This series came to some form of a close yesterday.
Is it worth your time? Well, that depends on which
other titles you read.

General Information

Title: The Pulse #6-14

Author: Brian Michael Bendis

Illustrator(s): Brent Anderson and Michael Gaydos, for
the most part.

Original Publication Date: These issues were published
between early
2005 and now.

Past comic reviews can be found here.

Premise

This is a tough one. There are basically two premises
for this
series. The premise that I signed up for was about a
team of
investigative reporters in the Marvel universe, which
is exactly what
we got in the first five issues. The second premise
was the
continuing adventures of Jessica Jones, which is
really what dominated
a large portion of the latter run.

More than anything else, this series feels like a
collection of
deleted scenes from other titles Bendis writes. Those
who watch their
DVD special features have probably run across decent
scenes that
should stay deleted because they don’t really fit in
the movie that
they were shot for. We’ve got a lot of those here.

Issues 6-9 feel like the deleted scenes from the
Secret War miniseries (that is long overdue
for review
itself.) In those issues, Jessica is dealing with the
attack against
herself and Luke Cage, and calls in Ben Urich to use
his reporting
skills to track Cage down. Unfortunately, most of the
investigative
reporting is in the form of people calling them and
toying with them,
rather than actual investigation.

Issue 10 feels like deleted scenes from House of
M
, starring
Hawkeye. It reads well, and got me interested in
House of M
(which I picked up as a TPB, and still need to
review), and gave us a
chance to see what Bendis can do with Kat.

Issues 11-14 feel like deleted scenes from The New
Avengers
.
The main story is about the birth of Jessica’s baby
(which has a
pretty messed up timeline itself), and the side story
(which only runs
from issues 11-13) is about Ben Urich investigating
the current
lifestyle of D-Man.

The series is enjoyable, but it doesn’t really seem to
be doing what
it was promised to do. If you read interviews
with Bendis
from around the time of the series
launch, you’ll find
him talking about being upset about not being able to
use the
mainstream Marvel characters much in Alias,
due to the mature
nature of that title. So, once those restrictions are
lifted, we get
the characters in his other books, and D-Man. I’ve
read a fair number
of comics in my day, and this was the first time I’ve
run across
D-Man.

I guess I’m disappointed in the title because I was
looking for the
investigative reporting we got in the first five
issues, and ended up
with more Alias. It’s not that this series
is bad; it’s
not. It’s just that I expected and hoped for one
thing, and got
something else.

This is also the last issue of The Pulse for
some time. The
replacement creative team (including writer Paul
Jenkins) and others
will be producing Civil War: Frontline
instead. It makes
sense to run only one of these titles at a time.
Jessica Jones is no
longer involved with the Pulse (for reasons that you
won’t understand
completely unless you read New Avengers as
well), so all
that’s left is the investigative reporting aspect.
With something
like Civil War happening, you know that
that’s pretty much
the only superhero activity that’s going to get press
coverage for a
while. Since the title is going to be tied so
directly to Civil
War
, Marvel decided to rebrand it and make it an
explicit part of
the event, with a possible relaunch of The
Pulse
sometime
after Civil War is over. I’ll be picking up
the Civil
War: Frontline
title, which is coming out in ten
64 page issues
twice a month from June through October. (Civil
War
runs
from May through November, in 7 issues.) Perhaps I’ll
find what I was
looking for there.

I think that one of the main reasons I really wanted
an investigative
reporting title was that it would actually be
something new and
original. It was Marvel’s chance to tell stories
about truly everyday
people bringing supervillains down. It was their
chance to write
stories where the super powered bad guy gets caught
because he messed
up and the law caught up with him, and not because the
super powered
good guy hit him a lot and dragged him in. We’d get a
feel for how
the general populace actually sees this stuff, and how
they deal with
what goes on around them. That’s lacking in here.

In any event, most of this rant was to let you know
that what I was
expecting (investigative reporting from reporters with
personal lives)
is not what I got from this title. If you pick it up
expecting
something closer to what it actually is (the
continuing advetures of
Jessica Jones, along with touches of Ben Urich) you’ll
probably quite
enjoy it.

High Point

Issue 10, crossing over with House of M.
Unfortunately, the
House of M title didn’t deliver on what was
promised here,
which is something I find unfortunate. Still, this
issue is very
good.

