Overview

Jennifer Blood #1

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Jennifer Blood #1

Credits

  • Words: Garth Ennis
  • Art: Audriano Batista
  • Colors: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
  • Story Title: "War Journal
  • Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Feb 16, 2011

Domesticity meets ultra-violence in Garth Ennis’ newest creator-owned series Jennifer Blood, a gory, touching, and cynical twist on the archetypal comic book “bad girl." And by touching, I of course mean a crushing blow to the hand with a 10 lb. pipe wrench (you’ll see what I mean, when you read it). This is Garth Ennis, after all. 

One doesn’t have to look too hard to find that undying staple of modern comics, the bad girl. She’s a common species often found in urban centers, haunting rooftop perches, shadowy wharfs, and derelict warehouses. Often nocturnal, the bad girl typically has uncanny night vision (thanks to cutting edge infra-red sniper’s scopes) and favors black skin-tight leather body armor. Vicious predators, they are most often found hunting their violent male counterparts but aren’t above battling other females of the species over territory or mates.

As facetious as the above sounds, I’d suggest it’s a fairly adequate description of just about every new female protagonist created in the last twenty years. It also describes somewhat superficially Ennis’ gun-toting, leather-clad modern femme fatale except for one unique, unavoidable fact: Jennifer Blood is someone’s mom.

Heck, she could be anyone’s mom – even yours.

It’s a deceptively simple twist on an old formula but in Ennis’ deft hands such a different look becomes infused with his characteristic razor-sharp wit, poignant observations, and of course gobs of blood, gore, and airborne bone fragments. I’ve always held that Ennis’ true strength as a storyteller isn’t his obvious passion for absurd, over-the-top violence but rather his inborn talent for creating well-rounded, fully developed characters. Sure, he enjoys a freakishly brilliant knack for creating John Woo-style operatic action violence but none of that would matter if the characters he so gleefully torments didn’t first resonate with his audience.

This talent for impeccable characterization is displayed no better than in his titular character. In Jennifer Blood, Ennis realizes a protagonist so utterly knowable it’s virtually impossible not to relate to her. Like most moms, Jennifer is already a hero in her own right, finding time to sew pageant costumes, cook dinner, take the car to the garage, and help the kids with homework. She takes pleasure in these activities, relishing the family time after dinner, even as she prepares a good dose of valium for the rugrats and her doting husband. It’s a wonderful little scene of true domestic bliss and serves as a quiet counterpoint to the explosive violence Jennifer perpetrates later as her alter ego.

Ennis delights in this juxtaposition, expanding upon it and letting it color both sides of Jennifer’s double-life. She reads Guns & Ammo while having her hair done, puts a keen edge on her K-bar in between hunting down lost sneakers and sewing costumes, and makes a mental note to revisit a particularly disgusting and abusive mechanic, on her way home from massacring one of her criminal uncles.

Jennifer Blood, like much of Ennis’ work, is a book of hidden depths. He holds an observant, if cynical mirror up to our perceptions of domesticity and the daily grind, showing us a twisted yet poignant snapshot of a woman desperate to protect her family at any and all cost, even if it means taking out the bad guys along with the trash after a long day of car repairs, soccer practices, and math homework.

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Comments

  • Richard Boom

    Richard Boom Feb 15, 2011 at 1:43pm

    loved it just as much!!!

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