Hello, my friends. Even with the multiple shots that life and the outside world has fired upon us, we’re still striving, grinding and surviving our way towards proper resolutions. As the years go on, that includes making necessary changes and going up against whole new kinds of obstacles. On that note, I welcome you all back to…
So far, we’ve delved into Jane Vasko’s early years. Within a five-year time frame of comic book releases, she’s gone from being a wide-eyed, optimistic cop to a rough-and-tumble vigilante with an abnormally strong Healing Factor. Throughout her journey, she only has a select group of friends. There’s a female detective whom she knows from their police training days who also acts as her informant, a group of women assassins that has its group name & two of its members inspired by an actual music band, a doctor who provides the medical care that her Healing Factor can’t provide and a mob boss who used to be an opposition to her and the fierce female team, but is now an ally, especially with his two right-hand men providing support. For her early-goings, Vasko has taken on a child-kidnapping group of thugs dressed up as clowns, dealt with a consciously-conflicted, yet murderous doctor, fended off a mob boss due to foiling his series of jewelry heists and has even gone up against a devious subterranean ruler who uses discarded children & young adults to serve his city-wide purpose. Not only that, but Jane has even teamed up with several noteworthy comic book characters for several one-shot ventures, ranging from serial to supernatural and everything in-between. After a five-year hiatus, it’s time for her to make a comeback. However, it won’t be under the same publishing house.
If you ever wondered why Painkiller Jane was in a Marvel Knights book, it’s because it ties in with Marvel’s history at that point. In the mid-to-late ’90s, the company was greatly suffering from the speculator boom and had even filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Of course, they’ve since recovered from that whole mess, but during that time (1998, specifically), they contacted Event Comics to help bring some creative life to some of their secondary characters. Jimmy Palmiotti and company would work on several notable books, which included the Punisher, before Joe Quesada ultimately became Marvel’s editor-in-chief. As for Event Comics themselves, the company was ultimately folded in 1999. Even with Vasko’s lone time within the Big Red M’s spotlight, she wouldn’t be brought back into the popular consciousness of comic book fans until Dynamite Entertainment (based in Mount Laurel, New Jersey) was formed in 2004. Not too long afterwards, Palmiotti and Quesada would get the opportunity to bring their creation back for a brand new adventure.
Released in March, May and August 2006, this second volume sees Palmotti handling the main script, while he and Quesada have crafted the story. As for the art work, Lee Moder had the pencil art covered, while Pilvi Kuusela of Imaginary Friends Studios has been placed on coloring duties. As for the kind of harrowing crime that she’ll have to deal with, let’s bundle up as we prepare to embrace “The Dead Of Winter”.
We open within the familiar room of the Spicer Memorial Hospital as Jane wakes up at midnight. As she staggers around while drinking, she narrates how she recently fought several “wannabe Russian gangsters” and brought an end to their “imaginary turf war”. Though her arms and legs were cut up during the fight, her Healing Factor has dealt with her injuries. She then picks up a newspaper that was left outside of her door and learns that the Fitzgerald Celebrity Fundraiser is in danger of being canceled due to the snowstorm. From there, she takes her fun and threatens to shoot herself through her mouth.
Meanwhile at 12:10am, Det. Maureen Fernandez (who’s now blonde) has exited the Sleepy Hollow Retirement Home. After getting inside her car, she decides to make a phone call. Back with Vasko, she decides to end her life and pulls the trigger. Though the gun was empty and her life was spared, she angrily smacks her head with the firearm before getting a call from Maureen. She tells her longtime friend to meet up with her at their “usual place” in one hour. Jane notices an odd tone in Fernandez’ voice and ask about it, but she says that she’s fine before she angrily tells Vasko to arrive before hanging up.
Later, Painkiller Jane is hanging out at a diner called The Beat, where she narrates how it’s not like her friend to be running late. Eventually, Maureen arrives and gives her a paper about her assignment. Ultimately, Jane arrives within a rundown part of Brooklyn called the Red Hook. She approaches an abandoned building that being guarded by two guys. He tries to shoo her away on the grounds of this being “a private residence”, but Vasko wastes no time in shooting the two goons with a pair of silencer-attached guns. She then makes her way inside before she ultimately reaches the basement door. Suddenly, a gagged woman leaps out towards her, wearing bondage gear and a dog collar that’s attached to a chain. Jane tries to remove the gag from the lady’s mouth, but she’s struggling within her grasp. As such, Vasko hits her with enough force to knock her out.
Down in the basement, the muscled fiend tugs on the chain and orders for his captured woman to return. Suddenly, he’s met upon by Painkiller Jane who shoots him in the leg. After subduing the fiend with a bullet in his left arm, she examines one of the abused women who points her towards the subterranean cells. From there, she shockingly discovers several women who’ve been tortured, abused and even mutilated.
Afterwards, she returns to the abusing fiend and kicks him in the face. Even though he grabs a scalpel and stabs her in the foot, she take it out and jams it into his eye. He then demands to be killed off, but she says that she intends on getting some answers from him. He initially refuses to talk, but she shoots an ear off of him and says that he’s not going to easily get out of this. Ultimately, she guns him down and pulls off his mask to look at his face. Suddenly, she’s met upon by a goon who shoots her in the shoulder. Fortunately, she disarms and subdues him before telling him to get both the cops & an ambulance squad, or else she’ll kill him. Not to mention, she’ll be watching him in order to make sure that he follows through on her request. As she takes her leave, he proceeds to make the call before the police arrive twenty minutes later. While overseeing this from afar, she discovers that the goon is in alliance with these particular policemen.
Later, she arrives back at her private room within Spicer Memorial Hospital as Dr. Seth Hiller tends to her wounded shoulder. During her narration, it’s revealed that he’s been delivering a newspaper to her room. Shortly after getting treated, she proceeds to get some rest as he kisses her head and takes his leave. We then shift ahead to midnight as Vasko wakes up and gets the paper. She discovers the main headline that mentions the death of John Fitzgerald, whom she recognizes as the torturous fiend that she axed off, and the two cops. She then narrates how even though the goons are aware of her executions of these men, the newspaper doesn’t mention her name. Even still, she knows that they’re going to get rid of the kidnapped women before they come after her. And so, Issue 1 ends with her loading up her guns and getting dressed with her intent of making sure that this horrific act doesn’t happen.
Issue 2 begins on the NYPD rooftop as Maureen narrates about her finding out about John, the son of billionaire Bruce Fitzgerald, and his perverse smuggling of women. She passed this information on to Painkiller Jane and allowed her to go after the scumbag. However, the men who guarded the building were undercover cops and the one that she allowed to live identified her to the authorities. While she doesn’t have any problem with those crooked cops getting their comeuppance, her department has now placed her in charge of a task force that aims to bring Vasko to justice. Just then, she’s met upon by a fellow detective named Lou Webber who tells Fernandez that she’s needed for the upcoming briefing. However, he’s on her side as they plan to send the task force off course in order to finish their true task. Suddenly, he heads down just as Maureen gets a cell phone call from Jane. Fernandez informs her about the police cars that showed up at the crime scene, even though they weren’t from the general area. Not only that, but the four officials were actually hired hands under Bruce’s rule. Vasko then learns that he’s hiding out in Uptown over at 81st Street & Park Avenue with his grandfather and wife within a building called “Camelot”. She also learns that the guy that she allowed to live was a dirty cop who went on to identify here to the police. After mentioning that she doesn’t care, Jane tells her detective friend that there’s still some captured women who were taken somewhere and that she has to find them. After Maureen reminds her that there’s some clean cops over at Bruce’s location, Vasko reminds her friend to keep the task force away from her for as long as possible.
Following her phone call, she makes her way through Times Square before taking a taxi to her destination. Over at his private apartment, Bruce asks the officials for some temporary privacy. Once they’re alone, he gets scolded by his wife Joan for smuggling their deceased son’s captured women into their home. He assures her that they’re being held within their soundproof attic and that no one saw them being smuggled in, to which she tells him to have his “fun” before he gets them out. She even calls her husband out for having their son inherit his sick practices before he dismisses him to deal with his mess, while she and Grandpa deal with things on the main floor. Up on the rooftop, Jane oversees the building while the cops stand guard down on ground level. After she spots Bruce heading into the soundproof attic in order to torture some captured women, Vasko decides to open fire on him, attracting the attention of the officials in the process. However, the window was enforced by bulletproof glass as Bruce looks on in bloody glee. Over at an NYPD station, Maureen & Lou hear about this as they speed off to help out their vigilante comrade, especially since the police is sending several men up to the roof in order to surround her. During their mad dash, Fernandez mentions that she “should have walked away from the old lady” before dismissing that notion.
