Monday, January 2, 2017

Not Really Jessica Jones: Jessica Jones - The Pulse: The Complete Collection Fizzles

The Good: Moments of focus, Some of the artwork, First story
The Bad: Second story is an outright dud, Lack of focus and character development, Erratic artwork
The Basics: Jessica Jones - The Pulse: The Complete Collection is a let-down for fans of Jessica Jones and the Marvel Universe as it tells very fractured stories.

I started reading books that focused on Jessica Jones because I became a fan of the Netflix television incarnation of Jessica Jones (Season 1 is reviewed here!). After reading the first proper volumes of Jessica Jones's books, I picked up Jessica Jones - The Pulse: The Complete Collection. Jessica Jones - The Pulse: The Complete Collection is a bit of a misnomer as it, unlike Alias, is not actually driven by Jessica Jones.

The concept behind The Pulse was that Jessica Jones and Ben Urich would uncover super hero stories and report them for The Daily Bugle. Unfortunately, the execution of Jessica Jones - The Pulse: The Complete Collection was far more scattershot. While Jessica Jones mulls being pregnant, Ben Urich investigates two stories that are brought to him. And the two stories that follow that formula are separated by a self-referential story that is so pointless, it is hard to understand how it ever got written.

Jessica Jones, pregnant with Luke Cage's child, is called to The Daily Bugle where she is offered a job. Her first super hero story for the Bugle is to figure out what happened to the reporter Terri Kidder. Terri was at the scene of a fight between the Vulture and Spider-Man, who gets scooped by the local news. Lacking a story, she has lunch with a friend who works at Oscorp and she learns people have begun going missing at Oscorp. When Kidder interviews Norman Osborn, he murders her and drops her body from up on high as the Green Goblin. Jones, Urich and others from the Bugle investigate the murder and Urich puts together that Osborn is the Green Goblin. When Jessica Jones is part of the team sent to apprehend Osborn, she is wounded and believes that she has lost the baby, which causes her to panic and for Luke Cage to work with Spider-Man to apprehend and expose Osborn once and for all.

The second story of Jessica Jones - The Pulse: The Complete Collection finds Jessica Jones and Luke Cage wounded when their apartment is blown up. While Jones waits for news on Cage's condition, Nick Fury, Danny Rand and Captain America arrives. Shortly thereafter, the hospital is attacked and Cage goes missing. Jones is captured by HYDRA and made an offer to join them in exchange for turning on S.H.I.E.L.D. and everyone else she knows. Jessica Jones is buoyed along by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents past and present until Ben Urich recalls a place that Cage might have been taken.

While Ben Urich investigates what appears to be a pretty straightforward robbery that was broken up by a smelly Daredevil in his old yellow suit, Jessica Jones visits Sue Richards and Carol Danvers at the Baxter Building. Urich is clued in that the hero who broke up the robbery might be a former Avenger named D-Man. While Urich looks into D-Man, Jones, Danvers and Cage are looking at new costume options for Luke Cage when Jones's water breaks. After getting kicked out of her previous hospital, Jones is rescued by the Avengers and brought to Dr. Strange to deliver her baby. When Cage proposes to Jones, she has to think about it, but in contemplating her first meeting with Luke Cage, Jessica Jones comes to a decision.

The story that uncovers the identity of the Green Goblin is generally well-written and well-resented. Norman Osborn is a killer who has stepped over the line and in Jessica Jones - The Pulse: The Complete Collection, Osborn is finally brought down. Apparently, Ben Urich put together the pieces years before and the Daily Bugle were nearly sued out of existence. So, even within this story, there is the sense that the story has been done before.

The "Secret Wars" crossover is remarkably unsatisfying. Unless one has a clue about the events of Secret Wars (reviewed here!), then this whole section of Jessica Jones - The Pulse: The Complete Collection is just a pointless diversion that goes nowhere and makes references to nothing that is at all clear within the story within the book.

Finally, the last story is incredibly simple and is more a plot function with a divergence to remind readers that D-Man once existed, which makes it somewhat pointless. The reference to an article - not in the volume - that J. Jonah Jameson wrote about the Avengers and Luke Cage makes Jessica Jones turning against him comprehensible only through context clues and it is not at all satisfying.

The artwork in Jessica Jones - The Pulse: The Complete Collection is inconsistent and makes a slow transition from a very traditional comic book look and feel with good flow within and between panels to the style familiar to readers of Alias for its repetitive panels and lack of genuine expressiveness.

Ultimately, Jessica Jones - The Pulse: The Complete Collection is a fractured book that may easily be passed by without leaving the reader feeling like they missed anything.

For other Jessica Jones books, please visit my reviews of:
Jessica Jones, Alias Volume 1
Jessica Jones, Alias Volume 2
Jessica Jones, Alias Volume 3
Jessica Jones, Alias Volume 4


For other graphic novel reviews, please check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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