DUAL REVIEW: Jessica Jones #1 – “a.k.a. Alias Volume 2”

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JESSICA JONES #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Michael Gaydos
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth 
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Release Date: 10/5/16

 

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On September 5, 2016 Alias #1 from the creative team of Brian Michael Bendis, and Michael Gaydos’ Alias was released under Marvel’s adult only MAX imprint. The issue featured the first appearance of the one and only Jessica Jones. Now exactly fifteen years and one month later the duo has reunited to bring readers Jessica Jones #1, the character’s first solo series issue since Alias #28 in November 2003.

From her time as star of The Pulse, a member of the New Avengers, a mentor to the Young Avengers, to her blossoming relationship with Luke Cage that resulted in a superhero wedding, a beautiful daughter, and supporting stints in Mighty Avengers and Power Man And Iron Fist, Jessica has become one of the most beloved Marvel characters. Not to mention, the 2015 smash hit Netflix show that bared her name has made her more popular than ever. There’s no better time for her to star in her own series again, and no better creative team than her original creators.

In honor of Jessica Jones #1 The Marvel Report Comic Editors John Ernenputsch and Kathryn Calamia have teamed up for TMR’s first ever “Dual Review.” You, the reader will get the opinions on the issue from two huge Jessica Jones fans for the price of one.

Beware through, given that this is a discussion there will be plenty of SPOILERS for Jessica Jones #1

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PLOT:

John – Kat, it’s been thirteen years since the final issue of Alias. How would you describe the plot of Bendis and Gaydos’ return to Alias Investigations and the seedy underbelly of the Marvel Universe?

Kat – Marvel Now’s Jessica Jones #1 opens up with Jessica being released from jail for an unknown crime. Right away she gets back to work at Alias Investigations where Misty Knight barges into the office asking questions about a baby. Jessica seems to know exactly who Misty is talking about and literally throws Misty out of her office.

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Jessica takes a new case to clear her mind and, of course, earn some cash. A woman named Sophie Brownlee tells Jessica that her husband believes he is from another universe. Jessica thinks Sophie’s husband has psychological issues, but takes the case anyways. As Jessica is in the middle of her investigation Luke Cage approaches her to ask about their child. Danielle Cage is missing!

Kat – How about you John is there anything you would like to add to the plot?

John – You covered the specifics quite well, so I’ll just add a condensed take on the issue. Jessica, recently released from jail for an unknown crime, is back working at Alias Investigations. She is hired by a new client whose mystery may have to do with the very fabric of the post Secret Wars Marvel Universe. That’s not the only mystery, as it seems Jessica has a secret. A secret regarding her daughter that is turning all of her loved ones against her, while leaving readers to wonder what comes next.

STORY:

Kat- Jessica Jones is back! For you John did the first issue live up the hype?

John – I couldn’t have been more pleased with this issue. It felt like I was transported right back to  my teenage years reading the next issue of Alias that was never published. This was quintessential Jessica Jones. For several years now she has been a happy wife, and a great Mom. While it was awesome to see her character develop over the years, it was strangely cathartic to see Jess on the outs like the good ‘ol days. Kudos to Bendis and Gaydos for being able to recapture that classic feel without throwing away over a decade’s worth of continuity. We will get to how they succeeded in that area, but first I’ll throw your question right back at you. Did it live up to the hype for you?

Kat – Jessica Jones #1 was a solid read for me. It’s interesting because you were saying that you liked the classic Alias feel this issue had, but that’s the part I can’t decide if I liked or not. Jessica has gone through so much development over the years, and to be thrown into a similar status quo she had in her Alias days feels kind of weird. But I think the mystery of Danielle Cage may better balance what we loved about Alias and her development as a family person.

Kat – So what did you think of the two mysteries presented this issue? The case Jessica takes and the mystery about Danielle?

John – I really enjoyed the mysteries. The entire issue was built upon the latter of the two mysteries you mentioned, and it made for a very uneasy feeling throughout the issue. At first I didn’t realize Danielle was the baby being referred to, but it quickly became apparent as the parade of guest stars continued to come looking for the baby.

Expanding on what you touched upon above, I think that Bendis anchoring the main mystery (and to a lesser extent the job Jessica was hired for) in current continuity made the classic feel to the book less jarring. They didn’t ignore Jessica’s family, and still managed to pull it off. Instead of being confused as to why Jessica was seemingly back to her old ways, i was left wondering what evil mastermind could be threatening her child and forcing her hand. It felt like a “have your cake and eat it too” approach to this series. There’s no way Jessica actually did anything to Danielle. The fun will be learning why Jessica Jones needed to revert to her old ways, and how she’s going to save the day. Chances are she’ll have to do it all by herself as well. Does my take on the mystery as related to classic Alias feel alleviate any of your concerns at all?