Meanwhile, Painkiller Jane is being chased by a small group of officers. She does throw down a gun and says that she wants to surrender, but she narrates that they wouldn’t believe it. As such, she managed to climb up a water tower before jumping down towards them, even taking a bullet to the leg. This causes one of the surprised cops to fall off as Jane jumps down and grabs him. From there, she positions herself where she would take the blunt end of the car that they end up falling onto. As she staggers away, the cop wearily tells her to stop before he manages to shoot her from behind and out through her stomach. This causes her to pass out before she’s met upon by a pair of people.
We then shift to a GNN newscast where Bruce and his remaining family were evacuated from their home before it suddenly explodes, injuring a pair of detectives and several civilians. Not only that, but the police claims that the bomb that took down the building was set by the attempted assassin. From there, the young officer that Jane saved from falling to his death identifies her as the killer, even claiming that he took her out. Meanwhile, Jane is back at Spicer Memorial Hospital and receiving medical care from Seth, thanks to Maureen & Lou saving her in time. After they watch the newscast, Fernandez says that the bombing was meant for the Fitzgeralds’ to cover their own tracks. After Webber says that they should go back to the crime scene, she tells him that they have to finish this job and that she got all of her information about the fiendish family from a particular person. She offers to inform her along the way, but he says that he has to get home since his babysitter is about to finish watching after his kids. After he takes his leave, Maureen learns from Dr. Hiller that even though Painkiller Jane has lost loads of blood, her Healing Factor is clotting up her bullet holes at an abnormally fast rate. However, her spine was chipped by the cop’s gun shot. Thankfully, everything else has medically checked out for her. From there, Fernandez gives her longtime friend a kiss on the forehead before heading out. We then shift into a dream where Jane shoots a pair of devious doctors for attempting to cut off her arms. After she escapes from the hospital, she runs out to the city streets and finds it eerily empty. Suddenly, she’s met upon by a few members of the 22 Brides driving a dump truck carrying an overflowing pile of bodies as Carrie scolds her sloppiness for only scratching the surface of this human abduction scheme. Libby even tells her to get moving to deal with her “unfinished business”. After Vasko blames herself, she’s then put into her younger years as Maureen says that she shouldn’t blame herself as Jane remembers her from their police academy days. She’s then met upon by her deceased dog named Poochie, whom she greatly loved when she was a child. She even remembers holding her pet while the veterinarian had to put it down, due to it succumbing to cancer. Even though she learned that life is unfair and that every single thing that she loved will end up leaving her some day, her parents did tell her that she’s stronger. As such, she’s going to make her foes pay. Back with Lou, he arrives back at his apartment before noticing that the lock on his front door has been ripped out. He draws his gun and heads inside before he’s met upon by a hitman, who’s tied up his wife & children and demands to know where he can find our titular vigilante.
From there, Fitzgerald demands to know where he can find Painkiller Jane. Back at the hospital, Vasko wakes up and learns that Maureen & Lou managed to sneak her unconscious body back here amidst the chaos within the city. She tries to get up, but Seth says that her back is bruised and that he has to perform an X-Ray in order to find out if there’s any internal bleeding. Even though she says that her Healing Factor is doing its job, he still wants her to rest up due to her extensive wounds. She then admits her appreciation of his tireless medical care for her and even asks him to lean over in order to tell him something. Suddenly, the hitman bursts in. Dr. Hiller tries to intervene, but he gets slapped away. Jane tries to take out a gun from underneath her pillow, but he’s able to disarm her before picking her up by her neck. Thankfully, she disorients him by punching both sides of his face. From there, Issue 2 ends with her charging right at the hitman as they smash through the window and begin to fall towards the ground.
Issue 3 opens with Vasko and the opposing assassin falling towards the street while she narrates about everything that’s happened throughout this series. From there, they violently land onto a cab. As she bleeds all over, she stumbles back into the hospital while the hitman tries to follow after her. Thankfully, she’s met upon by Seth before telling a pair of nearby guards about the man pursuing her. From there, he proceeds to get gunned down while Dr. Hiller helps Jane onto an elevator. She tells him that the fiend was a hired gun and that she must call Maureen in order to find out if she’s safe. Thankfully, Seth says that she’s called him up and that both she and Lou are doing good. For now, Vasko learns that she’ll be placed in another room for her safety before she passes out.
Later, she wakes up in the company of Fernandez, Hiller & Webber before discovering that she’s been asleep for nine days. After Seth gets dismissed, Lou admits to Jane that he was the one who helped the hit man towards her hospital room, due to the fiend holding his family up at gunpoint. Vasko assures him that he shouldn’t feel guilty for doing what he had to do, before Maureen says that she found him tied up alongside him family. Even though she and Webber had called up Dr. Hiller, the hitman was taken care of by the time they arrived. She then reveals that they discovered that Bruce hired the fiend and several “freelancers” to execute Jane. Vasko asks about what happened to these so-called killers over the nine days that she’s been out of action, to which Maureen and Lou managed to rub out two of them, get three more arrested and even leave one within Jane’s closet. As she walks over to the captured fiend, Vasko asks about the current status of the Fitzgerald family. Fernandez says that it’s complicated and that they actually saved the goon, due to the fact that he’s served the fiendish family for a long time. Maureen then says that she captured the guy after he attempted to follow her back to her place on the previous night. From there, they open the closet as Jane learns that the captured ladies who were held at Bruce’s house were killed within the explosion. Not only that, but the Fitzgerald family is under witness protection. Vasko then drags the guy out of the closet before dismissing Maureen and Lou, since she prefers to be alone while she interrogates him. Over at the diner, Webber asks his partner if Jane will actually kill the opposing guy, to which Fernandez says that Vasko has her own method that she supports, no matter what their comrade ultimately decides to do. She also reminds him that the fiend did follow her back to her house with a loaded gun in his pocket before she preps her offer to join her in going after the Fitzgerald clan. He says that he’s trying to be smart, especially since the opposing family is under witness protection and that he doubts that Painkiller Jane will be able to find out much. Just then, she comes in and says that the fiend has spilled the beans about everything that he knew.
She explains that the man is named Higgins and that he was on the Fitzgerald family’s payroll for over a quarter-century. Not only that, he also shared the address of someone that she should talk to. From there, Jane gets a ride from Maureen as they make their way towards the Sleepy Hollow Retirement Home. From there, they pull off to the side as Vasko wonders why her friend is doing this. From there, Fernandez fills her in on who there’re going to see. She explains that she visited her Aunt Jean out there, due to her own forgetfulness and was placed there for her safety. Thankfully, she made some friends pretty well. As Maureen left, she was met by a wheelchair-bound woman and says that she recognized her from her aunt. It turns out that she’s Grandma Ada Fitzgerald and that she had some intriguing information about her devious family, including the fact that they purposely “drugged her up and put her in the home”. Fernandez also says that the elderly lady was very lucid & smart and only plays “potato” around certain people, namely nurses and her own family. Not only that, but she’s been avoiding the forced drugs over the past half-year. Through this method, the unsuspecting family openly shared information with her, including what she learned about her fiendish grandson and his malevolent acts towards his captured women. Not only that, but she also shared the names of corrupt cops that assisted him in his operation. Finally, she shared the fact that her husband had to change their name when they made their way to America following World War II, especially since he was a doctor within a concentration camp. As such, he was hunted down for his horrendous crime against humanity before escaping by marrying into a clean family and disappearing from their sights. However, this didn’t prevent him from resuming his horrific acts within America, with him even bringing his son in on the grisly act while his wife had an affair with the grandfather and gave birth to John. Not only was the Fitzgerald family messed up in those aspects, but they had the financial backing to keep themselves away from the long arm of the law. However, that changed once Ada shared all of this with Maureen. Jane then realizes that these horrid acts have been going on for over six decades with hundreds of innocents killed and several others bribed into keeping quiet, while also feeding into their gruesome acts. Fernandez then says that she came across several unsolved crimes that fit their devious intents, but are far too numerous to list. As such, this is why she contacted Vasko in the first place. However, the Fitzgerald family has now placed themselves in witness protection. Jane finds that stupid, especially since the torturous clan had sent some hired help to bump off anyone who tried to get close, including our two main ladies. Knowing that the murderous clan won’t cease their activities unless they’re stopped, Vasko asks for the location of where they’re hiding out in order to take care of this by herself.
One week later, she’s on her way towards her assignment as she briefly stops at a gas station. Despite the gas attendant being a little leery, he manages to point her towards Jerome, Arizona. Ultimately, she arrives at a former hospital-turned-hotel called the Jerome Grand. She makes her way to the check-in desk and says that she has a reservation, but the clerk tries to tell her that the entire hotel is booked. Thankfully, she pulls a taser from her travel bag and shocks him. After tying him up, she scans the set of hotel room keys and discovers a set of three rooms that’re currently occupied. She makes her way up and flushes out a trio of bodyguards with some smoke grenades. After she takes them out with some tranquilizer darts, she finally reaches the Fitzgeralds and catches them.
