Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the comic store… Marvel’s most adorable character has returned to shelves to overwhelm you with his cuteness. Ever since the first twelve issues of Kelly Thompson and Gurihiru’s hit Infinity Comic It’s Jeff! were compiled into a physical one-shot of the same name, it was basically a given that the second twelve-issue batch would eventually get the same treatment. Now, the misadventures of Jeff the Land Shark continue in It’s Jeff!: The Jeff-Verse #1. Don’t let the issue number or extended title confuse you though, this is essentially “It’s Jeff! #2”, but Marvel seems confident that “#1” issues sell better, so here we are.
The 13th to 24th installments of It’s Jeff! are already some of my favorite comics of all time and the “second season” is the point when an already perfect comic became even better: fan-favorite Gwenpool finally got reunited with Jeff. We also start to get two-part storylines, including “Jeff Pets”, which sees Jeff assemble a team of Marvel’s most iconic critters to liberate a neglectful pet store. Every one of these stories instantly makes me smile, and my camera roll on my phone is filled to the brim with screenshots of Gurihiru’s adorable art, like Jeff being full of fireflies or Jeff growing so big that he breaks Avengers Tower in half.
It’s Jeff!: The Jeff-Verse continues the tradition of these physical editions including an exclusive story. This one is “Midnight Snack”, which sees Jeff receive a gigantic fish, only to discover that (Arnold Schwarzenegger voice) “IT’S NOT A TUNA!!” This tale’s only two pages, but it’s a welcome addition to Jeff’s many silly misadventures.
The big appeal of these stories is their simplicity. They don’t require you to know a bunch of continuity or lore, which can’t be said of most mainstream superhero comics. Heck, you don’t really even need to be able to read to comprehend It’s Jeff!, thanks to the comic’s nearly-wordless visual storytelling. It has a sort of genius universal appeal to it, with Thomson’s scripting bringing an incredible sense of comedic timing.
Like with the first collection, this is a reformatting of a digital Infinity Comic, which was originally designed for mobile devices around a scrolling feature. Once again, the translation from app to page is remarkably faithful, but it’s not exactly the same as reading it the way it was originally released. The biggest difference is that certain big, fun beats are compressed into smaller panels, which gives them a lot less emphasis. Also, I noticed a panel that was removed to create space: one in “Jeff the Ingenious” where a dog begs for a hotdog before a vendor tosses it to him. The vendor actually tossing the hotdog to the dog is still in there and the scene makes perfect sense without that extra bit of context, but if you’re a completionist who wants to see 100% of the art that Gurihiru made for It’s Jeff!, I’d recommend reading it in both formats.
It’s Jeff!: The Jeff-Verse #1 is essential for die-hard Jeff fans, while simultaneously being very welcoming to readers who are unfamiliar with Jeff, or even the Marvel Universe as a whole. He’s a delightful little character, and I think that this comic has a little something for everyone. Go out and treat yourself to this one as soon as possible.