as to why I like her so much, there’s also this: I relate to Jane on a personal level.

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Apparently we have a similar one-track mind when it comes to reading, which in my book (pun intended) just makes her even more amazing than she already was.

The only difference is that when I obsess over books, my head’s not usually on fire. I guess that’s what differentiates the heroes from the civilians.

-Jess

PS: Somebody drop a gene bomb.  I want superpowers, dammit.

 

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