We then shift ahead to the next morning as Jane drives the murderous trio out to the middle of the Arizona desert before arriving next to a cliff. After mentioning that she has cell phone service out here, she takes Bruce out and tells him that he’s going to call up his contact and cancel the contract that’s on her head. If he doesn’t comply, she’ll pistol whip his wife. He ultimately agrees as he calls up his devious cop and tells him to call off their pursuit. Meanwhile, Maureen does her part and gets another contact that she’s beaten up to call off their contract. Afterwards, she gets a call from Vasko who hears the good news before mentioning that she’ll deal with the heads of the Fitzgerald family in her own way. After laying on her car and mentioning how the world would be better off without him and his murderous clan based on what she’s found out about them via some extensive research, she ultimately executes him with a bullet in his head. Afterwards, she takes Joan & the grandfather out of the car and tells them that they’re not going to survive this ordeal. Despite Joan offering her whatever she wants in order to be spared, Vasko refuses and tells them to confess their crimes in order to receive a less harsh death. Ultimately, the grandfather agrees to tell her “everything”. He ultimately tells her that Ada was drugged over the last fifteen years in order to be kept quiet. From there, Jane proceeds to take them out off-panel.
After a four-day car ride back across the country, she arrives at the Sleepy Hollow Retirement Home in order to visit Ada. After they head outside, Vasko brings up her late-husband’s confession. In it, she reveals that Ada used to be a doctor’s assistant during the tail end of World War II, but she wasn’t “the kind of doctor that helps people”. Outside of a concentration camp, she executed a family within Birkenau and stole their identities in order to flee to America. Once there, she funded a Neo Nazi Party and manipulated those around her, including her own children. After hearing about Maureen’s detective skills via her mother, Ada decided to use her in order to take her own family out. Even though her husband found out that she’s taking the prescribed drugs, she combined that with the “hurt mental grandma in an old age home” image as her alibi in order to carry out her ultimate end goal: ratting out her family before she gets control of the whole inheritance. Vasko then tells Ada that Maureen examined some of her cloaked accounts and discovered that she was donating two million per year towards her affiliated Nazi parties. From there, Jane calls her out for manipulating her dysfunctional family from the beginning. Even though the fiendish, elderly lady has successfully pulled her scheme off, Jane just offers a simple smug before hitting Ada in the knee with a pipe before kicking her down a hill where she ultimately glides to a stop upon the frozen lake. However, Ada manages to survive this ordeal. Vasko rectifies that by firing around her before she falls in. From there, the series ends as she takes her leave while narrating how she does her part in making “the world a better place…one dead body at a time”.
From there, fans didn’t wait too long for Dynamite Entertainment to continue the ongoing adventures of their favorite anti-heroine. Released somewhat sporadically between April 2007 and March 2008, there were six total issues for this third overall volume. However, the last two issues will be omitted from this section since she’s crossing paths with another famous franchise in those entries. We’ll get there in good time, but for now, let’s delve into Issues #0-3. Palmiotti would once again handle the main script, while also teaming up with fellow creator Quesada to craft the story. Moder would return to handle the art work, while Chris Garcia handles the coloring duties. So, what kind of harrowing heights will Lady Vasko face for the first four issues? Let’s lock & load up and find out while “Everything Explodes”.
We open at a barbershop/tattoo parlor called Skin Printz as Jane is getting a tattoo on her butt, courtesy of Joey Slaps. In her narration, she says that she’s been staking out the building over the past two days for Det. Fernandez. She’s also working undercover as a customer and getting said tattoo on her behind, while also mentioning that her Healing Factor will ultimately get rid of it, especially since it expels “anything foreign” from her body and would include the lead within tattoo ink. She would go on to narrate how her friend Maureen had been tracking some homicides and a cop killing within the various boroughs, with the guns seeming to come out from the area that Vasko is currently in. Specifically, a “skell” got mad at her “boy toy” and ratted him out for a plea bargain, which is what led Painkiller Jane and Det. Fernandez to this parlor. However, the lack of enough physical evidence to get a search warrant and the men that Maureen had to watch the place didn’t come up with anything significant. As such, Jane has been brought in to do something about it. Suddenly, a messy-looking young man stumbles in and ask for a tattoo, specifically for a girl’s name (Shashima) upon his shoulder. Joey asks for $150, but the guy only has $54. As such, he heads out to get the remaining money. Afterwards, the aforementioned “boy toy” named Popeye takes Joey off to the side and says that the woman that he’s making a tattoo for is possibly an undercover cop. Slaps says that he’ll finish off his current business while Popeye handles Martin.
Suddenly, Martin himself shows up to do his business. Afterwards, the messy man returns with the money and nervously asks to get his tattoo right away. Unfortunately, Joey learns that the guy got the remaining amount cash by robbing a nearby bank. As such, the police arrive and surround the building. Up on the second floor, two thugs are holding up with the massive stash of guns as one of them is prepared to not back down in order to avoid going back to jail. Back on the main floor, Martin tells the nervous guy to go outside and get arrested. However, he desperately wants his tattoo, since he’s about to be imprisoned and he doesn’t want any of his fellow prisoners to think that he’s gay. Shortly after the cops examine the room and call out to the thugs for them to surrender, Jane gets up and tells Martin to not shoot, or else things will go from bad to worse. As Popeye heads upstairs and Joey chastises Martin for potentially messing things up, Vasko senses the latter’s growing paranoia and how itchy his trigger finger is getting. Thankfully, she dodges his gunshot in time as it takes out the nervous goon. From there, a fierce shootout erupts as Martin prepares to fire a powerful weapon at the police. Joey tries to get Jane upstairs, but she manages to grab his gun-wielding hand and fire at Martin. As the fiend falls backwards, he unfortunately squeezes the trigger as the whole building get rocked by his powerful shot and collapses, thus bringing the prelude issue to an explosive end.
Issue 1 opens with Vasko narrating about what she last remembered from her undercover assignment back at the tattoo parlor in Brooklyn before it was blown up and she ended up blacking out within a white light. After regaining her consciousness, she begin to tear through her body bag and begins to realize that she’s in an ambulance that’s heading for the hospital. She then sits up and gets the medics’ attention, which rightfully startles them and forces them to stop (while bumping into a parked car) as she gets out, despite barely wearing any clothes.
Later, she’s on a subway car after the male medic gave her his jacket, his subway pass and some water. In her narration, she mentions how Maureen wanted her to only scope out the parlor, but she wound up getting their necessary evidence destroyed alongside the building itself. She then mentions that her Healing Factor is making some good progress on getting her back to full health and that she needs to call up Det. Fernandez in order to explain her side of the situation. She then notices that despite not having any pants to wear, none of the passengers are giving her awkward stares. After checking out her fellow train riders, she then notices a particular guy who’s profusely sweating. Suddenly, he begins to take a few things out of his pouch, starting with a gas mask. However, things start to get serious when he takes out a vial containing an unknown substance. Just as he releases it onto the unsuspecting passengers, Jane lunges for him while telling the patrons to lay down on the ground. With the toxic gas beginning to make its way into her system, she quickly disorients the guy with a swift punch before taking a wrench from a nearby tool box and smashing it through a window in order for it to disperse from the subway car. However, the guy manages to run out once they arrive at the Canal Street station. After yelling for Homeland Security, a Hazmat Unit and a bus to be brought to the station, she reaches a pair of police officers and tells them about what just happened.
Afterwards, she reaches the main street and begins to look for the perp amongst the massive crowd. She manages to find the guy pushing through the masses and following a quick vomiting session (due to the gas), she runs after him. The man runs into the street and crashes into a guy on a Moped. By the time that she’s about to reach the fiend, she starts to get dizzy as a result of the gas. The perp gets up and tries to run away, but he gets hit by a Laurie and gets his right leg broken. Vasko wearily crawls to him while she desperately tries to avoid passing out when suddenly, a woman in a black trench coat approaches the perp (who’s named Gilad) and asks him if he knows her. She then says something that Jane is unable to hear due to her ringing head as the guy says that he “didn’t have anything to do with that”. However, this displeases the woman as she stabs him in the chest and kills him, right before she notices Vasko who passes out immediately afterwards.
