30 May 2012

Faster than a DC Bullet: Jessica Jones, Part VI: The Pulse: Fear

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2006 (contents: 2005-06)
Borrowed from the library
Read May 2012
The Pulse: Fear

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist (for "Fear"): Michael Gaydos
Penciler (for New Avengers Annual #1): Olivier Coipel
Inkers (for New Avengers Annual #1): Drew Geraci, Drew Hennessy, Livesay, Rick Magyar, Danny Miki, Mark Morales, Mike Perkins & Tim Townsend
Colorists: Matt Hollingsworth, June Chung, Richard Isanove & Jose Villarrubia
Letterers: Cory Petit & Albert Deschesne

Now this is more like it! Michael Gaydos is back, but it's not just that that makes Fear the best volume of The Pulse by far.  It gets off to a rocky start, as Jessica visits the Baxter Building and meets three-quarters of the Fantastic Four. Nothing wrong with its execution; I'm just opposed to any moments where Jessica Jones has a genuine, full interaction with a superhero, as she stops being Jessica Jones at that moment.

But then Jessica has lunch with Sue Richards and Carol Danvers, and finally The Pulse revisits those themes that made Alias work so well: powerlessness.  Jessica is a superhero probably having a superbaby, but the powerlessness that that makes her feel-- how will the kid turn out? will she survive?-- is the powerlessness that all mothers feel. (Or so I imagine, having not been a mother myself. And hopefully not going to be one.) This is really driven home when Jessica asks Carol about her own superpregnancy. Ms. Marvel was impregnanted by an alien from another dimension: this hasn't happened to Jessica, but that's what it sometimes feels like to her.

There's one too many splash pages featuring the Avengers for my comfort, but other than that, this is a great Jessica Jones story.  The best part is the last issue, where we finally see a snippet from Jessica's brief career as "Knightress" and her first meeting with Luke Cage.  It's a lovely little vignette that's utterly consistent with everything we know about Jessica, but also makes sense of her love for Luke and her passion for motherhood that The Pulse has been lacking up to this point. The dialogue is finally written like it was in Alias, too. I kinda wish that we could have had this story sooner, but I also hafta admit that it's perfectly places here.

I also enjoyed the joke about how Jessica used to have much more foul language. Indeed, there were a number of good jokes.

In addition to this being a good Jessica Jones story, it's also finally a good Pulse story; while Jessica is giving birth, Ben Urich is tracking down D-Man, a homeless superhero inspired by Daredevil. It's a great little story that is eminently suited for the setup of The Pulse, unlike any of the stories told in it thus far, as it's actually about investigative reporting and also gives us a different angle on superheroes. Poor, hilarious D-Man.  Good jokes, here, too, but it's also oddly touching.

The book is closed out with the issue of New Avengers where Jessica and Luke get married. Olivier Coipel doesn't draw Jessica any better than anyone else who's not Gaydos, and though his art is nice, his storytelling isn't always great. Aside from the Jessica/Luke moments-- which are actually pretty good-- it's a pretty standard superhero throwdown. (Spider-Man makes a fun team member.) As I've said ad nauseam, I think having Jessica interact with the Avengers dilutes the premise a little too much, but if it's gotta happen, this is pretty good.

How come the teenage fanboy from Alias wasn't invited to the wedding, though? I mean, what happened to him at all? Poor guy. Dropped like he never even mattered.

Next issue: whatever happened to Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Cupid anyway? I don't care, but I'm going to find out regardless!

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