JESSICA JONES #11
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Michael Gaydos and Javier Pulido
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth and Javier Pulido
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Release Date: 8/2/17
The key to Maria Hill’s secrets lies with an unlikely source: her estranged father. Jessica Jones #11 reveals what she’s been hiding.
Plot: Determined to find out who is trying to kill the former director, Jessica tracks down Maria’s estranged father to try to see what he knows about Maria’s past.
They uncover a file hidden at her old family home, and in a flashback, we learn about the past she had forgotten. Instead of the truth setting her free, Jessica finds herself in more danger.
Story: Just to acknowledge the strangest part of the story first: I’ve never seen so many panels dedicated to someone peeing in a cup. As strange as it sounds, Jessica trying to get Maria to pee because she believes a Life Model Decoy (LMD) wouldn’t be able to do that fits really well in this story arc that’s been built on absurdity and uncertainty. In this scene, Bendis shows Jessica’s frustration and how she’s trying to get back control over the situation any way she can. Since the beginning of this book, she’s been under someone else’s thumb, so it’s nice to see her do things on her own terms.
Much like Jessica, readers are still asking themselves, “What is going on?” Fortunately, Bendis decides to finally throw us a bone in Jessica Jones #11 and questions about Maria Hill are answered. The pacing feels much better on this issue because we get more than just LMDs dying for no reason.
Witty repartee about urine tests aside, this issue has a very interesting structure – not only using flashbacks to show Jessica’s interrogation but using a “comic within a comic” format to show Maria’s past. While it’s probably unnecessary to break down the plot that way, I appreciate seeing them take a risk in a book that generally values consistent structure.
Through Jessica’s eyes Maria can seem like a total jerk, but seeing a flashback told from the third-person perspective you actually do feel a little bit of sympathy for Maria and how hard her job was.
Art: In addition to the usual combo of Michael Gaydos and Matt Hollingsworth, Javier Pulido joins this book to draw and color the “comic within a comic” section referenced earlier. Gaydos and Hollingsworth have such a gritty style, it makes complete sense to bring someone else in for the very retro style used for Maria’s adventure. Again, there is no real logical reason to switch the art instead of using a normal flashback but it’s a fun creative decision that breaks up the monotony of the book. We see the classic Marvel colors and old-school lettering that easily makes you forget this is 2017.
Another sign of authenticity? How the creative team is credited in classic, sarcastic style:
The team really went for it in a great homage to Marvel and Maria’s history as a character.
Back in “present-day,” Gaydos does an excellent job drawing that “in-control” Jessica shaking down a source rather than trying to avoid death by LMD. This is the badass Jessica that has largely taken a back seat as she tries to keep her head above water among endless S.H.I.E.L.D. scandals.
Verdict: Having read this run from the beginning, I think this is one of the strongest issues so far. The plot development puts the story in an interesting place that makes me feel like the book is paying off but also leaves me wanting more.
The art from Javier Pulido is a special treat for classic Marvel fans and shows that creative risks can pay off even in these more mature, grittier Marvel books.
After seeing Maria and Jessica develop an almost friendship, the issue ends on a surprising cliffhanger. I can’t wait to see what happens next.