Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Pulse Vol. 3 Fear Trade Paperback Review

The Pulse Vol. 3 - Fear
Marvel Comics
Softcover Trade Paperback
144 pages
$14.99 (2006)
ISBN 9780785119517

Contributors: Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, Olivier Coipel, Jose Villarrubia, June Chung, Richard Isanove, Drew Geraci, Drew Hennessy, John Livesay, Mike Mayhew, Rick Magyar, Danny Miki, Mark Morales, Mike Perkins, and Tim Townsend

Reprints: The Pulse #11-14 (of 14); New Avengers Annual #1

Synopsis: Jessica Jones is a former superhero who gave up the life after a severely traumatizing experience and never looked back...or so we thought.  She eventually started Alias Investigations and worked as a private investigator while continually beating herself up with alcohol and cigarettes.  On a particularly drunken night she slept with close friend Luke Cage and ended up pregnant with his baby.  The two grew closer and have become a loving pair of expectant parents.  Jessica quit the somewhat dangerous PI work to become a consultant for J. Jonah Jameson's Daily Bugle newspaper and work with Ben Urich on the fledgling superhero section. 

Now Jessica is a nervous soon-to-be-mother with a million questions.  Will the baby come out all right since she has superpowers from an accident with radioactive material?  She gets advice from the ultimate super-mom - Susan Storm, the Invisible Woman!  Just in time apparently as the baby decides to be born. 

It's Jessica vs. the health care system when she shows up at a hospital and tells them she has superpowers.  Of course her doctor is nowhere to be found (they have a funny way of doing that when you're trying to deliver your baby!) and only Luke Cage's new teammates can help -- AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!

The team includes at least one doctor, but he's a little Strange (mwah-ha-ha).  What happens when the media shows up and JJJ demands the exclusive story he was promised when Jessica first began working for him?  Meanwhile Ben Urich uncovers the forgotten hero-turned-homeless - D-Man!

Jessica recounts the first time she met Luke Cage and Danny Rand (aka Iron Fist) during a second brief stint as a superhero (told ya!).  Meanwhile the two new parents get hitched and it's a deadly affair as the recently croaked Yelena Bulova (aka Black Widow II) comes calling for revenge.  She's been souped up by AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics) and is powerful enough to take on the whole team.  Will Jessica and Luke's wedding be ruined?
The progression of Jessica Jones' life
Pros: Michael Gaydos is back!, Bendis writes Jessica really well, major events happen, the annual was an action-packed slugfest

Cons: Coipel's art was a bit cartoony, Jessica's wedding vows were kinda corny, D-Man story interlaced with Jessica's labor felt like a non-sequitur, the trade shouldn't have been titled "Fear", covers by Mayhew weren't as good (I didn't like his rendition of Jessica)

Mike Tells It Straight: We finally get Bendis and Gaydos reunited after the end of Alias just to have The Pulse end.  These two definitely had a good thing going and it should never have been messed with.  This final volume was bittersweet, but overall a good read and puts a nice cap on the JJ saga with the birth/wedding.  She becomes a supporting character in New Avengers after this, but Bendis writes it so I'm hoping she'll still be treated properly. 

Bottom line - Alias was a great series and Jessica was the star.  In The Pulse she was relegated to cast member and finally became the star again, but too late.  This series could never quite hit the same high notes as its Marvel MAX (mature readers imprint) predecessor.  Nevertheless this book is an absolute must-read for fans of Jessica Jones and worth checking out.  Farewell!

TO BUY and Recommendations: