Thursday, November 12, 2015

Reader's Diary #1212- Brian Bendis (Writer), various artists: Jessica Jones, the Pulse

I had slight reservations about Jessica Jones' The Pulse (Complete Collection).  Mostly I was looking forward to it. I've enjoyed other work by Brian Bendis, I knew little about Jessica Jones and love learning about new Marvel characters, and mostly I'm just stoked for the new Netflix series. (After watching how great Daredevil was I have high hopes!) But, when I found out the premise...

The Pulse, it turns out, is supposed to be a feature of the fictional newspaper, The Daily Bugle (yes, the one from Spider-Man). Jessica Jones gets hired as a reporter to cover the Pulse with its focus on superheroes. As Jones herself is an ex-Avenger, J. Jonah Jameson expects she'll bring both insight and intel to paper.

So far nothing to worry about, might even be interesting. But then I discover it's supposed to be the street view of Secret War, a much larger comic book event a few years back, not to be confused with Secret Wars, an storyline from the 80s, or Secret Wars, a storyline from the past summer because Marvel absolutely sucks at naming things. Anyway, Secret War (2004) culminates with an Avengers vs. X-Men smackdown. Could be good.

Except, I read World War Hulk Front Line earlier this year and it had remarkably similar idea. Instead of showing an exciting superhero war, it aimed to show the affects of the superhero war on the muggles, er... regular folks. It sucked. It was boring and didn't work as a standalone volume at all. So enter my aforementioned slight reservations.

Well, I needn't have worried too much. Jessica Jones isn't a boring old muggle... geez, why I keep doing that?... what I mean to say is Jones isn't an ordinary human and can quite hold a story on her own. True, there wasn't even a hint of the Avenger/X-Men battle, but Jones' fights a good fight when she needs to. Especially great was the punch she landed on the Green Goblin.

If I'm being honest though, the humanity (the non-superhero-ity?) actually works as well. Yes, Jones has superpowers, but it's dealing with common concerns like being pregnant that balance out the silliness and give the book something different, something compelling. The plethora of cameos (Wolverine, Spider-Man, Captain America, and more) don't hurt either.

None of this is to say the book is perfect, it's just better than the Front Line book. It still has issues. J. Jonah Jameson hires Jessica Jones to work at the Bugle and she never seems to do anything for them. The only Pulse stories actually revolve around Ben Ulrich, another reporter (also from Front Line and the Netflix Daredevil series), but whereas his plots and Jones intersect in the earlier part of the book, by the end Ulrich's stories seem completely unconnected. His discovery of another washed up B-Superhero, "D-Man", is interesting, I suppose, but why it was necessary in a Jessica Jones collection? I have no idea.

The artwork is wildly inconsistent. Everyone gets what J. Jonah Jameson is supposed to look like, but holy crap, you could hardly recognize Jessica Jones or her husband Luke Cage from one panel to the next.

The standout artist in the whole collection for me was Michael Gaydos whose grainy artwork gave the whole thing a slightly-off, pulp fiction sort of vibe. Like an out-of-tune soundtrack. But that's good! It stands out from the average superhero look.

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