Another View: Jennifer Blood Vol 5: Blood Legacy

A review that covers collections, hardcovers and graphic novels that feature the work of Irish creators.

Jennifer Blood Vol 5: Blood Legacy (collects Jennifer Blood issues 25 – 36)

Written by Michael Carroll
Art by Eman Casallos and Kewber Baal
Covers by Mike Mayhew

Jennifer Blood first hit stands in 2011. My best friend is a bit of a Garth Ennis fan (largely due to his Punisher work) so, when I heard Garth was writing the book, I made him aware of it. He checked it out but bailed after a few issues as he lost interest and that was the end of my interest too. Leap forward a couple of years and I was attending a Laydeez do Comics Event where Michael Carroll was giving a very entertaining talk on his work. I knew about his Judge Dredd work and his YA series of books but it was only on that day that I discovered that he had come on board as writer of Jennifer Blood. Intrigued by what he would do with the book (especially after hearing him talking about it), I started collecting the series. I was really impressed with the depth he added to a character that came across as a bit one dimensional to me. Sadly, his run was relatively short lived but he managed to tell a story that had a satisfying conclusion collected in Jennifer Blood Vol 5: Blood Legacy.
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“Every comic book is someone’s first” – Stan Lee

I was a bit worried that I might be a bit lost jumping on board with Michael Carroll’s first issue which was 25. This quickly faded as Michael manages to fill us all in on Jennifer’s story and in a way that doesn’t come across as too much exposition. Michael was left with Jennifer being in prison and severely injured by another prisoner so he created a scene where the prison board is discussing her case history and the problems that the incident would cause them. This enables a new reader to catch up on the story and familiarise themselves with the character. The first arc is all about Jennifer dealing with prison and the possibility of escape. However, it was also about Jennifer and her family. The prison bring in psychiatrists to talk to her but all she wants to talk about is her children. The arc could have come across as a bit dialogue heavy with such a situation but she also has to deal with the other prisoners “testing her” which leads to a lot of physical confrontations. Michael also adds depth to the story with a subplot of a group of rich hunters that will become more important in a later arc. I liked the first arc as it gave me a reason to pull for the main character (she just wants her kids back) and redeemed the book after my negative preconceptions. I am a fan of using a subplot to build future issues as it adds a layer of depth.

“I wanted to keep the focus on Jen’s character for the first part of the story because I felt it was important that she deal with the loss of her kids.” – Michael Carroll, Michael Carroll on Jennifer Blood
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The next arc ramps up the tension as the story moves from a prison drama to convict on the run. It really sucks you in as you wonder how she is going to escape from various situations. It deals with the hunters from subplot and brings in some interesting people to chase her. The arc ends with quite a cliffhanger that Michael Carroll interestingly decides keep over the reader’s head for an entire other arc as he took the daring step of pretty much taking the main character out of the book. It is all about the influence Jennifer has on other women around the world from a women left widowed due to her actions all the way across the Atlantic to a woman in Dublin who just nows her from what she has seen on TV. They are all dealing with difficult situations that come straight from the real world. I particularly liked the Irish story with the choice of victim reminding you that anyone could be one and not to take things at face value. The issue that covers her story is my favourite from the collection. It was kind of a risk to take the action away from Jennifer but the story really says a lot about her character at the same time.

“Jumping to a completely new set of characters allowed me to show a very different aspect of Jen’s overall story: she’s not actually present for those tales, but her presence is felt. I wanted to show that she’d unwittingly become an icon, even though it was for negative reasons.” – Michael Carroll, Michael Carroll on Jennifer Blood

The last arc brings the book to a satisfying conclusion as we get a resolution of both the cliffhanger and, the overall theme of the book, the story of her children but not with out the odd twist and turn along the way. What I like about this volume is that it could easily have become a female Punisher story. This is not necessarily a bad thing but these things often become a pale imitation of the original. Instead it became a more human story. There’s nothing more human than a mother’s love for her children.

WHERE CAN I FIND THIS BOOK?

The issues are all available on Comixology and the collection is available on Amazon and at all good comic shops.