In honor of Jessica Jones Season 3, we go back to the time Jessica tried to make a go as a costumed hero.  No, not that costumed hero.  The OTHER one…  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of The Pulse #14 awaits!


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Andy Schmidt
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3.00

Previously in The PulseAfter a toxic waste accident left her with super-powers, Midtown High wallflower Jessica Jones tried to make a go as the costumed hero, Jewel.  She encountered The Purple Man, who traumatized and assaulted her, eventually sending her to attack The Avengers and ending Jewel’s career for good.  Years later, Jessica had forged a successful private investigative franchise and even found a relationship with Luke Cage, leading to a very unexpected pregnancy.  Now, Luke has proposed…

…and Jessica has questions.

The actual framing device in this story is the patented Bendis Conversation™, with the added edge of Baby Cage not actually being able to talk back, allowing Jessica to ruminate about how she ever managed to end up in this situation, explaining that she didn’t even think Luke knew what “marriage” meant.  Now, she has to consider the possibility of something that had seemed impossible, flashing back to how she met Luke in the first place, during her SECOND attempt to make a superhero career work out.

That’s a really striking image from Gaydos, paired with some truly fun Bendis dialogue that gives us a setting (the dark days of the mid-1980s in our world, “a few years ago” for Jess) and some important insight into Ms. Jones mindset before throwing her into a battle with The Owl.  “You have an animal, there’s an idiot wants to be called that,” she explains to her baby before explaining that the fight went a little south for her, and only the interference of Power Man and Iron Fist brought it under control.  I remember being incredibly happy to see the original costumes in this issue, and I still appreciate it, as I’m a slippers/high collar and yellow silk shirt supporter.  Knightress gets slashed by The Owl, who in turn gets punched out by Luke, leading to a superhero-style meet-cute.

Heh.  The explanation of why people hate Spider-Man actually makes perfect sense, but things get more complicated with the revelation that the man The Owl shot had his children in the car.  The police just shrug and prepare to keep them at the station overnight, since they can’t reach their mother, but Jessica isn’t willing to let the children suffer because of something they get dragged into by an idiot father, and even though she’s not a great superhero, she is, on occasion, a pretty good person.

Jessica’s credentials check out, and we cut to the two kids, asleep in her bed, when she hears a knock at the door.  “I had guilt so I thought I’d come hang out a little”, explains Luke Cage, who even brought sandwiches, explaining that he was just gonna go home and watch kung-fu movies, while she risked her identity to make sure that a couple of children she didn’t even know got to sleep comfortably.  She explains that, after her accident, she woke up completely alone, with her whole family dead, and was going to give up her masked identity anyway, but Luke is still mightily impressed.  He even cleans up and dresses her wound, all the while trying to get her to explain what made her want to quit, to no avail.

Michael Gaydos doesn’t have a wide range of expressions for his characters, but he nails every scene of this issue, from Luke’s puzzled interest to Jessica’s discomfort to The Owl’s snarl of rage, leading to an ending where Baby Danielle’s face convinces Jessica to say yes to her long-time no-strings-attached friend.  The Pulse #14 is actually the final issue of the series, so the cliffhanger feels a little bit weird, but these characters transitioned into New Avengers soon afterwards, bringing them both back to the superhero game in full force, and the issue is full of personality that even the unnecessarily dark coloring can’t obscure, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  I think the best part of this issue is the transition from casual partners in the R-Rated ‘Alias’ to the committed parents of ‘New Avengers’ takes place almost entirely in these twenty-odd pages.  It seems like it should be a lot of work, but the creators make it look easily.

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A Strange Ending

The story of how Luke and Jessica met is a sweet one (at least by Jessica standards) and the art and story overcome a really heavy-handedly dark coloring job to make for a good read.

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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.

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