We then cut to a few days later at Mercer Memorial Hospital as Seth analyzes the toxic gas that was released within the subway gas, discovering that it’s an unusual strain of condensed chlorine gas. From there, he’s met upon by Maureen who informs her about this new kind of lethal vapor. He explains that it causes acute damage to the upper & lower respiratory tract and that it’s ten times deadlier than any other strain that’s on record. After matching the sample that was found in Brooklyn, he then says that the gas can only harm people when they breathe it in and that it can’t be absorbed through the epidermis. Other than the fact that it wasn’t made in America, its country of origin is unknown. As such, he has to check where each of the contents came from. He explains that the gas’ main ingredient is hypochlorous acid and that was manufactured over in Kuwait. While the remainder of the mix is common, there’s another chemical that’s actually a mutation which makes the gas “a much stronger weapon”. He then eases Det. Fernandez by saying that Jane has survived and will need a lot of rest. Just then, Vasko walks in on them before getting a hug from Maureen. Jane then asks her how she wound up in the hospital, to which Det. Fernandez says that her partner Lou was called about a Jane Doe in Chinatown that fit her friend’s description. From there, they met up and brought Vasko to the hospital. Maureen then asks her friend about the gas-releasing guy that was stabbed, to which Jane tells her that another woman did it. After commending her friend for saving the majority of the subway passengers (with only an elderly succumbing to a heart attack), Det. Fernandez then says that traces of said gas were found in the Brooklyn building that blew up and that there’s a strong connection between that and the gas that Jane briefly had in her system. Just then, Maureen gets a call while Vasko learns from Dr. Hiller that her “sped-up metabolism” helped her expel the unknown chemical from her body in only a few days, but that he needs her to be in bed for a little while longer. He’s especially serious, since a lethal gas like that is a terrorist’s dream weapon in biological warfare and that she suffered a big blow from it while saving the passengers. Afterwards, Det. Fernandez concludes her call and says that another chemical attack has just occurred at Grand Central Station and another “stiff” got stabbed to death. Not only that, but a witness managed to see a woman fleeing from the scene. Jane tries to get up and help her, but her wooziness kicks in again as she passes out.
Later, Maureen arrives at Grand Central Station and learns about what’s occurred from the horrific act, namely seven deceased males within the men’s room and that the dispersed chemical compound is the same from the prior subway incident. Afterwards, she gets shown the man who was fatally stabbed. It turns out he also had a chemical vial before a witness saw him approached by a woman who knocked him down, spoke to him for a bit and then relieved him of his life. Unbeknownst to Det. Fernandez, that same mystery woman is eyeing her from within the crowd. She then narrates that this is the third time that she saw Maureen at this kind of crime scene and that she “took the red-haired girl” from the prior incident and into the police car. Believing that there’s some kind of connection, she proceeds to follow Det. Fernandez and find out if she works for the people that she’s after. Eventually, she’s led to Mercer Memorial Hospital and allows Maureen to ride the elevator by herself in order to learn what floor she ends up at, discovering that it’s the 22nd floor. She then reaches Vasko’s room and is stunned to discover that she’s alive as she’s forced to take cover.
Two days later, Jane wakes up within a oceanside cabin and discovers a note. She learns that Hiller and Fernandez are giving her a much-deserved break from the hectic city action in order to get some badly-needed rest. After learning that there’s a nude beach within walking distance, she learns that Seth is over in Bay Shore to get some supplies before he drops off Maureen at the Long Island Express that she can take back to the main city. As such, he’ll return much later before inviting her to have fun over on Fire Island. Afterwards, she begins to stroll upon the sand before she ultimately reaches the nude beach. As she sets up a spot to relax, she narrates about Seth being very selfless towards her and wonders if he’ll ever make any kind of move, especially since she knows about his longtime crush for her. As she begins to relax, she continues her narration by mentioning that she adores both him and her longtime friend Maureen, especially since Fernandez still carries the guilt that befell upon her from their botched undercover assignment, especially since it left Vasko forever changed from the incident. She then shifts her thoughts back to her appreciation towards Dr. Hiller, especially since he’s always available to patch her up, despite her not having any medical coverage. As such, she wants to show him how much he means to her someday. While taking in the peaceful scenery of the nude beach, she notices a note that Maureen has written her. Essentially, she tells Jane to “get some well-deserved rest and relaxation”, as well as enjoying life’s finer things. Not to mention, Det. Fernandez recommends that her friend take action on Seth’s feeling for her before concluding that she should take advantage of her time at the nude beach. As such, Vasko decides to act on it by removing her top.
Three hours later, she’s met upon by another topless woman who notices that Jane’s back has gotten some sunburn. The lady introduces herself as Ajira before offering to rub some aloe on her. After Jane introduces herself, she learns that Ajira has been on Fire Island for a few days longer than she has before completing the secluded land as “no place on Earth”. Vasko then narrates about how it’s been a long time since someone touched her in such a comforting way before Ajira compliments her butt tattoo, as well as her body. From there, some romantic sparks begin to pop up between the two as Issue 1 ends with them sharing a kiss.
Issue 2 begins at sunset as Jane narrates about the wondrous vacation that she’s having over on Fire Island, especially since she hasn’t had one since her carefree childhood when she was sent to a summer camp in Upstate New York. She arrives at an open-air, seaside bar where she has some drinks with Seth. During that, she narrates about him as a friend who’s always there for her and that he’s a caring man who truly loves her. Shortly afterwards, Ajira arrives to join them. During the group’s time together, Vasko narrates about whether Dr. Hiller is able to figure out her newly-formed relationship with her newfound friend, especially since the situation helped her take part in something that he never thought she “was capable of”. She even mentions that Ajira has “something deeper” about her that she’s unable to pin down and even wonders if her flirtation towards Seth is simply her being kind to him, or if it’s her way of playing some kind of game. As the group receives another round of margaritas, Jane and Ajira plan on meeting up again in the same spot at about 11 am. Dr. Hiller wonders if what they’re talking would get him aroused about his profession as a doctor and that Ajira wouldn’t mind if he examined her while Vasko is also nearby.
Back in the city, a guy in a suit tells a young man to take a package that’s within his backpack and deliver it to a certain address on Roosevelt Island. As such, the guy gets on the cable car and gets sent on his way. During the ride, he talks with a mother whose child tries to play with his ears. As the woman starts to notices her nervousness, she hears a beeping coming from the cell phone that’s in his backpack. However, he says that he doesn’t have one as it’s soon discovered that it was a bomb as it blows up the cable car and does some damage to the nearby bridge. Over at a nearby apartment, Maureen has just taken a shower and is talking to her cat. Just as she wonders what Jane and Seth are up to, the exploding cable car delivers a powerful shockwave that shatters her windows and surprises her.
Back over on Fire Island, Seth is throwing up on the beach as a result of having one too many margaritas. From there, Vasko and Ajira help him back to his seaside cabin before they place him on his bed. After placing a waste basket near him in case he vomits again, Jane is about to head out with Ajira before she suddenly gets a call. With Det. Fernandez calling her to share the recent grim news, Vasko excuses her new friend for the night as Ajira gives her a kiss on the cheek before heading out. From there, Jane learns about the cable car explosion. We then shift ahead to the next morning as she takes a shower within the outdoor stall. She narrates that even with the disturbing phone call from last night, it doesn’t encourage her to leave Fire Island anytime soon. As she’s singing a certain Beach Boys song in the shower, she’s met upon by Seth who’s suffering from a hangover and asks her to pipe down. However, she simply and comically responds by putting his face into her chest in order to calm him down. Later, she’s at the beach as she waits for Ajira to show up. After a certain amount of time however, she doesn’t arrive as Vasko takes her leave back to the cabin.
As she heads inside however, she’s surprised to discover Seth beaten and tied up by Ajira. Jane charges in to attack, but Ajira dodges in time and kicks her out through the screen door. From there, she delivers a swift kick to Vasko’s face before pinning her down and cutting her cheek with a knife. Ajira then demands to know who she works for, but Jane retaliates by throwing some sand into her face and delivering some fierce strikes.
She then drags Ajira into the ocean and says that she has no idea what she’s talking about, but she’s about to pay for entering her life and hurting Dr. Hiller. Vasko then proceeds to dunk her under the water before the newly-freed Seth runs out and tells her to stop since they have to learn what Ajira wants.
As she blacks out while being strangled underwater, we then shift back to the cabin as Ajira’s life was spared, but she’s now tied up. Seth tells her that she’ll be fine, but she acts rude to him. As a result, he shows a hidden and far-more fierce side by punching her in the face, which shocks Jane in amazement. She then proceeds with her interrogation by holding the knife to Ajira and asking her “to speak up”. She initially refuses to speak up, but Vasko calmly requests for some ice before laying out how she’s going to operate: Once she asks a question, she’s cut off one of Ajira’s fingers if she’s lying or refuses to answer. Jane then assures her that she & Seth aren’t the people that she thinks they are and if she cooperates, then she’ll “show some compassion”. Ultimately, Ajira decides to share her situation with them.
She explains that she followed the trail of a splinter group of Al-Qaeda extremists that came into America, since they smuggled a shipment into New York Harbor, which resulted in several high-grade weapons finding their ways onto the streets. However, she doesn’t work for any police or government agency. Instead, it’s for a government subsidized shipping company out in Kuwait, which took care of the transport of various goods for both North and South America. One month ago, she got a phone call from her parents who were kidnapped by a group of terrorists. In exchange for their release, they ordered her to re-route a particular government shipment from Kuwait to America. She was able to do this, since she’s a diplomat. When Vasko asks her why she didn’t just contact the authorities, Ajira says that she did just that. However, the terrorists found out and informed her that her mother will lose a finger as a result. She’s then ordered to thank the police captain for his help before returning home to await their further instructions. Eventually, she received a gift from said fiends, which turned out to be her mom’s wedding ring with her finger attached to it. Afterwards, she got their instructions over the internet and did what they asked her to do. Seth then wonders what any of this has to do with her following them over to Fire Island, to which she continues her explanation in that it took four days, but she got to import the toxic chemicals into New York City. Four days later, the terrorists informed her that she would get her parents back, as long as she shows up at a certain spot at nighttime. Eventually, the fiends drove up and shoved her parents out of the car before speeding away. Unfortunately, they were already beaten, tortured and killed. She assumes that her dad found out who her captors were before coming across a piece of torn clothing within his inside pocket, which contained a particular name: Frank Gill.
