"Jennifer Blood" #9 is a strange book because you simply cannot look away. This is a guilty pleasure making you swear with every page and terrible event detailed you will quit right on the spot. Yet you still find yourself continuing to read because you simply have to know. It's a sick relationship to be reading this book and that's exactly how it should be.
Amidst the action and depravity, Al Ewing reminds us our terribly ingenious lead is still a mother and is still smarter than nearly all the other characters. The opening page presents quite a conundrum and she handles it in stride. She's calling an audible as it unfolds and does it in a clever and amusing way so the reader gets a few chuckles.
The biggest problem with the book will always be the shadow of Garth Ennis cooling the air around it. Ewing cannot stray far from the original tone set and does his best to keep up with the events for which most people are realistically buying this book. There are sexual issues, violent tendencies, warped views of the body and the things that loiter about and come out of it. Ewing is doing his best to pepper in as much sensationalistic immorality as he can. He's keeping up but the quality wanes at times -- the broheims by the pool are a little distracting, especially in the extravagant posing and the 'drinking from jars' scene is surely a step too far.
Comic book violence is meant to be over the top. I understand that. Yet, I still cannot buy into the final sequence wholeheartedly. I love the team-up Ewing sets up, I honestly do, but I can't buy into a guy having his eyeball crushed as it dangles from his face, simply packing his eye with a wet cloth and allowing him to realistically do anything more than whimper and moan for the next week. It's a severe dose of comic insanity and you have to be prepared to let go to truly enjoy whatever is going to come next.
Eman Casallos steps in for the art on this issue and he does a very good job. His character faces are expressive and so more life appears on the page. He also takes opportunities to frame panels in intriguing ways. This is actually the best the title has looked so far. It's not often a fill-in artist produces the best material and hopefully he will be back soon.
There is a definite audience for "Jennifer Blood," just as there is most certainly an audience not for it. In a Venn diagram, those two circles would be lucky to touch. As far as hyperviolent comics go, this one is all right. Anytime a bat-wielding sex fiend neighbor protects his unrequited homicidal focus by swinging a bat with a nail through it while screaming "TIME FOR SOME BAT, YOU SUNGLASSES-AT-NIGHT &%^$#@*&$%#$," I know I'll just have to tune in next month.