Jessica Jones #6
During this issue, both Carole Danvers and Jessica Jones must answer the question: “What are you willing to sacrifice in order to, potentially, save the world from a devastating crime?” For Carole, this question is one that she has had to wrestle with a great deal lately. This is, in large part, due to her involvement in the Civil War II Marvel Event. Although Jessica has played a smaller role in the Marvel Universe of late, it is also a question that she has wrestled with throughout her life. Ironically, it is the one thing that she previously had been unwilling to give up, her family, that she risks losing the most here. Brian Michael Bendis who, along with artist Michael Gaydos, helped create Jessica Jones, begins the issue by flashing back to the first meeting between Carole and Jessica, at this point going by her Super Hero name, Jewel. Although set during a more innocent time, the words coming out of Jessica Jones’ mouth, as she throws Doctor Octopus at a train, are anything but. The brief, but dark and humorous, back and forth between the two characters builds the issues’ sardonic mood.
Outside of a few scenes, between Carole Danvers and Commander Sharon Carter, and between Luke Cage and his best friend Danny Rand (Iron Fist), most of the issue takes place in a safe house as Jessica appears to betray Carole. For folks who are squeamish about blood, this is probably not the best issue to read, as it is as violent as anything we’ve seen from the Netflix show. The emotional highs that come from beating the bad guy quickly get replaced by the realization that, with Alison Greene’s arrest, Jessica must now deal with the consequences of sabotaging her relationship with her husband in order to go undercover. As Alison asks Jessica, “It was all a lie? All of it? You—you went to jail for this? You ruined your reputation for this?” The question, however, that readers who are familiar with Bendis’ take on Jessica Jones should ask is this – Does Jessica ruin her reputation for the case, or does she take the case to sabotage her life? Indeed, a few panels later, Alison states, “I can’t—I cannot believe how far a loser like you is willing to go to destroy your pathetic life…” to which Carole Danvers replies, “That’s because you don’t know Jessica Jones like I–”. Indeed, both characters have gone through their own cycles of self-sabotage in the past and appear to be, simply, repeating the process here, as Carole, too, must deal with the consequences of again disobeying SHIELD commands.
The issue ends with Jessica driving a broken-down and absurdly taped Subaru, representative of her now broken family, to her mom’s, to pick up Danielle. When she gets there, she learns that Luke has already figured out where Danielle is. Luke is already gone, and Jessica learns that his last words on the matter were, “I told myself if Jessica brings me the baby back before I find her myself… I can forgive it. If she doesn’t… Then I can’t. Simple as that.” This leaves the reader well aware that there will be no quick fix to their relationship and wondering if they will ever get back together. As someone in an interracial relationship who has always appreciated how Bendis has approached the issue, I’m intrigued to see how he deals with the fallout from this first arc.
Although only briefly mentioned, the magnitude of Jessica Jones’ “other case” looms large. That case, built on the events from Secret Wars II, involves a man who murdered his wife because he believed, correctly, that he was, as Jessica tells Carole, “from a different universe. A universe that was destroyed and—and that some of you know about it and no one talks about it.” Because he is not from this world, and because he believes that the world will simply remake itself at some point anyway, he takes on the nihilistic attitude that nothing he does right now matters because everything will be undone the next time there is a major crisis on earth. This is both an attractive and frightening perspective for Jessica Jones – as it excuses her behavior towards her husband, but also leaves her questioning not only her trust in the Superhero community at large but also in reality itself. For someone with a history of spiraling emotionally, such a fatalistic, and paranoid, attitude may have disastrous results.
I’ve been a fan of Michael Gaydos’ art since I began reading Alias over 10 years ago (indeed, I’m a proud owner of several of his pages from both the original run and this one). In this issue, he and colorist Matt Hollingsworth play with flashback three times, each differently. The opening page of the issue mimics the style of art from the late Bronze/early Copper Age of Comics. It’s clear from looking at the panels that Gaydos enjoyed creating this page, and it is the little things, like the awkward head and hand movements common during that era, as well as Matt Hollingsworth use of color, that really make this page pop. The second flashback, a single panel, in which Jessica flashes back to her the murdering husband from her other case, is entirely green and contains the right facing husband, next to a brick prison wall, and the caption, “you know I’m right.” The final flashback, on the last page of the issue, is an off-yellow panel of Luke carrying, in one hand, a smiling Danielle, as he tells Jessica’s mother that Jessica may well be past forgiveness. Usually, when comic book artists deal in flashback, each one is done in the same color. That each flashback here is distinct highlights their importance and makes me wonder more about the symbolism of each individual choice. Similarly, I enjoyed the choice to play with both the color purple and almost absurd onomatopoeia during the panels in which Carole Danvers gets badly beaten.
If I have a complaint about the art, then it is a small one – Gaydos draws, and Hollingsworth colors, both Jessica Jones and Alison Greene a little too similarly. This is not an issue when you can see their clothes, but is a small problem during close-up shots of their faces, as it occasionally is difficult to tell them apart. For those reading the issue, a good way to tell, when in doubt, is that Alison’s hair is a little bit lighter and her lipstick slightly redder. This is, however, a minor concern and doesn’t negatively impact the issues’ readability.
It’s rare that an entire creative team returns to work on a series over ten years after the original run ended. The reason that Bendis waited a year after the release of the Jessica Jones Netflix series was because he wanted to ensure that Gaydos had the time to work on the project. I appreciate the loyalty and it’s been cool to see how Bendis, Gaydos, Hollingsworth, and, of course, cover artist David Mack, who does stellar work, as usual, have all grown since 2004. I look forward to seeing what they do with Jessica Jones now that the first arc is finished.
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