We then shift over to him (who turned out to be the suited guy behind the cable car explosion) as his tells his goons that even though they lost some men along the way, they’re still going to be a terrorizing force to Homeland Security over the next two days, while also proving their lethal effectiveness to their overseas friends. As for the woman that they know as “the Infidel”, they have an agent who’s found out where she is. From there, Issue 2 ends with the towering goon closing in on the familiar cabin on Fire Island in order to execute her.
Issue 3 opens with Jane asking Ajira why she came all the way out here in the first place. She says that Vasko was involved within the exploding tattoo parlor out in Brooklyn, as well as the attempted gassing of a subway car. Not to mention, Det. Fernandez arrived at Grand Central Station and she was able to follow her back to the hospital. Not only were there “too many coincidences” for her to ignore, but all of her resources had dried up by that point. As such, she’s spent the past year trying to fix the situation that she wound up in. Vasko then tells her that she was blackmailed into all of this and that she should’ve just asked for help, to which Ajira says that she didn’t know if she could trust her or Hiller. After apologizing for all of this, she then says that she doesn’t have any more leads and is worried that something dreadful is coming. Just as Jane says that she’ll get in contact with Maureen and see how she can help out, she’s suddenly shot twice by the muscled goon. She throws the knife into his knee and manages to disarm him, but he delivers a fierce beating upon her. Seth manages to reach the fiend’s gun and fire a few distracting shots at him, thus allowing Vasko to knock him out with a fierce kick to his face. Three hours later, he’s tied up as Ajira tries to get the name of his employer out of him, as well as his current location. However, the goon refuses to talk and gets stabbed in his side as a result. Dr. Hiller then takes Jane outside so that they can have a private conversation.
He says that despite everything that Ajira has been through, he wonders why she would suspect Vasko of any wrongdoings. Jane says that it started with those two coincidental incidents that she found herself in, thus making Ajira think that she had some legitimate leads. When Hiller then asks how her tying him up and get slapped around fits into this, Jane says that she’s just jealous of their relationship. He’s puzzled by her statement as he says that they’re just friends, to which she essentially says that hectic situations like their current one is why she doesn’t usually get romantically close to him. He then calls her out for trying to protect him and says that even though she’s able to physically heal in an abnormal rate, she’s actually protecting herself from others in order to avoid severe emotional pain. He also says that she doesn’t have to emasculate him, since he’s capable of taking care of himself. She then tells him to prove it, which he does by giving her a kiss. Over at NYPD, Maureen is with her partner Lou as she has some alcohol in order to cope with her anxiousness, due to the terrible incidents that’ve occurred over the past several weeks. She even fears that all of this were mere tests to the truly terrifying event that’s about to happen. She then gets a vital call (most likely from Vasko) that informs her about an important e-mail within her inbox as she checks it out before telling Webber to bring in their “tech freak” named Riley, since they finally have a breakthrough for their current situation. We then cut over to the entrance towards the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel at 11:45am as a goon drives up to a toll booth while he has a trigger switch over on his passenger car seat. It’s soon revealed that Det. Fernandez is undercover as an attendant as she orders the perp to place his hands on the wheel. However, he instead decides to go for the detonator as she’s forced to execute him.
Fifteen minutes later on the Empire State Building’s observation deck, Painkiller Jane is present there as she narrates about the intel that she and her allies got from the defeated “bruiser” over on Fire Island, which involved an incident occurring at her current location at noon. Because closing off the observation deck would inform the fiend that the officials are on to them, Vasko and a few officers are present as they keep a lookout. From there, a sweating guy walks out onto the observation deck as Jane spots him and chases him down. Suddenly, Lou emerges and punches the perp before subduing him. Shortly afterwards, Vasko opens his jacket to reveal that the man is a suicide bomber. As the patrons get cleared, two muscular officers named Ramos and Vitale are brought over to help her and Webber heave the guy over the safety railing and off the building. From there, the suicide bomber get thrown off and plummets towards the ground. Ultimately, he slams onto the street and lies in a bloodied mess before his bomb finally detonates. Meanwhile, the police manage to disarm another explosive that was placed within Lincoln Center without any incident. Not only that, but three other bombs (one of which was in Times Square) were also successfully disarmed. As Maureen arrives back in her office, she discovers a pair of FBI agents waiting for her. Agent Dean says that she’s gotten lots of information from a highly-wanted person named Ajira Sullivan and that they want to know where they can find her. However, Det. Fernandez refuses to cooperate for three reasons: 1. It’s rude of him to barge into her office & make himself “at home”. 2. She wouldn’t share any information with him, even if she did know. Finally, she’s never even met Ajira. She then tells them that they should actually focus on the true culprit named Frank Gill before ordering them out. As the FBI agents take their leave, Dean tells her that she still has a direct order to capture Ajira and bring her in.
Over in Brooklyn Heights, Vasko and Sullivan are scoping out a warehouse that they learned about from their would-be killer. Ajira then says that even though she hasn’t seen Frank, she assures her comrade that they’re at the right building, due to five permits being recently issued there. She even recognized some of the people that she saw pictures of from the Kuwait police and with those fiends knowing that she’s onto them, she and Jane will wait until nightfall to make their move. Vasko wonders why they don’t move in right away and finish this, to which Sullivan says that they have to outsmart them and catch them while they’re prepping to sent their shipment out via car or boat. Even when that goes down, she’s not going to call for backup. Jane then says that Maureen has informed her about their intent to arrest Ajira. As such, she’ll need to vanish for a while once they complete their mission. Vasko then tries to talk with her about their fling, to which Sullivan says that it was legitimately “intimate and exciting”, but with her own life in utter ruin, she has to focus on stopping Frank and bringing his operations to a permanent end. Jane then says that what happened between them was something special, since she hasn’t let anyone get that close to her in a long time. Because of her profession, she’s only known how “to keep moving, keep shooting” and “keep fighting” whatever terror the world has in store for her, especially since her body heals from all kinds of physical harm. However, she’s hasn’t been able to be much of “a normal person” and that she doesn’t know who she is or what she does once the action stops. Even though she deeply cares for both Seth and Maureen, her recent moment of passion with Ajira gave her a feeling that she can live for something else outside of her deadly profession. Sullivan tells her that even though she didn’t know it at first, she understands Vasko’s feelings for Seth. She especially noticed back when they had drinks over on Fire Island and she took note of Jane’s jealousy where she was close to him, even to the point of finding it flattering. As such, Ajira would love to share some drinks with her once they finish their mission. As night falls, Jane calls up Maureen and lets her know that they’re heading into Warehouse 14, regardless of whether proper backup will be available. Unbeknownst to them, the FBI agents have wiretapped the phone call (thus explaining why they were in Det. Fernandez’ office while she was out) as they make their way over to our heroines’ location. Back at police headquarters, Maureen and Lou are also about to head out to the warehouse. Meanwhile, Vasko and Sullivan are about to sneak their way in. Before they do so, Jane tells her comrade to not pursue anyone who leaves the building, since they’ll be taken care of. From there, she takes out a spray and places its contents all over herself and Ajira before assuring her that she has her “own backup in place if this goes bad”. For this kind of backup, it’s revealed to be the 22 Brides as Libby is in position with a sniper while Tweety lets their comrades know that they’re ready. Over in another position, Carrie is prepped with her sniper while Hardkiss lets her teammates know that they’re good to go. She even mentions that another teammate, Mercy, is taking her place via the riverside.
