Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jennifer Blood #1

reviewed by guest contributor Simon Breeze

How would I describe Jennifer Blood? When I first came across this title I knew very little known about it. Just that it was written by Garth Ennis and that it followed the story of a female vigilante who dressed in black and was armed to the teeth with more guns than you could shake a stick at.

I enjoy Garth Ennis's work, and I am a big fan of Tim Bradstreet's cover art too, so I guess I had nothing to lose by adding issue #1 to my monthly pull list from this tiny amount of information. I must admit I did wobble just a little as from promotion to pull list to arriving in my sticky mitts for when I heard the rumours that Jennifer Blood was going to be Dynamite's answer to Marvel's Punisher. Yes that's right, it is a female Punisher – Awesome! Or maybe not in my case. If I want to read Punisher, I'll go buy an issue of Punisher.

So you can only guess at my joy when I received my copy of Jennifer Blood and it turned out that its has own identity and has very little in common with Punisher. In fact once I got reading I very quickly forget the comparison and was quickly drawn into the world of Jennifer Blood.


So who is this Jennifer Blood? I had visions from the cover art and previews that I'd seen of a Mr & Mrs Smith, only Mrs Smith was the one with the uber cool double-life that her husband and kids were in the dark about; some kind of super cool CIA agent or hit woman maybe? Well, kind of.

Jennifer Blood follows the life of an everyday suburban wife and her loving husband, two young children, car problems, housework and the million and one other things you would expect from the normal everyday life of a housewife in the 'burbs'. However, things take a turn for the darker for Jennifer when night time comes as she takes on the persona of the aforementioned, Jennifer Blood – black leather clad, gun slinging, martial-arts swinging vigilante, who is so cool that she even wears sunglasses at night!

Issue #1 is a clever mix of both aspects of Jennifer's life, the suburban wife and the vigilante, telling a neatly flowing story that is not only pretty much self-contained to this issue, yet also sets up the ongoing threads for a larger story arc and leaving plenty of mystery about what the hell is going on to keep you engaged and wanting more.

The story itself is told from a first person view through the eyes of Jennifer via her diary, called a 'War Journal' (did someone say Punisher?!): a pink and fuzzy diary that would not look out of place in a teenage girls top draw along with her socks.

As the story progresses you soon realise that you are getting a 'day in the life' of Jennifer Blood with this issue. What better way to introduce a new character and their world than to spend a whole day with them? We join Jennifer and her family in the morning, then follow her throughout her day from getting the car fixed, to cleaning the house, cooking the tea, helping the kids with the homework, putting them and the husband to bed (I liked this bit, I did wonder how she managed to sneak out unnoticed at night – well here is how you do it), getting tooled-up in her 'Batcave', kicking the bad guys butts and hitting the sack at the end of a long day.

It sounds bizarre doesn't it? Family life for the first part of the story, uber cool vigilante at night for the second part: however that is the genius of it. By the time we see Jennifer going on her night time mission, you have already brought in to her 'mum' role, so to see her beating a guy built like a brick outhouse with her bare hands comes as a surprise. Not only that, you start to worry about her! Is she going to make it back okay? What if she gets wounded, how is she going to explain that? What if she does get killed, what will that do to her husband and kids, how will they cope? You also can't help but enjoy the violence when it comes too, despite the nagging worry - it is full-on, tense and doesn't hold back.

There are some nice touches in the story, the comeuppance of the 'hands-on' garage owner who got what he deserved - and I'm sure what hundreds of women have fantasied about doing in a similar situation too. This comic also has quite possibly, after Alias #1, the best sex scene in a comic – EVER! I will leave that little gem for you to discover on your own and let your imagination go bonkers until then.

The comic is 100% worthy of its Mature Readers warning. It is gory, sexy, sweary, violent and very brutal in places too, yet it never feel like it is for the sake of it, more that that is just the way it is. I can't help but get a good 'Dexter' vibe from Jennifer Blood, in that it is a clever split life of opposites, and although you know you shouldn't be rooting for the 'Dark Avenger' personality, you can't help it. The humour throughout is brilliant and perfectly matches whichever of Jennifer's persona's she currently inhabits, light and fun as the wife, dark for the vigilante.

All of the covers sport fantastic and diverse art, Garth Ennis's writing is top notch as always and Adrino Batista and Romulo Fajardo Jr's interior art fits the story brilliantly. This single issue is a shining example of how a first issue should be and I can't help but feeling that Jennifer Blood is going to get amazing as things progress.

I give Jennifer Blood a 5 out of 5, it is simply brilliant and I can't wait for more!

Jennifer Blood #1
Written by Garth Ennis, illustrated by Adriano Batista, coloured by Romulo Fajardo Jr., lettered by Rob Steen, covers by Tim Bradstreet, Jonathan Lau, Ale Garza, Johnny Desjardins
Published by Dynamite Entertainment

My thanks to Simon for another enjoyable review. I haven't read Jennifer Blood but judging by Simon's review I think I ought to be picking it up - time to contact my shop I think and see if they still have this first issue in stock. Check out more fantastic Dynamite titles - including Warlord of Mars and Red Sonja at the Dynamite Entertainment website.