REVIEW OF PEARL #1

Jinxworld/ DC Comics

October 2018

 

After more than a decade of working exclusively with Marvel Comics, Brian Michael Bendis’s move to rival DC Comics earlier this year proved to be a seismic shift in the pop culture landscape. Bendis not only had a massive impact on the four-color pages of Marvel comics with lengthy runs on Daredevil, the Avengers, and Ultimate Spider-Man, but also the creation of the Miles Morales Spider-Man and ex-super-hero/current PI Jessica Jones. But while Bendis was creating havoc with Marvel’s company-owned characters, he was also continuing his love of crime stories in the pages of his creator-owned Jinxworld line. Indeed, JINX, GOLDFISH, TORSO, and POWERS are some of the finest crime stories ever. Be it graphic novel or prose. So when DC lured Bendis to their hallowed halls, much of the buzz consisted of “When will Bendis write Batman?” and,  “What about Jinxworld?”

As it turned out, Bendis turned to Superman first. And PEARL is the first title in the all-new Jinxworld line.

As promised in big, bold type on the cover of the book, PEARL reunites the creative dream team of Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos, the team responsible for Jessica Jones. Gaydos’s expressive, painted work immediately gives the book a cinematic feel that sets the book apart from anything else on the stands. The book opens with a four panel page, starting with an extreme close up of a spider. As the view zooms out, it turns out the spider is actually a spider tattoo on the wrist of our lead character, Pearl. Pearl is a visualy striking albino woman, based off of credited model Exotik Alek. As Pearl and her new admirer Rick discuss tattoo culture (Warning: there is A LOT of tattoo talk in this book.) they’re suddenly caught in the crossfire of a Yakuza gunfight. This is especially jarring and needed after much tattoo exposition, and Bendis and Gaydos give us one of the most visually striking, cinematically portrayed battles ever.

After the fight, Pearl is revealed to be more than she appears to be, and she becomes hopelessly tangled in the machinations of the San Francisco crime families. Her “negotiations” with crime boss Mr. Mike are especially chilling.  Needless to say, “tattoo-artist Pearl” is now “tattoo-artist/mob enforcer Pearl.” And like that, our story is off and running.

PEARL #1 was a great first issue. After months of Bendis getting comfortable with the DC stable of super-heroes, it felt great reading a new crime story from two true masters of the form. Bendis and Gaydos give readers another fantastic leading lady, and the San Francisco location provides tons of story material to mine. New York is always a great location. But the West Coast has such a unique vibe. It will be great getting to see the City by the Bay every month. Only time will tell if Pearl captures the cultural zeitgeist in the same way that Jessica Jones did, but PEARL is unique and stands well apart from ALIAS. Crime fiction fans should rejoice that there is a new and unique story taking shape by two creators at the top of their game.

As a Thank You to the fans, Bendis has included a reprint of his first ever DC work in this issue. CITIZEN WAYNE was originally printed way back in The Batman Chronicles #21. This is a fun story and the gesture to the fans is much appreciated.

 

Dan Malmon