The Pulse, volume 2: Secret War (2005)

I think Brian Bendis may have finally jumped the shark. At least, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to after reading this collection of issues 6 to 9 of The Pulse. The Pulse depicts the continuing adventures of Jessica Jones, late of the clever series Alias, who has given up her life as a private investigator and now works as a reporter for the Daily Bugle. Oh, and she’s pregnant. And she’s in love with Luke Cage, Power Man. And she doesn’t actually spend much time writing.

In fact, in this book, pregnant Jessica basically finds herself wandering through New York confused about what’s happening, having strange events happen around her that she doesn’t understand, meeting an incredibly out-of-character Wolverine, and having every random person she meets comment on her pregnancy. If you’re getting the idea that there’s not much plot in this story, you’re right. Instead we get page after page of characters talking with each other, arguing with each other, punching each other, but no real movement of plot. It’s so exaperating to read this kind of endless unfiltered Brian Michael Bendis for page after page. Hydra even shows up and kidnaps Jessica, offering her a basically unlimited amount of money to join their side. But really all that scene does is present another chance for people to talk in that endless Bendis-speak. Oh, and the Hydra guys know that Jessica is pregnant.

Apparently everybody in the damn Marvel universe knows that Jessica is pregnant, because it feels like nearly every page has a comment by one character or another on Jessica’a pregancy. "Okay, Bendis," I wanted to scream, "she’s pregnant. I get it. Now what in the hell does that have to do with the story?" Nothing, really: there’s no threat of Jessica miscarrying, no appearance that the pregnancy is affecting her health or her reactions to what happens around her. It’s just there and is commented on because it seems like it should be important.

Even the details of this story seem false. There’s an angry confrontation between Cage’s partner Iron Fist where he talks about how he barely knows Jessica. This is despite the fact that we see them earlier talking in the hospital and, of yeah, she’s pregnant with Cage’s baby and Cage is Iron Fist’s best pal. Jessica never ran into Danny in the "Heroes For Hire" office, or ever went to his house for a barbecue?

I could talk about more stupid scenes in this comic, like where Captain America punches Nick Fury for who knows what reason, or how Wolverine actually breaks down sobbing, or why ninjas knew that Jessica was going to visit Luke Cage at a clinic, or how the nurse at that clinic is wearing an outfit out of the 1950s. But I won’t. Really almost nothing rings true in this book.

The saving grace of this book is the art. Brent Anderson, best known for his work on Astro City, illustrates much of the book and does a fantastic job with the rotten source material. Anderson is a master of mood and emotion, and is very effective at depicting New York, both interiors and exteriors, effectively. Michael Lark also steps in to contribute some work, and adds a wonderfully graceful line to the story.

One more note on the art: the cover is a big tease. It shows Wolverine breaking through a newspaper, in full uniform ready to kick ass. No such scene happens in this book. Logan only appears in eight pages, never in his uniform, and mostly spends his time whining about his lot in life. It’s false advertising to depict an image that doesn’t even come close to happening inside the book, just an annoying tease for readers.

I don’t know if it’s fair to extrapolate from this book that Bendis has jumped the shark, but based on this book, I’d have to say yes. Volume two of The Pulse is just awful.


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