By Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, Matt Hollingsworth, David Mack, and Cory Petit.
Finally, after The Pulse we get to catch up with Jessica Jones. Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, and the rest of the creative team are back together to bring us Jessica Jones #1. This issue really puts the readers right in the middle of the chaos surrounding Jessica’s life and the book keeps that same hectic, urgent pace cover to cover. Bendis’ earnest and gritty depiction of Jones as an average person coping with extreme circumstances hits close to home for most readers, but it’s the art from Gaydos, Hollingsworth, and Petit throughout the book that give this story real charm to help it stand out on a book shelf.
Jessica Jones has always been presented as a real person with flaws and insecurities, like drinking a little too much and cursing, but always trying to do the right thing. Her character was introduced in a MAX series from Marvel originally, meaning it was only intended for adult audiences, and lucky for us Marvel has continued the parental advisory for this current series. We need the vulgarity of one-night stands between superheroes, and real conversations around depression and mental illness to be prevalent in comics. As comic readers get older they need to see some growth from their heroes, our heroes cannot stay static or they lose the relatable factor. This is something you won’t have to worry about with Jessica Jones. Bendis has pushed her through growth rather harshly during our short time with her, and Jessica Jones #1 is no exception.
We encounter Jessica at a new low point in her life; she is in jail. Specifically, she is being held for something we can assume is related to the events in Civil War II, but then just when you think her luck is going to change, BAM! the other shoe drops and it drops right on poor miss Jones’s face. People are coming to her for information, and we do not know what Jessica is hiding or whom she is hiding it from. Bendis does a tremendous job nodding to her original MAX series, while also keeping the story tied into major events happening in the Marvel landscape that make Jessica Jones feel relevant and also important. There are major cameos from some big Marvel names like Spider-Woman Jessica Drew that help to encourage readers to bridge relationships with some better known characters with Miss Jones. If she is important enough to have voicemails from Carol Danvers, she is important enough to have the reader’s investment.
There is also something so satisfying with the art style that is expected with this character. The creative team picks up right where they left off in Alias and we get to see the whimsical watercolor covers from Mack and pages filled with Gaydos’ distinct heavy lined style colored by Hollingsworth’s bleak, drab palette. Seeing Jessica Jones depicted from other creative teams like Sanford Greene and David Walker in the current Power Man and Iron Fist series never felt right to her character, which was created by Bendis and Gaydos. When Jessica Jones is designed by a creative team to look traditionally beautiful and together, it takes away from her charm and likability. She does best when she looks like she is not all together and making it up as she goes. Jessica Jones #1 continues to show the rapport that exists between this creative team as we get seamless art and writing that weaves through a story with character reaction panels that tell just as much story as any dialogue or narration.
This is not a comic book for everyone, in fact, it is a book some people would not enjoy simply because this is not your average Marvel comic where the bad guys lose and the good guys win. Jessica Jones #1 is a nuanced and mature book with themes that are relevant and applicable to an adult’s life. This first issue is setting up a complicated and delicate scenario between Jessica Jones and several other characters from the Marvel Universe that will surely get more complex as it unfolds. If you are looking for an escape from reality, then look elsewhere because what this creative team give us is a mirror with a more accurate reflection of modern-day life than most current comic books.