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Comic Book / The Pulse

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The Pulse is a fourteen-issue (April, 2004 - May, 2006) Marvel comic series by Brian Michael Bendis and several artists that continues the story of Jessica Jones from Alias. A short time after she told Luke Cage that she is pregnant with their child, Jessica is asked to talk with notorious anti-vigilante media hawk J. Jonah Jameson. Turns out the Daily Bugle isn't doing so hot and Jonah, even though he doesn't like the idea, is willing to give expanded coverage to the "superheroes" if it will save the paper he loves. To that end, he wants to hire Jessica as a "vigilante analyst", someone who can give insight into the goings-on of the superhuman activities that "The Pulse", as the new section will be called, is going to focus on.

Her first day on the job, however, is complicated by the murder of a new Bugle staffer at the hands of an unknown superhuman, and it doesn't really get any easier from there. The series primarily follows Jessica and Luke through the pregnancy, and also deals with the aftermath of the Nick Fury-led "Secret War". Like Alias, it focuses more on character development and storytelling than fights or action sequences, though it has several of those.

Tropes in this series:

  • Anachronic Order: A couple of issues involve heavy use of flashbacks to frame the story.
  • Badass Boast: Luke gets one when he goes after Norman Osborn.
    Luke: Come on out, Osborn!! You do not mess with Luke Cage's family!! Come on out!!
  • Berserk Button: If you try to hurt Jessica, Luke Cage will make certain you regret it.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A S.H.I.E.L.D. strike team led by Jessica's ex-boyfriend Clay Quartermain rescues her from a group of Hydra agents.
  • Blatant Lies: Norman Osborn's lawyer tries to pin the near-death of an entire group of NYPD officers and civilians on Spider-Man.
  • Break the Cutie: When Jessica thinks she's lost the baby after getting caught in an explosion, she's first enraged, then reduced to tears.
  • Bribe Backfire: A Hydra agent tries to buy Jessica off. It doesn't work. (Although Jessica still tries to keep the money anyway.)
    Jessica: This is a really big brick.
    Agent: Yes.
    Jessica: Then how am I going to shove it up your ass?
  • Broken Masquerade: Norman Osborn is finally revealed as the Green Goblin, in front of what seems like news crews from every newspaper and TV station in the city.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: In the first issue, Jessica agrees to give Jameson an exclusive on the birth of her and Luke's child as an unwritten clause of her contract with the Daily Bugle. In the penultimate issue, Jessica breaks the handshake deal and gives the exclusive to one of Jameson's competitors, in retaliation for his publishing a negative story on the Avengers offscreen, as the organization now includes Luke.
  • The Cameo: Spider-Man, Green Goblin, Nick Fury and Wolverine, among others.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: When Dr. Strange is trying to calm Jessica down before delivering her baby, Peter's attempt to lighten the mood gets literally every other person in the room to have this reaction.
    Dr. Strange: Jessica, I'm Dr. Stephen Strange. Its good to meet you. We're going to get through this. I was at the birth of the last Avengers baby.
    Spider-Woman: Oh yeah. The Scarlet Witch and The Vision.
    Spider-Man: And this has to go better than that did.
    *Spider-Woman & Captain America stare at him, Dr. Strange closes his eyes in an 'Oh good lord' way.*
    Spider-Man: Oh my God, that was so much more clever in my head before it came out of my mouth.
    Spider-Woman: I don't think it was.
    Dr. Strange: How about the rest of you wait in the library?
  • Express Delivery: But not to an extreme degree. Jessica's enhanced genetics mean that she ends up delivering a healthy, full-term baby at only six months.
  • Eye Colour Change: Norman's brown eyes changing to his Goblin-green eyes is what first makes Kidder realize something is very wrong.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Spider-Man points out that the only reason Norman Osborn/the Green Goblin still walks free is because the only way for him to blow Osborn's cover is to reveal his own secret identity, and "more people think I'm a murderer than him." Also lampshaded in the last issue's flashback to Jessica and Luke's first meeting: Luke advises Jessica to wait with him for the police to file a proper report rather than bailing, which Luke considers one of the reasons Spidey has such a bad reputation with the authorities.
  • Holding the Floor: Luke's proposal of marriage — and his reasons for it — covers five pages.
  • Hospital Gurney Scene: Issue #6 starts off with this.
  • Imagine Spot: Ben, Jessica and Kat try to think of who could have dropped Kidder into the bay. This ranges from the unlikely (Iron Man, Hulk) to the incredibly unlikely (Vulture) and the downright ludicrous (Stilt-Man).
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: When Janet Van Dyne is trying to design Luke's new outfit, most of them make his old yellow silk shirt look like an Armani suit.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Jessica and Luke have a minor argument — really more like a discussion — about her working for the Bugle, but the pregnancy throwing her hormones out of whack causes this.