Kat – I am sure Bendis will take the Jones/Cage family center stage for the issues to come, which I am very happy to see. Even if the tone felt a little off to me in this issue. Thankfully that doesn’t mean that I will feel that way for the future of this arc.

John – I just realized I never talked about the other mystery you asked me about. That of course being the job Sophie Brownlee hired Alias Investigations to look into.

Sophie Brownlee’s husband claims to have been married eight months ago to another woman, despite being married to Sophie for eleven years. He wasn’t just “Married” to any woman, but a blonde named Gwen. They also had a daughter named NORMA, and he claims Peter Parker is a liar. We know that eight months is important in the post Secret Wars universe, as that’s when the new Marvel Universe and Multiverse was formed by the Richards Family. We also know this Gwen person with a connection to Peter Parker (who could she possibly be?) is dead in this universe. So I’ll ask you the tough question, what is going on here?

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Kat – Oh man, I am not sure if this is going to unravel the mystery of what the hell is going on with the Multiverse post-Secret Wars or if this was Brian Michael Bendis trying to squeeze all of his old properties into one book (Miles Morales, the Ultimate Universe, Jessica Drew, and then of course Jessica Jones). The multiverse has been kind of a mess since Secret Wars, and if Jessica Jones is the book to fix the multiverse somewhat I would be totally satisfied with that.

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Kat – How do you think this storyline will effect the multiverse?

John – Honestly, I don’t expect this series to really deal with the the Multiverse on a large scale. I expect the book to stay as grounded as possible while dealing with this subject. So in other words I don’t expect Jessica to meet up with the Richards family as they fling new universes into existence. I do expect Marvel’s premiere superpowered P.I. to still uncover some truths about the nature of the Marvel Universe though.

If I were to guess, and the following is just a guess, I’d say that the current Marvel Universe was built from the remains of all the universe’s that were destroyed in the Incursions that led to Secret Wars and the formation of Battleworld. Then Franklin Richards helped recreate the other universe’s from scratch. The problem is that the creation of the Prime Marvel Universe wasn’t perfect and situations like the Brownlee’s happened to get through the cracks. This all seems way out there for Jessica Jones, but it could be brought a bit back down to earth (pun intended) if the story involves Jessica finding other cases like the Brownlee’s, and slowly unraveling the mystery on the street level. All of this is purely conjecture, but it is a bit strange to be thinking about it after reading a Jessica Jones comic. Although, it does give Bendis a chance to possibly work with ideas from the Ultimate Universe, and even explain some mysteries from other books like his Spider-Man.

John – I have a few questions about Jessica and some storytelling choices. First, was there a reason that we don’t know why Jessica was in prison? Or why she was surprised to be released? Was it connected to whatever is going on with Danielle? If so, was she willing to go to jail to protect her kid? Why can’t she tell anyone what’s going on? How long has Danielle been gone? So many questions, and I’m sure Bendis wants us asking them. Second, did you notice Jessica avoid the question when asked if she was married? Makes me wonder!

Kat – After reading the issue I thought Jessica was in jail because of her daughter, but knowing Bendis he may put this whole mystery on its head by the end. And I am excited for that! To answer your question about Luke and Jessica’s marriage I think she avoided that question because of what’s going on with their child. It builds up that tension, but on the surface it could also be Jessica playing a straight cop. She is trying to get information from her client without revealing anything about herself. She doesn’t want to make a connection to anyone, kind of a throwback to the numbness the character had in Alias.

John – As I continue to think about Danielle I’m starting to wonder if this mystery is going to lead to Bendis addressing the fact that she just might be a Skrull. Readers may be asking themselves “What is this guy talking about?” In 2008’s Secret Invasion she was kidnapped in the final issue by a Skrull Jarvis, and at the end of a later issue her eyes changed colors green as to hint all was not want it seemed. It would be very Bendis like to follow up on his own thread years later. We have also seen Danielle as the future Captain America, but I’m not sure if we’ve ever learned the source of her powers. That makes me think back to the panel with the folder with the very clear Xavier’s logo on it. So many possibilities.

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Kat – Interesting observations. I think whatever Bendis is planning it will be an interesting ride for the character. We know she’s going to play a huge part in the story.

John – To finish off the discussion on the story, after reading the first issue are you excited in the direction it appears to be going so far?

Kat – I am still very excited to see where the series is going to go after this. What hooked me with the original Alias was Jessica’s characterization, Bendis’ masterful dialogue, and, of course, the mystery in every story arc. Jessica Jones #1 had all of that for me!

