Family Obligations – Jennifer Blood Volume 1: A Woman’s Work is Never Done

Seeing a book like Jennifer Blood on the stands reminds oneself of just how few books there are with strong female leads in them.  Sure, it is a little better now than it has ever been with Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Black Widow, Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, Vampirella, Lady Rawhide, She-Hulk, Tomb Raider, Lazarus and more, but you can never really have too many.  This book also happened to be written by Garth Ennis, fine purveyor of works like Preacher, War Stories, Chronicles of Wormwood, Battlefields and a list characters and stories longer than your arm.  This particular story is about a woman who is out to kill her past life by any means for having done her wrong.

The difference between this book and many others that Ennis has written, is that when reading it, you get the sense that Ennis was having fun doing so.  It is a bit lighter than most of his books though you still get some gore and violence and cursing and nudity, but on the whole, it is a different beast altogether.  Another great point to add is that while it is still lighter in tone, it is a mature reader’s book, and one of the few that Dynamite publish as such.

The book is also quite funny in a number of ways, though more of a humourous kind of funny.  Where the Boys was a straight up parody of the superhero genre and Preacher had a black humour that mocked everything from religion to Kurt Cobain, this book is a lot softer, almost like Desperate Housewives meets Death Wish.  A strange combination it might seem, but one that works quite well in Ennis’ expert hands.

This book would also not be the same if Ennis did not inject some sort of insanity into it, which is usually one crazy but memorable character.  That character is Jenny’s neighbour who is huge into porn and thinks most women want him, including her.  She of course wants nothing to do with him, and when he sees her sneaking around at night in her gear, obviously she must be into sadomasochism according to his thinking.  That spurs him to go full ‘gimp’ and Ennis of course puts him in the most ridiculous situation to be humiliated.

We also get introduced to a group of assassins named the Ninjettes, a trifecta of girls who have no other job aspirations and so, lend out there skills to those who will pay for them.  They are offensive with their mimcry of Asian-speak, and even address it later in the book which was quite funny on Ennis’ part making them self-aware of the fact.

There is one problem with the book, which is not any fault of the author’s, and that is the artwork which is inconsistent to say the best.  It is not terrible, as each of the four artists who worked on the six issues do their best and separately, they are all quite good, but the fact that they had to have four artists in the first place speaks of poor planning on the publisher’s part.  It does not completely distract you as the writing is so good, but when you do notice it, it is slightly annoying.

Jennifer is a good character and a strong one, and being quite new, we do not know everything about her, but she is a little reminiscent of Dexter due to the fact that she has a secondary life of which her family knows nothing and she even hides her ‘tools’ in the house similarly to what he does.  It was also nice to see her origin tale in the final issue rather than the first and to frame it as a sort of confession to the final uncle she needs to kill.  A great way to make it stand out from the usual background tales we usually read.

It will be interesting to see where the book heads after this arc as Ennis has had her claim her vengeance and the book has essentially ended.  If Dynamite had stopped publishing the book after this arc, it would have been tied up nicely, but as it has run for an additional thirty issues, we know that this is not the end of her story.  As far as opening arcs, and strong female characters go, Jennifer Blood ranks high.  It is original and fresh, and recommended for those looking for something a little different.

4.5 out of 5

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