I always wind up forgiving Garth Ennis.
I know a lot of people don’t. I know a lot of people think that if it’s true that a writer puts their own personal experiences into their work, then Ennis has led the bloodiest, most disturbing, debauched and terrifying life in the history of ever. People die in horrible ways in his writing. People are raped, set on fire, tortured, have dead dogs welded to their faces. You never quite know what you’re going to get when you open one of his books and they can go from wildly funny to wildly offensive in the blink of an eye.
But they’re so damned entertaining.
His credits include the nine-volume, sacrilegious but strangely thoughtful Preacher, Hitman (the finally-being-reprinted misadventures of a super-powered Gotham City contract killer and friends), as well as The Boys, about a group of people charged with keeping a lecherous and amoral superhero community in line (or killing them trying), and Crossed.
I don’t actually quite know what Crossed is about. I opened up one of the issues to find out, and came across a panel where a man was being beaten with a dismembered horse penis. And then I closed it.
He also writes a myriad of very good, very realistic war comics, including a series entitled Battlefields; he did a wildly popular run on Punisher, and a long, very good run on Hellblazer.
Ennis’ work often features a few running themes: The average person on the street has the potential for great heroism, there’s nothing quite like a good love story, superheroes (unless they are Superman) are scum, and women are deadly.
Which is where his new comic from Dynamite comes in.
Jennifer Blood starts out with a pink fluffy diary and captions detailing the day’s entry. Jennifer Fellows is a housewife and mother on the go; she is the picture perfect domestic goddess. She does the shopping, and laments not checking to make sure the whites and darks were separated before letting her goofy, well-meaning husband do the laundry. She treats herself to mani/pedis and takes the car in for the repairs it needs.
And at night, after she’s crushed just a little Valium into her kids’ hot chocolate, and made sure her husband is asleep, she goes out and massacres criminals.
Yep. Turns out that this Jennifer Fellows woman has a past; before she married that goofy husband and popped out her cute kids, she was…something else. Something deadly, and capable of getting a very dirty job done.
Despite her painfully domestic life, that past is not buried, nor is there any evidence that she feels shame for it. We don’t have any details yet, though. She’s after five men she calls the “Uncles” but we don’t know why yet.
I, for one, can’t wait to find out. While I’m usually wary of male comic writers writing a female perspective, I think Ennis can pull it off. With the likes of Preacher’s Tulip and Hitman’s Deborah Tiegel under his belt, he’s got plenty of experience writing strong women. This is really the first book of his that’s focused his gritty worldview through a woman’s eyes, and it has the potential to be really good, especially if it keeps up the conversational, casual tone of the first issue.
In a way, Jennifer Blood feels a little like an apology. “Hey. Sorry about that horse’s penis. Enjoy!”
I’ll take it.