REVIEW: Jessica Jones #4 – “Angels of Harlem”

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JESSICA JONES #4
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Michael Gaydos
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth

Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 1/11/17

Jessica Jones has been approached by a mysterious woman named Alison, who reveals that she previously paid Jessica’s bail. Now all her benefactor wants in return is for Jessica to use her powers against her old superhero friends – and against Captain Marvel in particular.

Plot: Misty Knight chides her friend Luke Cage for  confronting his wife and tries to reason with him that a marriage to Jessica Jones was never going to work out, but Luke is now certain that something more sinister is at play. Of course, neither of them know their relatively innocent interaction is being watched and twisted.

A less innocent interaction takes place between Jessica Jones and Carol, where their conversation makes it clear that Jessica has been working undercover for Carol. With the information that Jessica provides, Carol connects the dots and realizes they’re dealing with an Alison Green. Turns out this woman has a specific vendetta against Carol for something she did in the past…

Story: Misty and Luke can be forgiven for thinking that Jessica has gone off the rails again, because up until this issue the readers were led to believe the same thing. But now it’s finally evident that even the stint in jail was a set up courtesy of Carol Danvers, and Jessica is actually working deep undercover to prevent the deaths of certain superheroes and Inhumans alike.

As frustrating as it is to watch Luke and Jessica’s marriage fall apart over secrets one of them doesn’t even know the other is keeping, their inherent faith in each other even when nothing makes sense is heartwarming. Luke defends Jessica to Misty when he himself was railing at her before, and Jessica defends Luke to the cops despite suspicious footage that’s meant to separate them further no doubt.

The mystery of this first Jessica Jones arc is finally coming together, and the thing that stands out most is how everyone is working at cross-purposes. Jessica being honest with Carol about her encounter with Alison was a big relief, but they have overlapping motivations for their actions. While Jessica seems selflessly prepared to sacrifice her personal life to avoid more deaths, Carol is overly concerned with how she might be implicated in Alison’s actions. It’s a very different take on Carol Danvers than I’m used to, and one that will be interesting to develop further in the wake of Civil War II.

Art: Michael Gaydos fills every panel with with thick lines that showcase the characters’ states of mind, leaving the backgrounds as little more than space for our heroes to fill. The heaviness of the material seems to wash over Jessica Jones as a whole, and Matt Hollingsworth’s colors go a long way towards imbuing the story with the near-tragic air it demands.

 

 

Even the pink and purple colors that surround Misty and Luke’s conversation in Harlem seem to be metaphorical in nature. The panels look beautiful, but they are also reminiscent of a sunset, which is apropos at a time when Misty is telling Luke to give up on his marriage and call it a day.

Jessica Jones‘ art style remains minimalist, but the grainy pencils and colors are appropriate for the gritty noir theme that permeates each issue. I commend the team for working so well with Bendis’ writing and coming up with an aesthetic that matches the dialogue perfectly.

Verdict: Jessica Jones #4 starts answering some of the questions that have been hounding readers since the series started. As Jessica moves towards solving problems rather than creating more, the bigger question becomes how this story will tie in with Power Man and Iron Fist as well as with the upcoming Defenders title.

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