Over within the warehouse, Frank informs his devious team about their captured operative informing their enemies. Even though he moved the toxic chemicals earlier in the day, he still wants his fellow henchmen & henchwoman to load them up on trucks so that they can be delivered to their assigned destinations. Gill then mentions that the cops won’t be able to interfere, since the failed goon wasn’t informed about this location. Even still, the officials will eventually figure it all out. He then says that even if the bombs don’t reach their destinations, they’ve already sent out a wave of fear for them to hide under until they strike again in a month’s time. Meanwhile, Jane and Ajira have gotten inside the warehouse and have each discreetly taken out an opposing goon. However, they’re ultimately discovered by the fiends as a firefight proceeds to erupt. During the chats, Sullivan throws down a grenade that bounces towards Frank. However, he kicks it up into the rafters, causing it to land next to their shipments of toxic gas. As such, Vasko and Sullivan make a mad dash for the exit, while Gill manages to reach his van just before the building explodes. While Jane and Ajira are forced into the river by the shockwave and the arriving FBI agents are bummed that their evidence has now gone up in smoke, Libby manages to spot the fleeing Frank and manages to shoot him, causing him to drive into the river. Meanwhile, Vasko and Sullivan manage to reach Mercy as they climb onto the speedboat. Libby then contacts her about the wounded Gill and how he’s swimming towards them. He reaches them and asks to be helped out, in exchange for the locations of where the chemical weapons will be sent to. Ajira agrees to save him, as long as they tie him up and interrogate him. As the ladies take their leave, Jane narrates about how the FBI will be convinced that Sullivan would be dead to them, while she actually hides out with the 22 Brides for a couple of months. From there, Ajira would get all of the information she needed from Frank before she disposes him in own way. Afterwards, she would take care of every loose end before she would “get her life back on track again”. Finally, Sullivan would ask her about their relationship, to which Vasko said that she simply doesn’t know. We then shift to the next morning within the private hospital wing as Seth informs Jane that only minor scars remain of her bullet wounds and that her Healing Factor has almost erased the tattoo on her butt. He then brings up their beachside kiss before he finally works up the courage to ask her out on a date. He also asks her about Ajira, to which she says that she’s only a friend. Painkiller Jane then tells him that he has to trust her judgment, understand her needs and embrace this new part of her. If he does, then she’ll accept his dating offer. From there, Issue 3 ends with him saying that he’ll do his best and offers up where they can go for their romantic evening, to which she agrees to as they share a hug.
For the last two issues of this series, we now find her crossing paths with a legacy franchise. Just like RoboCop did before and after her, she’ll find herself going up against a near-impossible foe in “The Terminator”. While Issues 4 & 5 of her series serve as the first and third parts to this story, another Dynamite Entertainment book called “Terminator 2: Infinity” also has its last two chapters take part in this four-part tale. Specifically, that book has contributed its sixth and seventh issue to this particular event. Palmiotti is once again on writing duties, while Nigel Raynor handles the artwork and Inlight Studio takes care of the colors In a fierce story that ran from December 2007 to March 2008, how does this four-part crossover handle this time-spanning tussle between a constantly-healing vigilante and a mechanized terror from the future? Let’s hop into our own chronological displacement machine and find out while we have some “Time To Kill”.
Our story begins at the John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens as Jane is firing away at a helicopter, which is carrying a French drug lord, a few “minor local players” and loads of drugs. During her narration, she realizes that the chopper is an older model and its gas tank is located on its bottom front. She manages to shoot it and cause the helicopter to blow up. Shortly afterwards, the police show up and aim their guns at her. Thankfully, Maureen lets her fellow officers know that Vasko is working with her. With this drug-smuggling operation now brought to a fiery end, Jane shortly gets a call from Carrie. Shortly afterwards, she tells Det. Fernandez that she’ll inform her about what she’s just heard.
We then shift to 2029 in war-torn Los Angeles as a small group of resistance fighters are fighting off against some Skynet forces. A woman named Vanessa learns from a fellow soldier named Anderson that they’ve been ordered by John Connor to assist a pair of troopers over at Skynet’s main building, especially since it’s holding “some classified information”. Just then, she notices a damaged aerial Hunter-Killer plummeting right towards a fellow fighter named Guzman. Though she manages to save him from the craft’s explosion, she loses two of her fingers as a result. After they wrap some bandages on her injured hand, Anderson tells Guzman and Jones to scout ahead. From there, he shares a private moment with Vanessa before they share a kiss. After a pair of their fellow resistance fighters notice this and admire their love for each other, the group reaches the main building as Anderson learns that the only way inside is within the T-Shark-infested moat. He then places Guzman on sniper duties in order to keep the mechanized fish at bay, while also using the “sonics” in order to keep track of them. Meanwhile, Anderson, Jones and Vanessa will strip down and each carry a single weapon so that they can get inside with efficient ease. Once they get in, Anderson will contact Guzman. If he doesn’t hear anything within ten minutes, then he should head down and proceed with the mission. With Guzman in position to clear a path for his teammates, Anderson, Vanessa and Jones proceed to dive in and swim towards their destination.
Back in present-day NYC, Jane and Maureen are discussing about a recently-developed situation. It turns out that the fellow Bride Libby has been kidnapped, as Det. Fernandez tells her longtime friend that she can’t just burst in with a reckless rescue attempt. Not only that, but there’s no official confirmation that Libby is even being held within Fonti’s nightclub, which Maureen describes as “a stronghold housing more armed men” than those they’re on the police force. However, Vasko is certain that her fellow Bride is in there, since Carrie got her intel during the recent afternoon. Det. Fernandez does remind her that Joe has told her friend and the Brides to stand down for a whole day, even promising to not harm Libby if they comply. However, Jane says that she’s concerned about the “big picture” and that she should simply go in and rescue her comrade. Maureen tries to reason with her by saying that Libby doesn’t have a Healing Factor like her and she would risk getting her killed in reckless fashion. Despite all of that, Vasko simply tells her longtime friend how “the future is not set” before she drops off Det. Fernandez and heads out. Eventually, she arrives at Fonti’s club and talks to a receptionist named Luke. He assures her that she’s “outnumbered, outgunned and outplayed” with several security cameras covering the whole facility. As such, he tells her to leave and assures her that no harm will come to Libby. Jane ends up complying, especially since she narrates about how she didn’t expect so many armed men and that they made no secret about it. As she walks past a dump truck, she thinks about using it to save Libby, but she’s unable to come up with a way to use it in an effective rescue operation. As such, she decides to meet up with Maureen for drinks.
Back in the war-torn future, Anderson, Vanessa and Jones manage to blast and shoot their way into the facility. From there, they make their way towards the main generator as Anderson says that their intel has informed them to secure it, since it contains “a machine that could destroy the resistance”. They ultimately reach the central hub as they find a figure within a time displacement machine before it vanishes.
Just then, another resistance group bursts in as their leader named Price says that several Terminators are approaching before she asks for a sit-rep. Anderson proceeds to explain his group’s situation before mentioning that John Connor has informed them on what this facility is and that he’s on his way here. Suddenly, the nearby machinery lights up before Vanessa notices a compartment that’s going online. She rushes off and discovers a woman inside of it. With the time displacement machine powering up, Price discovers that it intends on sending its subject to its current location within the past. Just then, John Connor arrives with his own squad and tells his fellow resistance fighters that this machine is attempting to send two Terminators back in time and on the same mission. Price informs him about the woman that’s currently inside the machine and that she’ll be launched in two minutes, while Anderson adds onto the fact that a male was already sent back.
Suddenly, a pair of aerial Hunter-Killers burst in and attack. John tells his fellow fighters to protect the tanks while taking out the opposing crafts. Anderson then gets ordered to prevent the female Terminator from being launched. An full-on shootout pursues as Anderson tries to prevent the second time displacement launch, but he’s unable to stop the sequence. Vanessa decides to help out by shooting the console, but Connor says that they need to keep it in tact in order to follow them. A bright flash of light follows before the machine powers down, with Anderson saying that the main hard drive is damaged and possibly beyond all repair. He then informs John that the Terminators used two different machines. While the first one was intact and sent its killer robot, it wound up thousands of miles away from its intended target. Not to mention, Vanessa’s shot caused the Time Displacement Machine to malfunction and send the second Terminator twenty years later than when it was supposed to go. Despite all of that, John says that they needed it, since they’ve now lost their ability to follow after them.
Back in present day NYC, Jane and Maureen are having some drinks at the Rodeo Bar. Over in the women’s restroom, the female Terminator flashes in as Part 1 ends with her approaching Vasko and demanding for her clothes.
Part 2 opens from the perspective of the female Terminator as the narration reveals that she’s one of two killer robots that were sent back in time to slay John Connor’s mother, Sarah. Thanks to Brad Anderson and Price’s resistance groups, they manage to disrupt the devious mission. While one Terminator was prevented from reaching its scheduled arrival point, the female version was also diverted from her goal as she wound up in a different time period and location than when she was supposed to end up. She then proceeds to scan the various patrons before spotting Jane and sees that her clothes matches her frame. As such, she heads over to her and demands for her outfit.
Maureen tries to drape her trench coat over her, but she hits Det. Fernandez across the room before she picks up Jane and once again demands for her clothes. Vasko does kick her off before lunging at her, but the female Terminator simply throws her through the window before she takes her leather jacket. Maureen then shoots her in the head, but the Terminator easily resists it before escaping. Fernandez is shocked that their foe has withstood a headshot before she helps Vasko up and dash off after their target.
