Jessica Jones #1,
Brian Michael Bendis, Mcihael Gaydos, Matt Hollingsworth,
One of this week’s new Marvel Now! series was a welcome return for Jessica Jones, our former superhero turned private detective with bad attitude and a mess of a life that still keeps getting tangled up with the capes and tights scene, no matter how she tries to avoid it. Probably doesn’t help that she’s had a relationship with Luke Cage. And a child.
As this new series opens – I notice now titled “Jessica Jones” rather than “Alias” as it used to be (which back in the day confused me as I thought it related to the TV series of the same name, before I had gotten into it) – Jessica is even lower down than usual; in fact she’s in the clink. Luckily for her she is just about to get out of jail, although when she asks who bailed her out the guards reply that this is the sort of prison you are either in or out, there is no regular bail, leaving the whys of her release a mystery. The boat from the prison island isn’t there when she is released so in typical impatient and pissed-off Jessica style she uses one of her super-jumps to leap back to the city.
And misses slightly. Fishing herself soaking wet and bedraggled out of the harbour she thinks “so close. Story of my life”. Missed by inches. And naturally this happens in front of a crowd of gawkers, for added humiliation factor. Home, back to Alias Investigations, shower, change, ignore the many messages left for her. Until one comes in the person of Misty Knight and her robotic arm, banging the door open and yelling at Jess “where’s the baby?”. After bandying some words and a bit of mutual bad-girl posturing Knight tries to intimidate Jess by punching her with her robotic arm. And fails as Jess grabs it, wallops her back then drags her bodily out of her office and throws her out, a rare moment of Jess in charge and on top (and pleasing to watch). “Didn’t know – coff – you were that strong,” mutters a defeated Knight. “No-one ever does,” replies Jessica.
A much-needed case turns up for the newly freed Jessica and she needs it and the money, but it’s an odd one – aren’t they usually for her? – a woman wanting to investigate her husband. Not the usual is my spouse cheating on me, oh no, this woman has a husband who suddenly one day told her he doesn’t know her, he had a whole other life with another wife and children then woke up in their house seemingly married to her. Going mad? Parallel dimension? Mind control? Reality of the Marvel universe being re-shaped? Against her better judgement Jess takes the case.
It’s terrific to see Bendis and Gaydos back with their intriguing, off the wall creation, especially after such a long gap and the recent TV incarnation. Jessica Jones is one of the more unusual characters in the superhero world, part and apart at the same time, and as with the original series (see here for a review of the recently reprinted first volume of Alias) one of the most compelling elements here is the way Bendis and Gaydos craft a character who seems so real and everyday. Yes, there is the fantastic, there are the powers, but Jessica always feels like an actual person in an actual world and as such it is much easier to relate to her and empathise with her (and to care about her when she is being so self-destructive, as she often can be). That extends to the art too, of course, both Gaydos’ interior art and Mack’s lovely cover artwork. Both artists give us a powerful, attractive woman who doesn’t wear some cleavage-revealing tiny costume, or have legs twice the length they should be, she wears regular clothes, she looks like a real woman you would see in the city streets, and this is no bad thing in a world where depictions of some super-powered female characters can be more than a little dodgy.
The cameos of other superheroes, such as Spider-Woman (who tries to bond via both being mums) are nicely handled, and the subject of the child is one that isn’t going away and looks like it is the hot topic for a bunch of the superhero community, especially a certain Mr Cage. .. If you enjoyed the original series and have been itching to see Bendis and Gaydos return to Jones then this should be straight up your street, and if you are relatively new to the character, coming to her via the TV show, you should still be able to jump into this first issue of the new series, although I’d still recommend going back to the original volumes as those are some damned fine comics.