Comics : The Pulse #11
This review was first published on: 2005.
It sure looks, from the cover, as if Jessica Jones has had her baby while all the New Avengers stand around and marvel. But if you believe it's going to happen that fast, then you don't know Brian Michael Bendis.
The Pulse #11
Nov 2005 : SM Spin-Off
Arc: Part 1 of "Fear"
Jessica Jones, very pregnant, arrives at the Baxter Building and is told she can go right up. Reaching the headquarters of the Fantastic Four, she is almost trampled in yet another spat between the Thing and the Human Torch but is protected from harm by one of Susan Richards' force fields. She is introduced to the Thing ("We met once," she says. "Is it mine?" he says) and Franklin Richards (who touches her stomach and says, "You're going to be someone's mommy.")
At the same time, Ben Urich is investigating an attempted robbery of a jewelry store which the employees say was thwarted by Daredevil in his old yellow costume.
Jessica was expected at the Baxter Building because she has a lunch date with Sue Richards and Carol Danvers, arranged by Carol so that Jessica can speak with someone who has had experience with all the questions and fears that a super-powered woman has about the state and future of her baby. Sue opens up, revealing her innermost thoughts and emotions, and concluding by telling Jessica "end of the day, seriously, it's all worth it. All of it. It's a bargain."
At the Daily Bugle, Ben Urich pursues his story and learns from Kat Farrell that the super-hero in question is actually D-Man, former companion to Captain America. He gets a call from the jeweler to tell him that a necklace, a bracelet and a ring are missing. The jeweler suspects they were taken by the super-hero who thwarted the robbery.
Jessica and Luke Cage go to the Wasp's Van Dyne Design to see if she can come up with a good super-hero costume for Luke. All of the suggestions bear a resemblance to outfits worn by the Saturday Night Live cartoon characters known as the Ambiguously Gay Duo. Luke isn't thrilled by any of them. But he never has to make a decision. In the middle of the session, Jessica's water breaks. "Luke" she tells her lover, "this is it".
The issue ends with a four page preview of the new series "Nick Fury's Howling Commandos" which is so non-sensical and drawn so much like a bad overly- cluttered comic from the 90s that it really only serves as a reminder to save your money and steer clear of this one.
Okay, we've got the baby on the cover but Jessica only starts going into labor at the end of the issue. That's not bad pacing, actually, for a Bendis book. I don't know how long he's going to stretch this one out but part one works rather nicely. We all know that dialogue is what Bendis does best. Here he gives us some lovely stuff with Franklin, Sue, and Jessica (Franklin: "Is there a real baby in there?" Jessica: "There sure is." Sue: "Mommy had you in her belly when you were really little." Franklin: "No way!") and some truly thoughtful talk between Sue, Jessica, and Carol. (Sue: "Will the kid be normal? Will the kid survive being the kid of two super-heroes? Will I make it through the delivery? Will a super-villain kidnap my child to get revenge on me for stopping a bank robbery ten years ago? Will my damaged DNA codes create a mutation in my child that his biology can't support?" Jessica: "Ugh! I hadn't thought of that one.") One of the traits that separates Bendis from many other comic writers is his ability to process super-hero concepts into very human thoughts and fears; seeming to ask questions and look at points of view with which most others in his profession don't bother. He does that to perfection here in this lunchtime discussion between three super-women. Sue's advice that "There is no right. There is no wrong. There is only love and... and guidance and kissing the boo-boos. And you can do everything right and they might still grow up to put on a big frog costume and jump around the city" is as wise in our world as in the Marvel world. (Maybe we don't have to worry about the "frog costume" part. On the other hand, maybe we do.) The only thing that undermines this section at all is Michael Gaydos art in which all three women have the same nose and it looks like he used the exact same drawing of Sue in about five different places. Otherwise it's six of the best pages you'll find in a comic book sequence where nobody's moving very much.
The beginning of the D-Man subplot is intriguing but there isn't enough of it to form an opinion. We'll no doubt learn more in future issues as well as find out what happens with Jessica giving birth. In the meantime, the conversation at the core of this issue is good enough and smart enough to warrant four webs.
Four webs. It could have been five webs without the preview of "Nick Fury's Howling Commandos". Just kidding.