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Jean Loring with Ray Palmer. Art by Gil Kane.
|First appearance||Showcase # 34
|Created by||Gardner Fox
|Team affiliations||Black Lantern Corps|
Jean Loring is a fictional character in comic books published by DC Comics, formerly associated with superhero the Atom for whom she was a supporting character and primary love interest. She first appeared in Showcase #34 (September–October 1961), created by Gardner Fox and Gil Kane. The character appeared continually in minor roles until the 2004 storyline Identity Crisis, in which she suffered a mental breakdown and murdered Sue Dibny, wife of the Elongated Man. This would later lead Loring to assume the mantle of the supervillain Eclipso.
Fictional character biography
Jean Loring's career as an attorney in Ivy Town began at almost the same time that her boyfriend, Ray Palmer, became the Atom. Jean encountered the Atom who often helped in her cases many times before learning that he and Ray were the same person.
In Atom and Hawkman #45 (October–November 1969), Jean was abducted and driven insane by the sub-atomic Jimberen race. Although quickly freed from the Jimberen by the Atom and Hawkman, Jean remained insane until Justice League of America (vol. 1) #81 (June 1970), when she was cured by the equally insane alien Jest-Master.
After Jean was kidnapped by T.O. Morrow, Ray went into an interdimensional search to retrieve her, asking for help from Flash, Supergirl and Wonder Woman. This event would direly affect Jean, but it would also lead to their marriage. For a few years, they were happy – then Ray’s adventurous life began taking its toll on their marriage and they divorced, supposedly after Jean had an affair with another man, and Ray found them.
Despite the occasional high-profile case, notably her one-time defense of the Justice League of America in Justice League of America (vol. 1) #77 (December 1969), Jean did not truly come to national prominence until the divorce. Jean soon re-married and with her new husband, Paul Hoben, opened up a law office in Calvin City. She eventually returned to Ivy Town without him and established the firm of Grabemann, Loring and Ross. In general, Jean was not involved in criminal law anymore and attended to more mundane matters such as the administration of the estates of Carter Hall and David Clinton. She made exceptions, though, as in her defense of Risk of the Teen Titans.
Jean suffered a mental breakdown as revealed in the 2004 miniseries Identity Crisis. Wanting to resume her relationship with Ray, she comes to believe that the surest way to do this would be to endanger another loved one of a hero, sending all of the superheroes running back to their spouses and other relatives (including Ray). Using one of Ray's old costumes, she shrinks herself and enters the brain of Sue Dibny (the Elongated Man's wife). She attempts to cause a minor stroke but accidentally applies too much pressure to Dibny's brain, killing her. Panicking, and unwilling to go to jail, she uses a flamethrower to badly burn Sue's body and departs. Unbeknownst to even Sue's husband Ralph, Sue had been pregnant.
In an attempt to divert suspicion away from herself, Jean fakes an attack on her own life by tying up blindfolding and gagging herself, and then make it seem like she is about to be hanged. She sets up Captain Boomerang to attack Jack Drake, the father of Tim Drake, the third Robin. Loring has a gun left for Drake so he would be able to kill Boomerang in self-defense, leading everyone to believe that Boomerang had been the killer; she had hired a cheap killer on the grounds that someone cheap would be so useless against a prepared target that Jack would only have to pull the trigger and he would be perfectly safe. Both men kill each other, leaving Tim an orphan.
As she had originally planned, during all the trauma, Ray returns to her. However, she accidentally gives herself away by asking about the "Protect Yourself" note that had been sent to Jack Drake, something that only the killer would have known, and which Batman had removed before reporters had arrived. Ray subsequently has her institutionalized at Arkham Asylum after hearing her explanation.
Later, Green Arrow tells the Flash that Black Canary had visited Jean in the Asylum, and reported that Jean was so drugged that she kept fiddling with her hospital bracelet, calling it a wedding band.
While she is institutionalized, the supernatural entity known as Eclipso (aided by the actions of the Psycho-Pirate and Alexander Luthor of the former Earth-3) manipulates Jean into becoming his new host so she could seduce the Spectre into destroying all of the magical beings in the DC universe (see Day of Vengeance).
Thanks to Eclipso's actions, the Spectre goes on a mass-murdering rampage, killing over 700 magicians. With all their lives in danger, a group of mystics band together, forming the Shadowpact. They recruited Black Alice, a girl who has the ability to steal a person's magical powers for a short amount of time, leaving the being powerless in the process. The Shadowpact uses Black Alice's power to strip the Spectre of his own, leaving him defenseless. They then attempt to kill the Spectre while he is powerless. The plan hits a snag, as without his powers the Spectre is nothing but an empty spirit, leaving him unharmable.
