Jean Loring is a fictional character in comic books published by DC Comics, primarily associated with superhero the Atom for whom she is 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 which shifted her position in the DC Universe, after 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.
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 short years, they were happy – then Ray’s adventurous life began taking its toll on their marriage and they divorced.
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.
Recently, Jean suffered a mental breakdown as revealed in the controversial Identity Crisis miniseries (while her breakdown could conceivably be a relapse to her Jimberen-induced state of years before, this has yet to be suggested on-panel, and it is unclear if the Jimberen/Jest-Master period is even part of current DC continuity). 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. Unbeknowst to even Ralph himself, Sue had been pregnant.
In an attempt to divert suspicion away from herself, Jean fakes an attack on her own life by tying up 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 concludes that Boomerang was so useless that Jack would be perfectly safe. Unfortunately, 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; Batman had removed the note before the reporters had even arrived. Ray subsequently has to have her institutionalized at Arkham Asylum.
Thanks to Eclipso's actions, the Spectre went on a mass-murdering rampage, killing over 700 magicians. With all their lives in danger, a group of mystics banded together, forming the Shadowpact. Planning on stopping the Spectre, they recruited Black Alice, a girl who had the ability to steal a person's magical powers for a short amount of time (leaving the being powerless in the process).
The Shadowpact plotted to use Black Alice's power to strip the Spectre of his own, leaving him defenseless. Then, in the window of time left open, the Shadowpact would kill the Spectre and defeat Eclipso before the two could complete their war on magic. However the plan hit a snag, as without his powers the Spectre was nothing but an empty spirit, leaving him unharmable.
During her brief possession of the Spectre's powers, Black Alice used 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 continued to wreak havoc and ended up killing the ancient wizard Shazam. After the Spectre killed Nabu, the last and most powerful of the Lords of Order, the Presence's attention was finally drawn to him, and the Spectre was once again forced into a human host, finally stopping his mad rampage.
In Countdown To Mystery, Eclipso, under the direction of Darkseid, attempts to corrupt other Superheroes, starting with Plastic Man and The Creeper. In #4, following Mary and Eclipso's battle, the black diamond abandons Jean and once again chooses Bruce Gordon as a host. Jean is shown falling into the ocean near Themiscyra but does not wash upon shore like Mary. A shark is shown heading towards her, but Jean's ultimate fate is as of yet unknown.