Full disclosure: As a feminist, I jumped into this ready to hate it. Impossible female body proportions? Check. An oversexualized housewife with an unfathomable penchant for both pleasing her bland husband and seeking bloody vengeance? Check. A nubile Japanese school girl trope? Check. At first glance, Jennifer Blood has all the makings of a generic graphic thriller. And, yet, I absolutely loved this book. I was immediately drawn in. Ennis uses common comic book archetypes only to deconstruct and invert them.
Jennifer Blood centers around Jennifer Blood aka Jessica Blute. Blute is the perfect housewife by day. She is dedicated to her children, keeps her household spotless, and works ceaselessly to please her husband. And, yet, by night, Jennifer pours herself into a tight latex suit, grabs a few weapons from her secret artillery closet in the basement, and commits mass murders. With the ultimate goal of avenging the deaths of her parents. Jennifer ruthlessly hunts down those responsible (along with any innocent bystanders that happen to be in the way).
What begins as a run-of-the-mill vigilante story turns into a complex rumination on the inherent violence in humanity, gender roles in heteronormative relationships, privilege, family, honor, and identity. The reader watches as Jennifer slowly unravels; her crimes become sloppier, her relationship with her children becomes tainted, and the cracks in her marriage begin to show. What we find is that Jennifer may not want a perfect life, but simply the image of a perfect life. Ennis’ writing is stunning in that he is able to fully encapsulate and convey all of this to the reader. Simultaneously, Ennis’ story and writing mimic that of a revenge exploitation film. Character dialogue is fun, engaging, and witty, if not particularly realistic. And, like any true exploitation film, there is plenty of sex and violence.
This work is very specifically for an adult audience. Nudity, sexual violence, and gore are all heavily present throughout the comic. Though illustrated in beautiful, vibrant detail, imagery throughout the comic should be taken into consideration when providing reader advisory. For those readers not turned off by the content of the comic, any comic enthusiast will surely be able to appreciate Batista’s artwork. Batista has a knack for making even the most gruesome violence look absolutely gorgeous.
Jennifer Blood is an excellent recommendation for any graphic novel fan interested in crime thrillers, mystery, and the complexity of the relationship between antiheroes and villains. Additionally, Ennis, as the creator behind the acclaimed Preacher and The Boys comics, has a built-in fanbase that will surely look forward to seeing his new work in the library collection. Do not hesitate to add Jennifer Blood to the shelves of your public library’s adult graphic novel collection.
Jennifer Blood Omnibus Vol. 1
By Garth Ennis
Art by Adriano Batista, Marcos Marz, Kewbar Baal
Publisher Age Rating: 18+
Series Reading Order: https://www.goodreads.com/series/86888-jennifer-blood (Wikipedia or Goodreads)
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NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)