February 27, 2010

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The Pulse Volume 1

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated by Mark Bagley and Scott Hanna
Marvel

I'm not entirely sure how the Pulse got started as a series from Alias (I think) but it picks up the story of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, two of Bendis's favorite characters, who tend to appear in nearly anything Marvel that Bendis writes.

The idea is that good old JJJ is starting to see that his bias in the Bugle is affecting sales, so he hires Jessica to help Ben Urich write a column that puts the heroes in a slightly better light. Meantime, a Bugle reporter, desperate to keep her job, gets a little too close to an increasingly crazy Norman Osborne. Soon, Peter must make a hard choice, Ben Urich must decide if he's willing to stake his entire career on his quest to take down the Goblin, and Luke Cage gets really, really pissed.

This is well-done Bendis. Focusing less on the capes and more on the down to earth people--in this case Bugle employees--he's able to show a side of the Marvel U that doesn't get seen very often. I especially like the scene between Urich and Peter (who I think they put in costume just to pump up sales a bit), when Ben tries to explain to him why not letting Osborne go is so important. I honestly don't know if Pete's ever thought of it like that.

I should also note Bendis really captures the spirit of Stan Lee's Jamison--he's not a redeemable figure, he's always thinking of himself first. He's not really a man of the news, he's a man who makes his money from the news, and part of that was tearing other people down. Oh, and Bendis's Cage is so funny. You can see where all of the New Avengers stuff Bendis is doing now comes from. The Pulse set the stage for it, and is a good read to go back to see how things came to be.

One final note is that Bags and Hanna, both of whom I like a lot, are not a real good match for each other. Hanna's inks seem to keep Bags's free-flowing pencils in check a bit too much for my taste. The art is good, but not quite what it could be.

This was an interesting start to the series, I might have to seek out more.