Back in the war-torn future, the resistance is standing guard over the building while they send one of their own back in time to protect Sarah, which just so happens to be Kyle Reese. Afterwards, Vanessa tells her husband Brad that she finds it perplexing why they should work with the machines and not just simply destroy them, to which Connor says that machinery in its purest form isn’t their enemy and that mankind is capable of living with it. However, he’s opposed to the human race collectively deciding to stop thinking and leave all of that to the machines, since “that’s when it all goes bad”. From a weakened thought process to a heightened dependency, it turns into an unfathomable level where the machines decide that the humans aren’t needed anymore. Vanessa then wonders how their interference will impact them, to which Brad tells her that they just don’t know the outcome.
Back in present day NYC, the female Terminator reaches a costume shop and smashes her way in. By the time that Vasko and Fernandez reach the emporium, the Terminator had already stolen some clothes. As they examine the damage, Jane notices that the store gate wasn’t taken off via any available weapon as she and Maureen begin to ponder about what they’re up against. Meanwhile, the female Terminator has broken into an apartment and beaten up a family man before she demands to know what year she’s in, what their current location is and what mode of transportation do they have. The daughter informs her that it’s 2008, that they’re in New York City and that they don’t have a car. The Terminator then kills the dad before she assaults the daughter for retaliating. From there, she reaches a laptop and tells the remaining family members that she’ll kill anyone that makes a single noise. The mother whispers to her son Justin to be quiet, but this still agitates the murderous machine.
We then shift back to two minutes earlier as Det. Fernandez informs Vasko that the police have a whole half-block radius blocked off. She also mentions that after checking up with every single taxi company’s dispatcher, it’s most likely that their subject is within striking distance and that it shouldn’t be long before they find her. As if on cue, the murdered mother lands onto their car. With every official now aware of where their suspect is located, Maureen tells her fellow officers to surround the whole building and cover every possible exit. She then orders for two teams (with her on one of them) and that they’ll check every single room, starting on the top floor and working their way down. She then tells Jane to stand down for now and let her & her squad deal with this. From there, they head in and begin their sweep. Meanwhile, the Terminator is scanning the internet for Sarah Connor’s location before the police finally reach her. While Maureen and her fellow officers are in the middle of their apartment sweep, Jane has a casual conversation with a cop named Frank about what he would do if he was about to be swarmed en masses by several cops. Meanwhile, the officials are about to enter the apartment. Suddenly, the Terminator bursts out and begins to viciously attack them.
Vasko hears the gunshots from outside and decides to head in. Maureen leads her team towards the target floor, but are taken aback by a cop’s mutilated body. Jane then meets up as they see the brutalized officer before she and Det. Fernandez have a grim realization of what kind of foe they’re up against. As such, Maureen gives Vasko her gun before she orders her fellow officials to evacuate the building and contact the EMS. From there, Jane makes her way to the 13th floor as she finds it covered in blood. She then finds a badly-wounded officer named Noble who’s barely alive and calls for a medic. She then comforts the official, but it’s not too long before the severe injuries do him in. Up on the roof, the Terminator is holding a mutilated cop’s body while a nearby police helicopter spots her and reports on the gruesome carnage that’s unfolded. From there, she’s approached by Painkiller Jane who opens fire on her before concluding Part 2 by tackling her off the building.
Part 3 begins with Jane and the Terminator smashing into a building. As her narration recaps everything that’s happened thus far, she feels disoriented before the killer robot tries to strangle her with a lamp. Thankfully, Det. Fernandez is able to successfully distract the mechanized fiend with some gunshots. However, she responds by throwing the lamp over to the apartment as it gets impaled onto a wall. Maureen then yells at her to leave Vasko alone or else, but the Terminator simply picks up some of Jane’s blood with her fingers and licks it. However, the scene ends with her making a sudden realization.
Back in the war-torn future, John ponders on whether or not they should send someone back in time in order to pursue the female Terminator. While Vanessa says that they know how the mechanized killers operate, Brad says that it’s suicidal since they wouldn’t know if they would have the necessary technology to fight back. Connor says that they’re both right, but they still have the coordinates and that they could send someone after it. Vanessa then offers to be sent back in time, but John isn’t willing to let her go since she’s been an important figure in their fight against Skynet. She assures him that they have all of the support they need, especially since she’s tired of being carefully protected and wants to move on. However, Connor is still unconvinced as even Brad tries to convince her against it by telling her “to look at the bigger picture” and see what’s best for the resistance. Vanessa then says that it’s for the best that she heads back and stops the female Terminator, since she’s “the perfect candidate” and that they have plenty of her blood to look after. Just then, John informs her and Brad that their lab has been compromised by Skynet and that their data & files are now within the mechanized mainframe. As such, the machines are now fully-aware of her and have made her their top termination subject.
Meanwhile, another female Terminator arrives via time displacement and catches a resistance soldier named Pushillo off-guard before demanding to know who’s inside the main building. He refuses to talk, so she kills him with some retractable blades before she acquires his walkie-talkie and tries to communicate with his voice as she asks for the whereabouts of Connor or “Vasko”. Thankfully, the resistance knows better than to use their actual names as John ultimately learns that the machines are going to close in on the building. As such, the female Terminator gets some clothes and weapons before she’s joined by her fellow Terminators as they prepare to storm the facility.
Back in present-day NYC, Maureen tells her fellow officers to stand guard over every single exit from the apartment and to also get the civilians cleared from the street. Meanwhile, the female Terminator looks over Jane’s unconscious body, having realized that she’s a genetic match to Vanessa Vasko and prepares to kill her. Suddenly, she’s approached by Det. Fernandez and several armed officials as they proceed to open fire on her. After she withstands the bullet barrage, they finally see most of her mechanized skull underneath her synthetic skin.
Vasko then manages to wake up before she lifts the Terminator’s leg up and causes it to fall onto the street. Both ladies share their shocked discovery that their foe is a robot before Maureen tells her fellow officers to shoot at their target. However, their gunfire is unable to do any severe damage. As our main ladies make their way downstairs, they learn that the Terminator has taken out several more officials, stole a revolver and went back into the apartment. From there, it makes its way into the basement where it proceeds to take out the building’s power. It then uses the darkness to its advantage and shoots the approaching cops. Det. Fernandez knows that if they go down there, then they won’t survive. As such, Jane says that she stands a better chance against it as she acquires a gun and a flashlight. Afterwards, she then gives Maureen a kiss before she heads down.
Just as she passes an apartment room, the Terminator emerges and attacks her. A vicious fight ensues as Det. Fernandez ultimately decides that she can’t stand by and do nothing. As such, she tells her officers to not let anyone out while she heads down to the basement. By the time that she gets there however, Part 3 ends with the Terminator nowhere in sight and Vasko lying bloodied, beaten & within an inch of her life.
Part 4 opens with Maureen riding in an ambulance alongside Jane, whose body is within a body bag following her beatdown at the hands of the Terminator. She narrates that it snapped Vasko’s neck before it escaped to murder another civilian over on 48th Street while continuing its northward rampage. As the Terminator makes its way towards Central Park, Det. Ferandez is shocked that her longtime friend has finally met her grisly end. We then shift to the war-torn future as the resistance attempts to fend off Skynet’s overwhelming armada of Terminators. Back inside the building, the rest of the soldiers prepare to send Vanessa back in time. She says that it would be absolutely refreshing to breathe in some fresh air before telling her husband that they could’ve had more time.
Back in present day NYC, Seth is in the morgue as he examines Jane’s body with Maureen looking over him. He discovers that Vasko only has a broken neck, but there’s no bruises whatsoever. While they’re fully-aware of her Healing Factor, he’s puzzled as to why her epidermis would continually repair itself even though her heart has stopped. He then examines her eyes and doesn’t notice any broken blood vessels. Suddenly, he sees that they’re reacting to the light before he hears her heart beating at a slow pace. From there, he and Det. Fernandez get the surprise of their life as Vasko suddenly twitches off of the table. From there, they get her under control as she relaxes within her longtime friend’s arms. Two hours later, Jane is in a regular hospital bed as she describes what it was like being dead for a short moment. Maureen then tells her friend that during this brief moment, Dr. Hiller was an emotional wreak and Joe Fonti himself even called up Det. Fernandez to ask about her. She then says that their mechanized killer is hiding out in Central Park, which motivates Vasko to get dressed and head back into action. Maureen tries to convince her to rest up, but Jane says that she’s “alive & feisty as ever” and that she won’t sit around on her chance to get some payback. Ultimately, Det. Fernandez relents and offers to drive. Over on the north end of Central Park, some patrons are out for a walk before their dog Eddy starts barking at something within the Huddlestone Arch. It manages to break free and dashes inside, but it suddenly yelps in terror as its owner Juan decides to go after the fiend, even though his friends have already fled. Ultimately, he gets his head ripped off as the Terminator emerges and proceeds to kill the woman.
