Or – “A Garth Ennis Joint With A Name Like This?  Oh, Yes, There Will Be Blood.”

I’ll say this for the work of Garth Ennis:  I don’t always know where the story is going, and sometimes I don’t like where it ends up, but I generally trust that the ride will be worth the jolts.  It’s sort of like stepping onto the Gravitron, while a carnie named Junior who you just KNOW is a meth addict eats half a corndog and drinks malt liquor out of a brown paper bag.  Or as a wise young topless woman once told me: ‘A cheap thrill is still a thrill.’


JENNIFER BLOOD #1 – “War Journal”
Writer: Garth Ennis
Illustrator: Adriano Batista
Letterer: Rob Steen
Colors: Romulo Fajardo
Cover Artist: Tim Bradstreet/Jonathan Lau/Ale Garza/Johnny Desjardins
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, on Jennifer Blood: I am often unsure what to put in this section when we have a first issue.  Sometimes I suspect that nobody even reads this paragraph anyway, and think I could fill it with various slurs and insults upon whomever draws my ire and the only thing in the comments will be “Man, Anne Hathaway could NEVER play Catwoman, she doesn’t have the snoobs for it!”  In any case, my first interactions with Garth Ennis came when he took over the writing of Hellblazer, giving the series a whole new tilt, but he followed up with Preacher (a perverse genius work celebrating the American cowboy), Hitman (Gotham City’s greatest protector, never mind the mama’s boy with th’ pointy ears), then The Authority, The Pro (frickin’ brilliant) and The Boys, not to mention all the things he writes when he pretends his name is Warren Ellis.  (He only changes it for tax purposes, I’m sure of it…) 

The Nice Young Soccer Mom Next Door…

The first thing I will say about this book is that Ennis has the tone of the narration (first-person by Jennifer herself) down cold.  It’s first person Punisher-war-journal-style captioning, but the first page shows us the pink fuzzy diary that serves as Jennifer’s record of battle, and her highly entertaining thought processes, transitioning from her tribulations as housewife (a blouse ruined in the wash, which cleanser is better for the environment) to her ruminations on why 9mm ammunition has become so ubiquitous.  “What on earth’s the point of having twice as many bullets if you have to use three times as many to put someone down?”  We meet her husband and children, see her preparing dinner, helping with homework, crushing up the valium to put her family in a deep enough slumber to sneak out for her second life.  She even has a run-in with a corrupt, rude, harrassing mechanic whom she only patronizes to keep up appearances…  Artist Batista does solid, if somewhat uneven work (his facial expressions are still a bit looser than I like, and for some reason the ink line feels like it’s been magnified and is blurring about the edges) but there’s a lot more good than bad here.

…Will Take You OUT! (And We’re Not Talking About Dinner.)

Jennifer’s first mission takes her out in a black wig, leather catsuit and all the weapons she can carry, and chiding herself to keep the two halves of her life separate.  It’s an interesting, if obviously ultimately futile, premise.  She stakes out a local dock, a hotbed of criminal activity, and that’s when it all gets really fun.  Wading into the criminal element like a shapelier Frank Castle, Jennifer Blood earns her name, chewing up the ne’er-do-wells with grenades, high-caliber gunfire, and even dispatching one terrible beast with her knife, killing him in cold blood while finding herself annoyed at how long it takes him to die.  There’s even a justification for her super-sexy, cleavage-ridden, stripperiffic catsuit, as she distracts a couple of goons long enough to kill ’em dead.  The same workaday detachment that she applied to her shopping list applies to her vigilanteism, something that’s pretty refreshing in a world of angsty, dark gun-and-clawmen.  Her night ends with hubbykins waking up in the mood for love, and Jennifer dispassionately worrying about whether the stain on the ceiling indicates mold…

The Verdict: Enjoyable And Fun

It’s a mighty dark subject matter, but Jennifer’s demeanor makes this book not quite like a Punisher story.  She doesn’t seem to be engaged completely by either side of her life, instead smiling serenely and passing through both the life of a suburban mom and the life of a brutal killer with the same detachment.  My difficulties with the art never completely evaporate, and the grotesque scratchy linework makes the sex scene pretty repellent (probably moreso than the knife fight, honestly) and I don’t know how long the narrative can go before the bubble bursts and one of Jennifer’s worlds collapses into the other, but right now I’m impressed.  If you doubt that Ennis can get down to business without out-Preachering something or other, this would be a fine book to pick up.  Jennifer Blood #1 is a splendid first impression, and a gonzo bull-moose whopper of a mixed message, but it still excellent enough to bag 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I hadn’t intended to put this book on my pull list, but I am happy to say that I was wrong.  Jennifer Blood is the real deal.

Rating: ★★★★½

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

Previous post

Critical Hit #86: Paragon Paths

Next post

REVIEW: The Boys Fifty-One

2 Comments

  1. Rocket Rooster
    February 20, 2011 at 10:17 am — Reply

    This comic almost, again *almost* sounds like a female Dexter.

  2. Damascus
    April 12, 2011 at 4:53 am — Reply

    I wish I knew a little more about who exactly she’s going after and for what reason, which in itself is a reason why I’ll check out the rest of the series. Also, it sounds like it’s her first night out in one part of the story, but when she’s giving the breakdown of her skillset, her improvisation score seems like she’s done it before. And if it’s her first time, her comments about 9mm taking three times as many bullets to take a guy down would sound strange coming from someone who shouldn’t know that yet.

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section