During her brief possession of the Spectre's powers, Black Alice uses them to help fellow Shadowpact member Nightshade send Eclipso into a perpetual orbit around the sun, weakening Eclipso's powers. However, Eclipso's incapacitation did not help the Shadowpact with the Spectre, who continues to wreak havoc and ends up killing the ancient wizard Shazam.
After the Spectre kills Nabu, the last and most powerful of the Lords of Order, the Presence's attention is finally drawn to him, and the Spectre is forced into a human host, finally stopping his mad rampage.
In Week Twenty-Seven of 52, Ralph Dibny approaches the Spectre as part of his quest to restore his wife Sue to life, promising to fulfil any bargain demanded of him in order to accomplish this. The Spectre, desiring revenge on Eclipso, but rendered incapable of taking it owing to his then-lack of a host (the Spectre had given Crispus a year to be by himself before he became his new host), orders Dibny to punish Eclipso in return for his wife's life; Dibny, temporarily granted the power of the Spectre, takes Eclipso back to the point at which she (as Jean Loring) murdered his wife and, restoring Jean's sanity, intends to trap her in a permanent time loop and force her to watch herself murder Sue Dibny over and over for all eternity. But the now-sane Loring tearfully begs for forgiveness and Dibny, affected by her pleas, his sense of compassion and his own feelings on watching his wife's death, finds himself incapable of completing his pact with the Spectre. He thus returns Eclipso to her orbit around the sun.
Blue Beetle #16 shows Eclipso kidnapping a baby with huge raw magical abilities and attempting to corrupt it into a new host for herself. The combined efforts of Blue Beetle and Traci Thirteen foils her plans, steering her attentions toward Mary Marvel herself.
In Countdown to Final Crisis Eclipso tries to corrupt Mary. Feeding the young girl mistrust and lies, Jean manages to sway Mary from the side of the heroes, corrupting the young girl into her follower. Mary Marvel rebels, and refusing to be given to Darkseid as a concubine, strips Eclipso of her black diamond and blast herself unconscious and powerless in space, fleeing away. Eclipso retrieves the diamond and attempts to kill Mary, only to find that she is too strong for her. During the battle, Mary calls down the magic lightning bolt, removing Eclipso's power from Jean. In Countdown to Mystery #4, following Mary and Eclipso's battle, the black diamond chooses Bruce Gordon as a host. Jean is shown falling into the ocean near Themiscyra and a shark is seen approaching her.
In Green Lantern #43, it is confirmed by Black Hand that Jean Loring had died, since he can hear the voice of Death, which is later revealed to be Nekron, the "black personification" of it. In the Blackest Night storyline, on the night of the superhero's memorial day, her widower, Ray asks Hawkman to visit her grave to be honored as a fallen member of the community, but Hawkman refuses because of what she did in Identity Crisis.
Jean is reanimated (off-panel) as a member of the Black Lantern Corps, wearing a costume based on her Eclipso persona. She kills Damage from behind, ripping out his heart as Ray stares in shock. This final kill helps the Black Rings reach a power level of one hundred percent, thus bringing about the rise of Nekron. Jean then uses Ray's own technology to shrink him, Mera and herself into the reanimated Damage's ring. While inside the ring, she relates to Ray and Mera Nekron's origins: that he is the guardian of the darkness that existed before the light entered the universe. Jean is then possessed by Deadman, who had followed the trio into the ring, who forces her to release Ray and Mera, allowing them to return to normal size.
Jean then confronts Ray, who has recently been deputised into the Indigo Tribe, tormenting him with a recreation of her murder of Sue Dibny, and summoning Black Lantern versions of the minuscule tribe Ray had befriended in the Sword of the Atom series to attack him. However, Ray manages to fight back, using his indigo staff to combine the green light of willpower with the indigo light of compassion, using them to destroy Jean and her ring.
- Jean Loring makes an appearance in Alex Ross' Justice. She called her husband Ray Palmer when he was shot by Giganta. She sat by his side in the hospital. She is among the sidekicks and loved ones attacked by the Legion of Doom.
In other media
Jean Loring is portrayed by Teryl Rothery in season two of The CW's Arrow. She is a defence attorney working in Starling City and is a friend and lawyer to Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), who is on trial for conspiracy to mass murder of 503 people that died in Malcolm Merlyn's Undertaking.
- Green Lantern (vol. 4) #43 (July 2009)
- Blackest Night #1 (July 2009)
- Blackest Night #4 (October 2009)
- Blackest Night #5 (November 2009)
- Green Lantern (vol. 4) #49 (December 2009)
- Blackest Night #6 (December 2009)
- The Atom and Hawkman #46 (January 2010)