Four girls – Jane, Jane, Jayne, and Polly Jane – all refer to themselves at the P.L.A.I.N Janes; P.L.A.I.N stands for People Loving Art in Neighborhoods. They complete “art attacks,” placing dozens of gnomes on the police department lawn and hanging messages in bottles hung from a tree instructing people to sing, but their antics are viewed as vandalism by the town authorities and, especially, one of the Jane’s moms.
While I really liked the main Jane, who moves to the suburbs after a bomb blast in Metro City instills fear in her parents, the rest of the Janes are quite one-dimensional and slapped with labels they just can’t shake. Brainy Jayne participates in the art because of the fact that it coincides with her interest in physics, theatrical Jane has nothing better to do since the drama department is run by the popular girls, and sporty Polly Jane only helps because main Jane promises that she’ll get her off the bench. The girls are stereotyped, and the social structure of the school seems completely off because once you “burn” and turn down the popular girls, they don’t offer their “friendship” again and again.
There’s a nice message about fear, especially fear of things you don’t understand, but that and the drawings are the only things that carry this graphic novel. The Plain Janes struggles with the idea of believability, and worst of all it ends abruptly without any form of resolution. The minor story line of the John Doe that main Jane adopts after the blast is underdeveloped, lacking any hint of substance, and desperately calls to either be left alone or explored in some other manner.
- Castellucci, Cecil, and Jim Rugg. The Plain Janes. New York, NY: DC Comics, 2007. Print. 176 pgs. ISBN: 9781401211158. Source: Library.