John – I agree. In fact, I think Jessica Jones is the character Bendis writes the best, so I’m excited for more Jessica Jones from him. It’s been way too long. I’m also intrigued with the mysteries. Not only did they make for a good start to the series, but there’s also so many different ways that Bendis can take the story. It’s really exciting to think about.

John – One last thought, and I’m just throwing it out there. What if THIS series doesn’t take place in the Prime Marvel Universe? There’s maybe a 0.1% chance of this, but if it does happen I’m a total genius (/sarcasm) and you heard it here first!

Kat – Now that would be an interesting twist!

ART:

John – I’ll start this section by saying that Michael Gaydos drawing Jessica Jones again with Matt Hollingsworth on colors is just amazing. Nobody captures the essence of the character quite like them. That’s not even getting to David Mack’s covers.

Kat – I love that the original creative team is back for this volume of Jessica Jones. Michael Gaydos’ pencils and Matt Hollingsworth’s coloring brings the much needed noir feel to the book. The facial expressions that Gaydos draws are priceless. He shows Jessica’s disgust pretty perfectly. Examples of this are shown when Jessica tells Misty “to go home” and when she drags herself out of the Hudson River.

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John – That Panel of her pulling herself up from the river was the exact moment I realized that this issue was going to feel like old school Jess. In one image it captured what the character was all about before starting a family. It was also the moment I realized how much I missed Gaydos’ approach to the character. It seems that over the past several years artists have drawn Jessica as a typical good looking female superhero, while losing so much of what made her look unique for mainstream comic books. Even the Netflix show was guilty of this, as even Krysten Ritter was too put together compared to the Jess that was established in Alias. Gaydos draws her as plain, and even ragged on occasion. Usually that wouldn’t be appropriate to say, but it’s a huge compliment here.

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I don’t think it was a coincidence that Jessica Drew shows up looking more like the Jessica Jones from the TV show than Jessica Jones does. Spider-Woman was Bendis’ first choice to star in Alias, but as the process went along he ended up creatinine a new character, and we are better off because of it. Intentional or not, I felt that was a cool little touch.

Kat – Gaydos’ pencils fit very well with Bendis’ writing style. Bendis tends to have a lot of talking heads scenes. Gaydos uses camera angles and facial expressions to his advantage to make these scenes engaging.

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John – That is so true about the angles and facial expressions. I’ll take it one step further and commend them for not only being engaging but adding to the story. Jessica is a hardworking P.I. that is also the mother to a young daughter. She should look tired like she does. Her body language, and facial expressions also give off that she is stressed out, which given the conflicts though the issue, and reveal that something has happened to Danielle makes so much sense.

Kat – The small Marvel cameos throughout this issue were also a treat. It makes this volume of Jessica Jones feel more connected to the rest of the Marvel universe.There were cameos from the new Champions Ms. Marvel, Nova, and Spider-Man, Galactus while he destroys the the Ultimate Universe, and my favorite cameo Jessica Jones wearing a Dazzler Live T-shirt.

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John – The Dazzler Live t-shirt was my favorite little detail. I made a plea on Twitter for Bendis to try and convince Marvel to make those for all of us to buy. You just know it would be a popular shirt. As for the cameos, and little details, it was once again a case of Bendis writing the story to fit in with the classic Alias. The result on the art side was seeing Gaydos draw the Alias Investigations office, some of your mentioned cameos, and Luke Cage.

John – We’ve established that Gaydos does a great job with the issue, but we haven’t mentioned how important Matt Hollingsworth is to the success of the issue. Hollingsworth has been around for years, and has always been one of the top colorists in the business. He once again shows why in this issue. From the shadows and bright phone message light in the dimly lit office, the brown skies, all the way to the scenes in the dark, the colors are the glue that helps bind together the essence of Jesica Jones that can be found in this issue and Alias before.

VERDICT:

Kat – The creative team didn’t let the hype get to them, and gave a solid delivery for the first issue of Jessica Jones. The mysteries set up in this issue will hook the reader!

John – This comic was a great read for readers that have been fans of the character from the beginning, fans that were introduced to her in New Avengers, or those that are reading their first comic because of the Netflix show. Bendis was able to find a story that was able to appease everyone. In doing so, this first issue left readers asking a lot of questions, but questions that I want to see answered. The more I think about the mysteries the more questions I come up with. It’s as if I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. I wasn’t expecting that when I opened the first page, and there’s a 99% chance I’m overthinking all of this, but it’s nice to be THIS excited.

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