For a series called “Jackpot,” the tone of this series is way, way off. Perhaps that’s a failure of expectation, but let’s put it this way: I don’t see how anyone involved with a book called “Jackpot” could reasonably think that it should involve so much blood. This is a dark series — which isn’t something I have a critical problem with per se — but it’s inappropriately dark, to the point where it becomes distracting.
Over the last three issues, Ehret, as a character, has shown little in the way of a carefree, light-hearted attitude that might suggest that she models herself on MJ, as her original appearances suggested. Perhaps the fault there lies in the fact that the more self-pitying aspects of her character were allowed to dominate in the early days, and no attempt has been made to rectify that since.
It’s also possible that she just never really had a chance to grow in that direction. I can appreciate the need to put a character through the wringer to create interesting conflicts, but here, Ehret is shown as being massively out of her depth and overwhelmed by her situation, so it’s no surprise that things aren’t very cheerful. On the plus side, the conclusion to Ehret’s story is an appropriate one, given the relentlessly bleak tone of the book. If there was every any doubt that this version of Jackpot wasn’t cut out for the superhero lifestyle, it’s clear now; personally, in her situation, I’d probably have quit too.
If the book does any character a particular service, it’s the supervillain Boomerang, who has, as of this series, become a credibly dangerous murderer. On the other hand, the new incarnation of The Rose is throwaway and forgettable, and there’s literally no good reason given as to why this man should assume an existing character’s mask and name. All it does is run the identity further into the ground.
Artistically, the book is all over the place. The visuals are dynamic and often fun to follow, regardless of the material, with a hint of a MacFarlane-esque Spidey at times, but other pages seem rushed, full of ugly expressions, characters looking in the wrong direction, and out-of-proportion figures. There’s also a slightly ridiculous amount of cheesecake which, combined with the dark tone, gives the issue a 90s vibe — and I don’t mean that favorably.
So, what I assumed would be a book about establishing the new Jackpot and her world actually turned out to be one designed to take her off the board entirely. To be honest, I can’t fathom why this story was done in a miniseries rather than in the main title, where people might have actually read it. Regardless of how good or bad it was, the biggest crime of this series is that a potentially interesting character from the Spider-Man universe has been quietly shuffled into limbo. Given that Jackpot was a major part of the “Brand New Day” relaunch (even though it was the Alana Jobson version) it’s a shame to see wasted opportunity, and that’s what this feels like.