Monday, September 27, 2010

The Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Jackpot by Marc Guggenheim and Adriana Melo

Sarah Ehret never asked to be given superhuman powers, but she ended up with them anyway. For a short time, she was a superhuman vigilante, then gave it up, and gave her costume to a friend, who wished to take her place. But her friend, Alana, had no powers and was overwhelmed and killed by enemies Sarah had made on her brief rampage, sending Sarah into a tailspin.

But now Sarah is back, with advice and help from Spiderman, and is back to shaking up the criminal underworld, starting with the super-criminal, Boomerang. She knocks him down, but she knows when she is outclassed, and after a short fight with him and a couple of goons, she makes like a leaf and blows the joint... but not without a piece of biological evidence she found in a crate near the firefight.

After that, she goes home, where her husband finds her in her costume, trying to hide in the shower, but he's turned on, and it all turns out well for her.

At work, she discovers that the thing in the vial she recovered was an eccrine gland, or sweat gland, which confuses both her and the colleague she had identify it. She also thinks back to the origin of her powers, how she came into contact with a compound that was being developed to fight Parkinsons. She was pregnant at the time, and spent the last four months of her pregnancy in a coma. But when she woke up and had her child, she also got super-strength out of the deal.

Unfortunately for Sarah, the eccrine gland was part of a shipment of a drug named Ebony that was intended for a crime-lord called The Rose, and thanks to her fingerprints being on the grappling hook she embedded in Boomerang's chest, he now knows who she is, and all about her family.

Sarah goes all over town, working alone or with Spiderman, trying to find out about the eccrine gland. But no one seems to know anything, and all she does find is a new street drug called "Ebony".

Meanwhile, Sarah takes the eccrine gland to Reed Richards, who tells her that he's seen one of these before. Daredevil brought it in, but it had been compromised by being "cooked" by a villain called Owl. Owl wanted to try to turn the eccrine gland into a super-drug, which is possible because it came from a villain called the Corrupter, whose sweat exudes psychoactive compounds.

But Sarah doesn't realize that the Rose is onto her, and her relentless questioning of underworld mooks is making her a target. When Boomerang comes to the door during dinner and cuts her husband down. Sarah is devastated and after beating up Boomerang with one of his own boomerangs, she takes shelter with Reed Richards and his wife. But Sarah wants revenge on the people who killed her husband, but how far will she go to get it?

I liked this graphic novel. Jackpot is a completely new character, one who is still getting used to the life of a superhero. And while she may end being angsty!heroine because of her husband's death, by the end of the book, we see that she may heal from even that.

I did have to wonder about her daughter. Given that she was pregnant when she got her powers, and that the mother and fetus share blood during pregnancy, it seems almost certain that her daughter will also exhibit powers. But whether they will be the same or different than those of her mother, and how early she will get them- well, there's the rub. She might get them at puberty, or she might even develop them earlier, depending on what happens to her. We'll surely see soon.

I found this an interesting and refreshing book. Jackpot seems to be a low-level hero, but not everyone can be Captain America or Wolverine. I liked reading her struggles with superheroism and hazards of the job, and I definitely wanted to see more of her. Recommended.

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