A Year of Cool Comics – Day 2
Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!
Today we look at Brian Michael Bendis’ Jinx!
Did you know that Brian Michael Bendis just recently celebrated ten years of working at Marvel Comics? There was a whole special trade paperback by Marvel celebrating the occasion (while I’m at it, Tom Brevoort just recently celebrated TWENTY years working at Marvel! Congrats, Tom!).
I mention this only to note how odd it is, then, to think back to the time when Bendis was mostly doing stuff like Jinx. I remember the time and how much of a…I don’t know exactly how to put it, but it was almost like he was a hidden talent. The guy you knew was a good writer, but no one else did. And when you discover a comic book writer (or a band or an actor or, well, anything) that way, they’re never going to have that same charm that they had for you when they were “undiscovered.” That really has nothing to do with the quality of Jinx, I just mention it because that’s one of the first things I think of when I think of Jinx.
The next thing I think of, naturally, is “Man, that was a cool comic book.”
Jinx is about a bounty hunter named Jinx Alameda who gets involved with a con man named David Gold (who starred in Bendis’ earlier series, which was named after Gold’s nickname – AKA Goldfish) and, unsurprisingly, complications ensue.
Now I happen to enjoy Bendis’ artwork – I think he manages to use photo-realistic artwork mixed with shadows to good effect, particularly where (like most of his early work) he is going for a noir feel. However, it is pretty clear that the artwork by Bendis is mostly a delivery system for his writing, which is the clear star of the comic.
All of what we have grown used to over the years from Bendis’ writing style is at work here, especially the David Mamet-esque dialogue.
But also at play is the impressive work Bendis puts into developing the characters, especially Jinx, who is a very well-rounded heroine.
The series originally appeared in a few issues at Caliber, then a few issues at Image. The collected edition is truly the “definitive” edition, and that’s what I’m using for samples of the work.
Here is an introduction to Jinx at work…
And here is an exchange between Jinx and Goldfish (he sees her at a diner and then calls the diner and asks for her, and they begin to talk)…
There is nominally a plot (essentially an homage to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly) about Goldfish and his grifter friend, Columbia (who is modeled after Bendis himself) discovering the whereabouts of $3,000,000 in cash, but each man only has part of the information leading to the cash, so they have to work together, but Jinx also sees this as a chance to get out the bounty hunting business. Add in Columbia’s paranoia and Jinx and Goldfish becoming more involved, you have yourself a plot.
I say “nominally” because the work is really all about the characterizations, and the plot is really more a way to deliver set pieces where Bendis can have characters interact with each other – really quite similar to a play.
It’s a great, multi-layered work that holds up well more than a decade later.