Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Review # 183: "Jessica Jones: The Pulse"

In my review of "Alias" I mentioned how a sanitized Jessica Jones isn't nearly as good as a vulgar Jessica Jones. Case in point: "Jessica Jones: The Pulse."

A pregnant Jessica, now firmly attached to Luke Cage, takes a job as a reporter for a superhero-centric magazine section run by the Daily Bugle. Jessica's job opportunity spills out of a story in "Alias" regarding J. Jonah Jameson. With a baby on the way, the mother-to-be wants a job that's more stable. Choosing print journalism seems like a step backwards from a private investigator in terms of security, but she's less likely to be shot at.

In truth, "pregnant mother-to-be Jessica" trying not to screw up is far less interesting than "hardened private eye" Jessica actually screwing up. Maybe it's the mystique lost from actually knowing her past at this point; maybe it's the cleaner art in the beginning by Brian Michael Bendis' "Ultimate Spider-Man" partner Mark Bagley instead of the dirty look of Michael Gaydos; maybe it's the lack of the word "fuck." Whatever it is, early on the series is unable to return to the vibe "Alias" had. It's still the same character, though. Just in a different light. Keeping up with Jessica retains its value, but there's this constant feeling that something is missing in the early-goings.

"The Pulse" does pick up, though. When Bagley leaves and Brent Anderson and Michael Lark take over on art, it coincides with a switch in direction back to some darker tones. For example, Jessica and Luke get their asses kicked and Cage is left in a coma. When the baby is finally about to come around, Gaydos is back on art and it finally feels like the series is heading back to its roots.

Sadly, it's at this time that the plug is pulled completely. For her second straight series, Jessica has a significant life moment involving Luke and everything comes to an abrupt end. Since then, Jessica has primarily been a background character for her husband: something highlighted greatly in the "New Avengers" wedding issue where Jones is little more than a bystander while Luke is out Avenger-ing. Jessica Jones continues to be underrated to this day, though the fantastic Netflix series is hopefully changing that. Perhaps that will bring Bendis back to his greatest creation once more. There is still some enormous character potential here just waiting to be tapped. Unfortunately, "The Pulse" rarely did and had Jessica floating instead of flying.

Rating: 7/10

*Prediction: Jessica gets a new series after a divorce with Luke in which he keeps the baby. Seriously, that's gotta be the life-changing catalyst that sends her back to her old life, right? RIGHT?

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