Back in the war-torn future, Vanessa has stripped down to her birthday suit as John tells her that they must proceed with their mission. Brad assures her that she’s doing the right thing by tracking down the mechanized killer, to which she agrees since she would only be pursued by Skynet if she stayed. He then promises to look after their son Dean before she steps into the Time Displacement Machine and gets sent back in time. Afterwards, Connor overlooks the battlefield right outside as he tells Brad to take some men and head out to protect his child. However, he says that he’s just lost his wife and that he’s going to take this fight to Skynet’s robot armada. From there, he and John proceed to charge into battle. Meanwhile, Vanessa arrives in an NYC clothing store and manages to swipe several articles in order to dress herself. She’s then approached by a guard and is about to arrest her, but she’s able to take him out with one punch before taking his firearm.
From there, she catches a newscast about the cops swarming in on Central Park. Meanwhile, Jane and Maureen get informed by a fellow cop about what’s just happened. Afterwards, Det. Fernandez says that she’s in need of some heavy artillery. From there, she and Vasko are brought over to Rhodes who proceeds to provide them with some high-end weapons. After they acquire some powerful guns and some body armor, they proceed to enter the park before they arrive at a picturesque waterfall and pond, especially since they assume that it’s where their foe would be hiding out until it gets dark. Just then, Jane feels a little weary due to her body trying to fully-recover from her deadly experience. Shortly afterwards, Maureen gets contacted by a fellow officer about a woman stealing a police helicopter and making her way over to the park. As the female Terminator slowly approaches our main ladies, Vanessa has flown out to their area and sees her mechanized foe getting ready to strike.
From there, the robotic fiend emerges from the water as Vasko and Det. Fernandez open fire on her. However, she withstands their shotgun blasts before she throws Maureen into the pond. Ultimately, Jane runs out of shells and manages to hit the Terminator into the pond. However, it recovers and proceeds to chase after her. Suddenly, Vanessa flies in and jumps out of the helicopter before it crashes into the Terminator and explodes.
Vasko reaches her and receives a hug, learning that she knows her name in the process. Just as Maureen rejoins them, the Terminator begins to emerge from the wreckage without any synthetic skin at all. Vanessa then quickly explains how it and herself came about in the first place before she also hugs Det. Fernandez. She then tells her and Jane to get out since their robotic fiend has a self-destruct key, but she has to destroy it and save her in order to preserve her eventual existence. She then says that it was intended to go after someone else, but it recognized another threat and decided to pursue that instead. After confirming that she’s her daughter, she then tells Vasko that she doesn’t expect her or Maureen to believe her, but they must retreat. As such, our main ladies take their leave while Vanessa sacrifices herself by going up against the Terminator as both go out in a fiery explosion. From there, they ponder about her before Jane says that she does see technology potentially going down a similar path, but she doesn’t entirely believe the whole “daughter stuff”. Even still, Det. Fernandez did find a similar trait that Vanessa had with her longtime friend in that they’re both “suicidal”. From there, the story ends with Vasko finding their conversation ever-so loopy and decides that they should go have some drinks.
Finally, let’s take a look at one last comic for this section. This time, Image Comics has teamed up with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to bring up an anthology book called Liberty Comics. Within this second issue, Painkiller Jane has a short story where Palmiotti once again gets to be in the writer’s chair. Meanwhile, Jim Rugg gets to handle the artwork while Dan Jackson takes care of his coloring duties. So, what kind of quickie tale do these guys have in store? Let’s speak up and find out with this four-page story called “Explosive!”.
We open upon a newscast as a reporter named Lacy Gibson is covering a holdup at a local elementary school between the police and armed thugs. While the goons have demanded a ransom, the children were allowed to flee from the building. From there, Jane took it upon herself to head inside and deliver the ransom. Just then, a massive explosion rockets from the building as Vasko crashes into a hot dog stand before she decides to eat some of its contents. From there, the terrorists emerge and attempt to shoot their way to freedom. Jane manages to recover before she jumps in and easily takes both of them down. However, she receives some friendly fire into her butt for her trouble. Afterwards, Lacy tells her cameraman that Vasko is “a walking disaster” and that the city would be better off arresting her. However, Jane heard that as she approaches her before demanding her to say whatever’s on her mind right to her face. From there, Gibson proceeds to call her many things: 1. a “despicable, foul-mouthed menace to society”, 2. “a wretched human being with no consideration” to anyone around her & 3. she’s worse than than the criminals that she exterminates. Lacy then concludes her rant by saying that if it was up to her and if she was the mayor, then she would have a Special Task Squad hunt Vasko down, capture her and place her in jail for the rest of her life. And so, the story ends as Jane replies by simply kissing her and walking off while telling her that it’s fine with her, since Gibson (just like everyone else) is entitled to their opinion.
Before I close, I would like to briefly mention that it was during this time frame that Painkiller Jane did venture outside of comics and onto the small screen. In 2005, the character did get a TV movie on the Syfy Channel as Emmanuelle Vaugier portrayed her. However, it was very loosely based on the source material, especially since her character name was Capt. Jane Elizabeth Browning. Later on, she would get her own TV show in 2007 as the T-X herself, Kristanna Loken, portrayed her for 22 episodes on the Syfy Channel, where it ultimately ran from April 13 to September 21. As for any further attempt at getting the character on the big screen, it was reported around 2015 & 2016 that a movie was in the works and that Jessica Chastain would portray her. As of this retrospective however, there’s hardly been any further movement on that front.
Overall, the Dynamite era presented some interesting character progressions for Painkiller Jane and her cast of characters. First off, it does a nice job in presenting a clearer status for Vasko’s sexuality. Throughout her time in Event Comics, Dr. Seth Hiller’s romantic sparks for her were there and she does appreciate him for his unrelenting care & for constantly patching her up due to the somewhat slow nature of her Healing Factor. Here, she does start to warm up to him during Volume 2 before she has him confirm his love for her over in Volume 3. Their banter is witty, yet they continue to be respectful enough to maintain their respectful partnership throughout their adventures. As for Jane, her confirmed status as a bi-sexual doesn’t come around until her initial trip to Fire Island. Though she didn’t know that Ajira had thought that she worked for Frank Gill in the slaying of her parents, Sullivan’s kind-hearted introduction to her is what set the spark towards giving Vasko a sexual awakening of sorts. Yes, they have a misunderstanding when Jane kept finding herself against fiends that’re somewhat connected to Frank, especially since Ajira was also hunting them down and it got physically rough between the two ladies before Sullivan’s explanation finally came along. Thankfully, their partnership led to absolute respect towards each other as Jane appreciates her for helping her discover an acceptive part of her own self that she never experienced before. Not to mention, it allowed her & Ajira to open themselves up and become comfortable outside of their hardened, assassin-like selves for one tender moment. As such, by the time we reached Vasko’s four-part crossover with the Terminator, her surprise kiss of her longtime police partner Maureen shows how comfortable she’s become with this side of herself. As for Det. Maureen Fernandez herself, she does gets more to do and even gets her occasional partner in Lou Webber. For the most part, this family-man does what he can in helping her with their police work. Getting back to Fernandez, she continues to be helpfully informative towards Jane while also avoiding any kind of authoritative nonsense that would’ve forced her to go after Vasko, regardless of official ranking. Sure, Jane was briefly a wanted fugitive in Volume 2 due to a frame-up job by Bruce Fitzgerald and Maureen’s force was tasked with taking her down, but she maintains a level-headedness that allows her to rise above the cliched nonsense and allows her to be as likable as possible. She also has her share of emotional moments, ranging from being somewhat annoyed of Vasko’s snark & attitude to getting tearful when it comes to either the confession of her conversation with Ada Fitzgerald to being fearful of Jane’s near-fatal position following a severe beatdown at the mechanized hands of the Terminator. At her best though, she’s still tough when she needs to be and will do her job as best as she can. Before I finish my thoughts about her, I would like to point out that she went from being a red-head over in Event Comics to being blonde for these books. Maybe it was to help differentiate her from Painkiller Jane for the readers, since Vasko has always been red-headed. By the time we get to the Terminator crossover, Maureen is mainly blonde throughout, though there is some steadily-growing redness within her flowing mane depending on the time of day and how far one gets into the four-parter. Either way, it’s just an artistic observation that I noticed. Getting back to Maureen, she saw much developmental growth throughout the 2000s just like her friend Jane. Both ladies saw some solidified details added to their characterizations and proved that no matter how much Vasko is rough-and-tumble with her approach to crime-fighting as opposed to Det. Fernandez mainly handling things by the book, their longtime friendship has endured a lot since their police academy days and they’ve become likable characters in their own way. As such, they help make these stories become even more engaging, which are already packed with neat artwork, thrilling action, slick pacing and stories that keep the readers involved from beginning to end. Well, there’s one more chapter of Painkiller Jane’s history that must be combed over and it involves her 2010s ventures with two more publishing companies. As such, keep your guns at the ready as we venture into this retrospective’s ultimate conclusion!
Painkiller Jane (created by Jimmy Palmiotti & Joe Quesada) is owned by PaperFilms.