  • Instant Birth: Just Add Labor!: Played with. When Jessica's water breaks, Carol is the one who panics and races her to a hospital, but it's implied to be at least a couple of hours before she delivers.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Freaking J. Jonah Jameson. The perennial media foe of all superheroes is willing to swallow his pride if it will help save his beloved paper, and beneath his Bad Boss exterior he has a Father to His Men attitude towards his journalists.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Well, holding onto more like, but Luke manages to contain the blast of a Goblin pumpkin-bomb with the only damage being to his clothing.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Pulse still has some serious moments (Jessica thinking she's miscarried, Luke's near-fatal wounding), but in general it's quite a bit less dark than Alias was.
  • Logical Weakness: Luke has unbreakable skin. This is good in a fight, not so good when he has internal injuries that can't be surgically repaired because of it.
  • Made of Iron: Comes up when Jessica is being examined after getting blasted by one of the Green Goblin's pumpkin-bombs and getting smashed in the back by his glider. Apparently her internal organs (including her uterus) are also superhumanly durable.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage:
    • In an inversion of the usual pattern, Jessica catches some flak for dating Luke from a black female nurse during the Red Skies Crossover with Secret War.
    • When proposing, Luke brings up this as just one reason why their relationship will attract attention.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Danny accuses Jessica of this after Luke is nearly killed because of the Secret War. Misty Knight quickly calls him out on it.
  • Missing Mom: Inverted; after never showing up in Alias (with the exception of a flashback), Jessica's adoptive mother finally shows up, first on the phone, and then at Jessica and Luke's wedding.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Although it took place in the Secret War event, this is where the consequences of Nick Fury's actions really began to come home, ending with him having to go on the run from the organization he used to lead.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The administrator of the hospital Jessica is taken to when she goes into labor blows a gasket when she finds out Jessica's there and demands that she be removed from the building despite being in active labor.
  • Pals with Jesus: Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich, who is about as normal as you can get, is on a real-identity basis with both Daredevil and Spider-Man.
  • Panicky Expectant Father: Luke gets slapped a variant of this when Jessica goes into labor while he's on the other side of town.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: While Jessica's out of the room calling Ben Urich after she and Luke are attacked by Lucia Von Bardas, Danny Rand sneaks Luke out of the hospital. Unfortunately, he doesn't tell Jessica he was going to do this.
  • Pregnant Badass: Jessica snaps and goes after the Green Goblin when she thinks he's caused her to have a miscarriage.
  • Red Skies Crossover: The second story arc of the series has Jessica and Luke get caught in the crossfire of the Secret War series, but little about it is actually explained (since it's, you know, secret).
  • Revealing Cover-Up: Norman Osborn strangles and dumps a reporter who is investigating two deaths. This quickly leads to him being publicly revealed as the Green Goblin.
  • Screaming Birth: Fully invoked. Jessica screams so loud that the reporters gathered outside Dr. Strange's house can hear her.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: HYDRA offers Jessica a substantial cash bribe to switch sides. Jessica comments that the bribe's physical size means it's going to be difficult to shove up the HYDRA operative's ass. Then Played for Laughs when she tries to keep the money afterwards anyway as payment for all the aggravation of the past few days.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: When Lucia attacks Luke, all Jessica sees is her standing in front of the setting sun.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Norman Osborn and Nick Fury both.
  • So Crazy, It Must Be True: When Ben is trying to convince Jonah of the reality behind the attempt on Luke's life and Nick Fury being on the outs with S.H.I.E.L.D., Jonah believes him as soon as the pieces fall into place.
  • Symbol Swearing: While Alias was published under the adult-oriented Marvel MAX imprint, meaning strong language was okay, The Pulse was not, and Bendis had to tone down the at-times foul-mouthed Jessica's dialogue accordingly.
  • Take That!:
  • The Unmasking: In a flashback, Jessica, as Knightress, takes her mask off in front of Luke and the cops so that she can take the Criminal of the Week's children home with her for the night until Child Services can come get them, lest they have to spend the night at the police station.
  • Wedding Finale: The series ends with Jessica and Luke getting married shortly after the birth of their daughter.
  • What If the Baby Is Like Me: Carol Danvers sets up a lunch date Q & A for Jessica with Sue Storm to assuage any concerns about the baby being "normal". Then it turns out this was the one thing Jessica hadn't been worrying about.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ben Urich calls out Spider-Man for not doing enough against Norman Osborn and letting Gwen's death and those of other victims go unavenged.
  • Where da White Women At?: Gender Flipped. Jessica gets lambasted for her and Luke's relationship by a black nurse.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Bugle reporter Terri Kidder uses a smokescreen about profiling Norman Osborn to get an interview with him and ask him about the disappearances of OsCorp personnel. Suffice to say this doesn't end well for her.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Terri Kidder's narration in the first issue points out in reference to her new digs at the Daily Bugle that "tabloid" properly refers to the medium of publication (a large magazine on newsprint), rather than being a negative description of the content or journalism.