Here we have Garth Ennis dropping another hyperviolent comic on the unsuspecting masses. While it’s not his greatest work, it is still a lot of fun. It’s a deep character study as much as a blasting action spectacular. Jennifer Blood is a female Punisher by night and by day a bored housewife with thoughts and actions last seen in “Mad Men.” Ennis quite possibly should have set this comic in the 60s just so the lead’s internal dialogue didn’t feel so out of place and extreme, though I haven’t watched “Desperate Housewives” ever so maybe this is a common internal monologue of today’s retro homemaker.
Using a diary entry device to frame the comic means Ennis has to channel the voice of a bored housewife. I’m shocked that he manages to keep it consistent and does it relatively well. Certain aspects might be overplayed but, overall, what we have is a categorical mother’s eye looking over the business of killing. The juxtaposition works purely because it is something new.
Be warned, here there be violence. Heads are shot with explosive effect and wrenches are used on more than machines. It’s over the top, but it’s satire as much as it is all-out action. Ennis segues from the mundane to the grotesque too easily, as does the character, but the thoughts behind it all remain bland, like a mother inspecting a particularly nasty grass stain under red wine. The true question is, how broken is this character, and what exactly was it that broke her?
Set against this highlife of shooting gangsters and dreaming about guns, we have the home life that is picture perfect and bland. It’s supposed to come off as simple but instead feels almost creepy. The pseudo-milquetoast bird-watching husband is more leery than sweet. It is hard to reconcile why this lady is happy in this existence at all and that’s where the comic falls down. I feel like she wouldn’t care if they all got killed because of her actions. True drama should come from her protecting the part of her life she truly loves but it is the Jennifer Blood aspect that consumes and fires her more.
Adriano Batista should have been working with Ennis years ago. His style shows violence well, but he works the story and emotional beats just as effectively. His design work and use of the Jennifer Blood persona is amazing in parts. He sells this character in her sexy recklessness in every way.
This introductory issue is a standard shoot ’em up in many ways. There are bread crumbs of characterization but it’s mostly the things not yet said or shown. The best mystery is internal; It’s not about asking who she is out to kill, but rather what steps led to her being this way and what is her endgame? Ennis delivers an intriguing concept coupled with explosive action and a killer female lead who is broken on the inside, no doubt about it. Watching her scrutinize her use of guns and mold stains just makes it all more hilarious.