I’m Having Trouble Understanding Jane

I recently bought the complete Grant Morrison run of Doom Patrol in trades and finished re-reading them all list night. I love the series, and am glad I got into it when I did, as it helped keep me from wasting time with most other superhero comics.

But man, Crazy Jane…she is something of a problem, no? Sexually abused as a child, raped as a young woman. Her superpower is, literally, “Bitch crazy”. She has no identity outside of that. Everything she does and says is more or less borne out of her abuse. She shows her underwear a lot. The first time she can’t deal with things and goes catatonic, a man goes in to save her, who becomes her protector through the series. Ultimately she is helped by realizing that she essentially just needs to “get over” the rape and abuse. When she does so, she loses her powers.

Even by early-90s comics standards that’s something else.

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4 Responses to I’m Having Trouble Understanding Jane

  1. zhu wuneng says:

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RapeIsTheNewDeadParents

    Grant Morrison could have a horribly problematic character like this in every title he writes though, and still be one of the less sexist people in the comics world.

  2. Dave says:

    Oh, I agree, Zhu. Honestly, Morrison’s record elsewhere is why the Jane situation bugs me so much. He usually is much more thoughtful about these things. I still think he’s miles ahead of most writers, and I still adore the Doom Patrol work, but this is something that really jumped out at me this time and I hadn’t noticed before.

  3. demoncat says:

    crazy Jane showed that Grant was willing to deal with dark subjects like rape and sexual abuse not to mention she adds to his doom patrol run being one roller coaster ride on acid

  4. Hmm… I can see where the problem is – there are a couple of elements there that reflect issues we see elsewhere all the time – but the thing is…

    If Jane’s unique selling point – and it is, isn’t it? – that she’s got MPD, then from what little I know about it, Morrison’s read on the character is more realistic and likely than pretty much any other read on the condition in comics or other entertainment that isn’t intended as documentary. MPD is quite often present in people who’ve been abused or otherwise traumatised, and is there any other way to get past a trauma than to, well, get past it?

    It even makes sense that Jane sometimes dressed in her underwear – if her psyche fragmented as a coping mechanism, & one of the things her everyday persona couldn’t handle was sexuality, those elements would probably come out in more aggressive or distinct ways in character behaviour. Ann Nocenti covered similar ground at around the same time with Typhoid Mary, though as yet I don’t think that character has been allowed any real recovery.

    The only thing that’s a bit sketchy is that it had to be a MAN that bonded with her, but I guess specifically making the person she bonded with a woman would be just as much a political act as making her a man. He wasn’t a REAL man, anyway. He was made of tin.