Castellucci, Cecil & Jim Rugg. Janes in Love.

NY: DC Comics, 2008.

This is the sequel to Plain Janes — though it doesn’t actually say that anywhere, and if you pick it up thinking it’s a standalone graphic novel, you will have no idea what’s going on. As background, Jane Beckles is a high school student transplanted from the big city to a small suburban town following the detonation of a terrorist bomb that put her in the hospital for awhile. Now she’s running a girl gang that creates public art projects at night, which the town’s cops and managers treat as vandalism.

The gang includes another Jane who is heavily into science, Jayne the theater geek, and Polly Jane the athlete. Oh, and James, apparently the only gay student at Buzz Aldrin High, who is very frustrated when Valentine’s Day rolls around.

Because that’s one of the themes this time: The search by each of the Janes for the right boyfriend. Jane the leader is big on Damon, who took the rap for her when a previous art prank was busted and who is still doing community service. Polly Jane tells a basketball player he is now her boyfriend and they’re going to go make out (his response is “Yeah!”), and the other two have their sights on guys of their own. That part is rather weak, if only because their various choices are all extremely politically correct, and in a way that seems to be deliberately playing to the teen audience by a self-consciously adult author. The other plotline, of course, is the quest for legitimacy for their art, which Jane manages by getting a federal grant, the first ever given to someone her age. (And which isn’t even close to realistic.) Will there be a happy ending? What do you think?

The writing itself isn’t bad, though the plotting isn’t what it was in the first volume. Rugg’s art suits the story well, though. The flap copy calls this the second in a “series,” suggesting there are more volumes to come — but I honestly can’t imagine where the story could go from here.


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