Low Point

For me, it was the underemphasis on the aspect I was
most excited
about. Another big issue for any reader would be the
timelines, both
in and out of the story. The Secret War and
House of
Me
issues both came out on schedule, while the
series they tied
into where delayed, which caused some spoilers getting
out ahead of
time. Within the stories themselves, we have issues
with Jessica’s
pregnancy and its duration. Readers of Alias
know that she
was pregnant before Matt Murdock hired her as a
bodyguard. Readers of
Daredevil know that, therefore, she was
pregnant before Matt
spent a year taking back Hell’s Kitchen. Then, after
that year was
over, she was still pregnant. At this point, they
should have been
trying to figure out why her pregnancy was taking so
long. This
should have been a major concern for her. Then, in
issue 11 of
The Pulse, go goes into labour during her
sixth
month
of pregnancy. Seriously, how much effort
does it take to
keep track of this stuff? How many readers caught
this problem?
Bendis is good with character dialogue, but his
writing hasn’t blown
me away since they doubled his workload. I hope his
departure from
this and Daredevil will lead to a return to
his previous
quality on the titles he’s still working on. I think
it would help
him to focus on a smaller number of titles again.

The Scores

This doesn’t fell terribly original. With
the lack of
investigative reporting emphasis, we’re down to the
private life of a
superhero’s wife for most of the series. I read a lot
like that
reading 40
Years of the
Amazing Spider-Man
lately. There’s not much here
that sets it
apart from what we’ve seen there. This batch of
issues feels like a
perpetual tie-in to other titles. I give it 3 out of
6.

The artwork by Anderson wasn’t bad. I’ve
never been all that
thrilled with the work of Michael Gaydos. (I really
don’t like the
“copy and paste” style of art that leads to the
repeated panels.) I
give it 4 out of 6.

The story isn’t complete. As I said, it
reads like deleted
scenes. If this was the only Bendis title you read, I
don’t think
you’d be able to follow what was going on. This isn’t
a huge problem
in issue 6-10, since they centre around characters who
don’t know any
more than the readers do, but for issues 11-14, it’s a
major problem.
There are events and dialogue that directly tie into
what’s happening
in New Avengers, and there’s not enough
information here to
really follow what’s going on. It’s a nice
embellishment, but it
doesn’t stand on its own. I give it 3 out of 6.



The characterization is the strong suit, as
is usually the
case with a Bendis book. There’s a lot of thought her
about who these
characters are and what they’re thinking. This part
was nailed down
pat. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response was a bit frustrating.
Even if this
was the series I thought I was signing up for, the
revelation of
spoilers from other series and constant focus on a
rather depressed
character make this series something of a downer. I
give it 3 out of
6.

The flow was decent. It’s hard to mess this
up when there’s
so much conversation. Again, the biggest detriment
was the feeling
that this is a collection of deleted scenes. If you
aren’t reading
the main titles along with this, you’re going to get
bits and pieces
of story that don’t fill in all the holes. As its own
title, the flow
is going to be rotten because of this. The first of
two real issues with the
flow you’ll notice if you read the others is the lack
of connection
between Ben’s D-Man investigation and Jessica’s
delivery. The second
is that the series is over, but the story isn’t done.
If you want
further proof that this is a collection of deleted
scenes, you just
need to know that the final page of the final story
arc ends with “To
be continues…in New Avengers annual #1!” Yes, it’s
true; the end of
this series is going to be a part of a different comic
series! If the
series was being cancelled for poor sales (as with
The Lone
Gunmen
series finale on The X-Files in
the TV world) I
could somewhat accept that, but that’s not the case.
In Bendis’
concluding note, he says he just said what he needed
to say, and then
the series ended on him, much like Alias. If
he’d really
said what he needed to say, why is it continued? Why
is the story of
Jessica Jones jumping to yet another title?
(Bendis can’t
seem to let this character go. I’m concerned that
she’s going to
start dominating New Avengers, too.) I
give it 3
out of 6.

Overall, it’s a nice supplemental read to the
other Bendis
material out there, but if you’re not reading that,
then you shouldn’t
start with this. I give it 3 out of 6.

In total, The Pulse #6-14 receives 25 out of
42.