Comic Review – “The Pulse Vol. 1: Thin Air”

Mild spoilers ahead; be warned.

General Information

Title: The Pulse Vol. 1: Thin Air

Author: Brian Michael Bendis

Illustrator(s): Mark Bagley

Original Publication Date: Issues 1-5 were originally
bimonthly over 2004. The trade paperback is due to
hit shelves
tomorrow, November 10, 2004.

ISBN: 0-7851-1332-0

Cover Price: $13.99 US

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Past comic reviews can be found here.


The Daily Bugle hires Jessica Jones to consult on a
new column titled
The Pulse that will run super hero stories
people want to
read each Sunday. The first story is the
investigation of the death
of a Bugle reporter.

This is effectively a series combining the working
stiffs of the
Marvel Universe. The main characters are Jessica
Jones, the private
investigator from Alias, Kat Farrell, the
Bugle reporter from
the Deadline miniseries, Ben Urich, the
Bugle reporter who
knew Daredevil’s secret identity long before the rest
of the world,
and J. Jonah Jameson, Bugle publisher and Spider-Man
foil. It’s an
interesting concept that stays close to the action of
the Marvel
Universe, but will allow much time to be spent on
normal people and
how the existance of super heroes affects their
lives. It also allows
for a rotating cast of super powered heroes, since
they can reasonably
cover any hero active in New York.

High Point

I love a woman who isn’t satisfied to be a damsel in
Jessica is definitely one of these women.

Low Point

The lack of motivation behind Osborn’s change.
There’s a lot going on
here that needs to be told with such a well
established character. I
think this may be the first time I’ve ever thought a
story arc Bendis
wrote should have been longer, if only to fill in
these details with a
more involved investigation and back story.

The Scores

The basic premise of a superhero working for a
newspaper isn’t
original. The first comic book superhero
ever works for a
newspaper, after all. The originality comes out in
the details of the
personal lives of the main characters. I give it 4
out of 6.

The artwork is usually as good as Bagley’s
work on
Ultimate Spider-Man, but not always. There
are a few pages
that look rushed, particularly the page in which
Urich tells Jameson
what’s going on back in issue four. I don’t know if
it’s just the
inking, which looks heavier than usual, or if the
pencilling was off
under it, but it just doesn’t fit with the rest of
the series. Other
individual panels are a little bit off, too. I give
it 4 out of 6.

The story suffers from the lack of a
mystery. If I buy a
title about investigative reports, I expect a
difficult investigation,
which is emphatically not what we got. The heroic
characters work
well together, but they don’t need to be using this
setting if they
aren’t actually doing their jobs. I give it 3 out of

The characterization of the heroes is
excellent, but the
characterization of Osborn is lacking greatly.
There’s just too much
of his story missing. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response this produced had
some great moments
(like the rooftop conversation between Peter and Ben,
or Luke Cage’s
encounter with the car, and so forth), but the
overall package is
lacking a mystery as I’d have expected from a title
of this type.
Obscuring the victim’s name in the first issue was
one indication that
I took to imply that mystery would be a bigger part
of the title. I
give it 4 out of 6.

The flow was good for most issues, but hit
some back pedaling
with the flashback in issue two. It felt like that
was the second
issue purely to put recognizable characters in the
first issue, and
not because it truly belonged there. Bendis could
have written a
linear story that intercut between Osborn’s latest
plans and Terri
getting to know her colleagues, including those
assigned to “The
Pulse.” This would include the well known
characters, fill out
Osborn’s background, and get rid of a flashback that
was there for the
sake of a flashback. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a decent start, but not quite
as strong as I’d
hoped for from the team that brought us Ultimate
I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, The Pulse Vol. 1: Thin Air
receives 27 out of 42.

Additional Notes and Comments

Next week’s review: Daredevil Vol. 10: The Widow.