It’s no coincidence that the success of Netflix’s Jessica Jones series has led Marvel to give her a new ongoing comic book series. The real surprise here is that both of Jessica’s co-creators, Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos reunited on the new title nearly 15 years after they introduced her in Alias. (The comic book, Alias. Not the TV show of the same name.)
A lot has changed for Jessica over the last decade-and-a-half, most of it under Bendis’ pen when he was still writing the New Avengers title. How can the Jessica of today’s Marvel Universe recapture the essence of what made her a breakout character? It turns out that Bendis’ solution was to strip Jessica of her marriage, and possibly her child. Even by the end of the issue, we don’t know how and why things went so bad for Jess, but it sure looks like she’s on the outs with Luke Cage and most of her friends in the Avengers.
Bendis and Gaydos essentially dropped readers into the middle of their story, and they only explained the minimum amount necessary. For example, we don’t know why Jessica was apparently thrown into a special jail for superhumans. But by the time we have a chance to question it, she’s already been released.
This book may not be called Alias anymore, but it appears that Jessica is once again acting as a private investigator. There’s a very extended conversation between Jessica and one of her prospective clients that plays to Bendis’ strength as a writer. Sometimes, Bendis’ character voices get a little jumbled together, but here, he painted a vocal portrait of a woman desperate to learn if her husband has gone insane, or if his claims about his real life have some basis in reality. In the real world, the husband would most likely be disturbed. But in the Marvel Universe, it’s not as easy to dismiss the possibility that there are some alternate reality or time travel shenanigans that are causing problems for an otherwise ordinary couple. That’s a very intriguing premise.
However, the case is secondary to Jessica herself. It is a lot of fun to see her back in action, even if she doesn’t quite have the same edge that she did in her original run. There’s some minor swearing in the issue, but it feels a little tame, even though it does come with one of Marvel’s rare “not for kids!” warnings.
If we didn’t know that Gaydos drew these pages within the last year, we’d swear that this was a lost story from his original run. Gaydos’ style isn’t for everyone, but he is the definitive Jessica Jones artist. It just wouldn’t be the same book without him. Gaydos’ action scenes aren’t flashy, but there was a fun moment when Jessica was confronted by a very angry heroine who was a friend of the family before Jess apparently burned her bridges. However, Gaydos’ best pages capture Jessica’s reactions to her new situation and to the craziness that still inhabits her life. Despite everything she’s lived through, Jessica still carries herself as an outsider. That’s always a compelling lens to view this world through.
We’re admittedly quite curious to discover how Jessica blew up her life, considering how angry nearly everyone is at her. Bendis and Gaydos have torn her back down to a nearly pre-Alias state. But the fun will be seeing Jessica slowly crawl her way out of this hole that she’s created for herself.
RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
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Images: Marvel Comics