Title: The Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Jackpot #1 (of 3)
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Pencils: Adriana Melo
Inks: Mariah Benes
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewed By: Ironmuskrat
Who the hell is Jackpot? That was the question running through my head as I wandered aimlessly through my local comic store this week. Apparently Marvel seemed to have the same worries, since they made it a point to slap “The Amazing Spider-Man Presents” on the cover to make sure people knew she had something to do with everyone’s favorite web-slinger. In the interest of full disclosure, I have never been a big Spider-Man collector. I like the character, but I have never been a faithful follower of any of his many titles. So the fact I wouldn’t know a character from one of his books is no real surprise, but I was curious as to why she rated being given her own miniseries.
The main reason I picked up the comic was the striking resemblance Jackpot had to certain DC heroines, like the new Batwoman and The Huntress. I was thinking this was an attempt by Marvel to sponge a little off the success of Detective Comic’s Batwoman this year. Jackpot certainly appeared to be a composite of the two DC characters. Did she have a similar history and personality as well? Of course, all of this speculation was just based on the cover art of the book and I could have been totally wrong, but it sparked my curiosity enough to pay the money and pick up the book.
To my relief, writer Marc Guggenheim spends the first five or six pages of the book catching readers up on the story of Jackpot, which turns out to be a little more complex and involved then I expected. As it turns out there have been two women that have fought crime as Jackpot. The original Jackpot, Sara Ehret, actually has super-powers. She completed her Initiative training and became a registered superhero by the U.S. government before she realized that she had no desire to actually be a superhero. Sara just wanted a normal life with her family and gave up on the whole hero business to be with her husband and daughter. The second Jackpot was Alana Jobson, who had discovered Sara Ehret secret identity. Alana offered Sara a deal to buy the Jackpot persona from her so she could be a hero that actually wanted to fight crime. Sara agreed to the deal and soon Alana was off fighting crime and attracting the attention of Spider-Man, who became infatuated with her. Sadly, Alana was just a normal person with no superpowers and had gained her abilities by taking Mutant Growth Hormones. Despite Spider-Man’s attempts to stop her from taking the drugs, Alana eventually dies from the effects of hormones.
Spider-Man discovers the deal that Alana had made with Sara Ehret and goes to confront her. As we all know Peter Parker can be kind of a sanctimonious asshole when it comes to being a hero and he lets Sara know he blames her for the death of Alana because she didn’t take responsibility for her powers and let someone who wasn’t super-powered take her place and pay the price with her life. Sara isn’t having any of Spider-Man’s “with great powers, come great responsibility” speech and tell him to get lost. But the damage is done, Spider-man had left just enough guilt in Sara mind that she decides to once again give crime fighting another go.
The first issue of the miniseries is mostly back-story, covering everything from how Sara got her superpowers(lab accident) and filling readers in on her family life and current crime fighting efforts. I have to say there isn’t a lot of terribly original stuff here. The reluctant hero storyline has been done many times before and the lab accident powers origin has been done too to many time to count, but the story worked for me mostly due to the efforts of Marc Guggenheim. Guggenheim makes Sara Ehret a very compelling heroine, someone who doesn’t really want to fight crime, but does so despite that. She doesn’t enjoy it at all, there is no wisecracks, no showboating and no looking for glory or fame in her style. Sara just wants to go take down a few bad guys once in awhile and then go home to her family. She is really nothing like Greg Rucka’s Batwoman, you could almost say she is the polar opposite of Batwoman, at least at this point in time. Sara is very cautious in her crime fighting duties, almost to the point of being a bit cowardly. OK, maybe coward is a bit too strong, but she certainly has a good grasp of her limitations and goes out of her way not to get into confrontations that she feels she cannot handle. Jackpot sticks to fighting low level street crime and normal criminals, activity avoiding super villains.
The main confrontation in the book is Jackpot finally running into a super villain during one of her investigations. Boomerang shows up while she is taking down some criminals in a warehouse and the results are not pretty for Jackpot as she barely manages to escape with her life. Jackpot returns home from this brush with death and is confronted by her husband. This leads to my favorite part of the book, so a quick quiz out there for husbands.
Question: Your superhero wife returns home after a long night of fighting crime. You notice that she has a huge slash on her neck from fighting a crazed maniac with razor sharp boomerangs. After seeing this you:
A) Take your wife to hospital.
B) Remind her she has a young daughter and it may not be the best idea to fighting dangerous super villains.
C) Tease her about getting her ass kicked and then try to have sex with her while she is still wearing her costume for a little cosplay action.
If you answered “C” you are my hero and you are also correct.
Unfortunately for Jackpot and her horny husband, she make a rookie mistake that leads to Boomerang discovering her secret identity, information he relays to his boss The Rose. It isn’t looking good for Jackpot or her family in the next issue. I really hope nothing bad happens to them, I kind of like her husband, I want to have a drink with the guy and listen to him talk about all the freaky stuff he does with his super powered wife.
What can I say, I really enjoyed this book, I came into it with zero expectations and found myself really liking the characters. The art by Adriana Melo is very good, much better than I would expect from a miniseries like this. Often in a short series like this you can see a B-level effort the art or writing, but Guggenheim and Melo bring their A game to this book and make it feel like an established comic.
Is Jackpot Marvel’s answer to Batwoman? No, not by a long shot but there is some potential here for the character to fill a role in the Marvel Universe as a detective/crime fighter in the same mold as Batwoman or Daredevil. I don’t now that I would pay money to see her in a regular series(not at $3.99), but as a occasional guest star in a Spider-Man or some other comic she might get my attention.