By popular demand, It’s Jeff!, the Marvel Infinity comic that launched in September of 2021, has finally been printed in a physical comic. Plotted by writer Kelly Thomson and illustrated by art duo Gurihiru, It’s Jeff! follows the breakout character of Thompson’s West Coast Avengers run, Jeff the Land Shark, as he has day-to-day misadventures in the Marvel Universe. The beauty of It’s Jeff! is its simplicity, as Jeff never finds himself tangled in plots of world domination or collapsing dimensions. He has more mundane problems, like staying cool in a heat wave and trying not to scare away potential friends, and he always solves these issues in the most adorable ways possible. Oh, and there are almost no words in these strips, with the exception of Jeff’s animal noises and certain characters channeling their inner Jon Arbuckle by yelling Jeff’s name when he’s in trouble. It’s a truly glorious comic, and it’s no surprise that Marvel has put out similar Marvel Unlimited comics about cute, goofy animals, like Nao Fuji’s Marvel Meow and Alyssa Wong and Bob Quinn’s Alligator Loki (both series feature issues that prominently feature Jeff).
This single issue features “Season One” of It’s Jeff!, which is the first batch of 12 strips that were released back in 2021. Additionally, this collection includes two bonus It’s Jeff! strips that have not been released on Marvel Unlimited. The first one, “Spider-Maid”, was first shown at the SDCC “Women of Marvel” panel last year and later posted on Thompson’s Substack. The other one, “Jeff World Tour”, is 100% brand-new and exclusive to this issue. It’s a wonderful excuse to pick up this issue even if you already have a Marvel Unlimited subscription. Not that you really need an excuse, because these days digital media can disappear at a moment’s notice, so it’s always good to have a physical copy of your favorite stories (that said, if It’s Jeff! gets pulled from Marvel Unlimited for a tax write-off, I personally promise that there will be blood).
Speaking of the origins of It’s Jeff! as a digital comic, it’s worth noting that the original strips were released as “Infinity Comics” on Marvel Unlimited, meaning that they were designed specifically to be viewed when scrolling on a phone or tablet. The artwork of the Infinity Comics is often arranged in the form of very long, vertical images made for mobile devices. I’ve seen Marvel try to adapt regular existing comics into the Infinity Comics format, and the result has been… not good. However, if It’s Jeff! is anything to go off of, the “Infinity Comic to traditional floppy” transition works much better (I haven’t checked out either of the X-Men Unlimited collections that do this yet). I don’t know who to credit with figuring out where to break up the images and how to arrange them on the page, but they did a phenomenal job. Obviously, the original way that these comics were presented is always going to be the definitive way they were meant to be read, but as far as alternatives go, it’s not bad. Some of the panels in the physical issue feel a little bit too small on the pages, but ultimately this is a pretty minor gripe. Talking about “It’s Jeff! on Marvel Unlimited vs It’s Jeff! in a collected edition” feels a bit like a “subs vs dubs in anime” comparison. Yes, one form of the story retains a certain authenticity to it, but the other makes it so much more open and accessible. At the end of the day, they’re still the same comic with the same adorable Gurihiru illustrations in them.
Well, they’re almost the same comic. I caught something interesting in the print version of It’s Jeff! The “Jeffsgiving” strip restores two panels that had previously been cut from the original digital release. It sort of feels like scenes in the extended cuts of movies: it’s interesting to know extra scenes were filmed, but ultimately the scenes were deleted for a reason, and the narrative flows better without them. However, in this case, it’s not a scene: just two brief panels. Really it’s not that big of a deal, but I can easily point to the original and say “that one works better”.
Overall, I highly recommend It’s Jeff! #1. I’ve been a fan of Jeff since he was simply referenced as “a baby land shark” adopted by Gwenpool in the solicits for West Coast Avengers #8 (released before his cameo debut in issue #6 and proper introduction in issue #7). In other words, I’m a die-hard fan of the little guy, and I regularly turn to his solo strips to cheer myself up when I’m feeling low. Jeff is the greatest source of joy in my life, like the son I never had, and this issue is an important step in his growing popularity. Through this collection, more people will have Jeff in their lives and be happier because of it. And who knows? Maybe if it sells well enough, we’ll get physical copies for Season 2 (available now on Marvel Unlimited) and the upcoming Season 3? Maybe eventually there will be a Jeff the Land Shark omnibus featuring West Coast Avengers, Thompson’s Deadpool run, It’s Jeff!, and all the other comics that the little dude has been featured in. It’s a dream, but so was the physical release of It’s Jeff! just a few years ago. Only time will tell what’s in store for everyone’s favorite land shark.