JESSICA JONES #14
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Michael Gaydos
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 11/8/17
After finding out the Purple Man is free and probably coming after her, Jessica goes into deep hiding with Captain Marvel’s help. Unfortunately, it’s of no use because her worst enemy has already taken control of her daughter Danielle.
Plot: Jessica Jones #14 opens with Luke Cage busting through the doors of Ryker’s to demand an explanation for Purple Man’s release, but Captain Marvel arrives to prevent a fight. Meanwhile, Jessica is faced with the nightmare of her abuser possessing her daughter – not knowing whether he will hurt Danielle himself or use Danielle to hurt her.
Once Killgrave has agreed to “call” Jessica instead, she takes her daughter to Alpha Flight so that Carol’s corps can protect her while the two ladies quietly begin to execute the plan Jessica’s been dreaming up for the last fourteen years. Of course, this means Danny must take Luke on vacation to Madripoor while Jessica awaits the Purple Man alone…
Story: Though the majority of Jessica Jones #14 is a waiting game meant to set up a (hopefully?) final confrontation with the Purple Man, Brian Michael Bendis does an excellent job of laying out the stakes and elevating the tension. By starting with Killgrave speaking through innocent Danielle, he immediately confirms that nothing is sacred to this man and he is beyond redemption. Not to mention how palpable Jessica’ fear that she could lose her daughter is. The opening moments of the issue are so terrifying that I temporarily forgot this power had not previously been exhibited by him in the comics.
It is not all unrelenting fear and loathing, though, as Bendis provides a few sweet moments with Carol so that the two women can reminisce about their friendship and promise to look out for each other. There’s even a little bit of delving into Jessica’s psyche once more, with Carol instinctively knowing her friend wants to pull away to protect others. But abusers, and the abusive system that lets them slip through the cracks, can be taken down when victims band together and refuse to let terror divide them. It’s also great to have Luke and Danny in a scene providing comedic relief and emotional support even if they are a long distance away.
I must admit that I have never been a fan of the Purple Man in Jessica’s backstory, because it harkens back to the trope of breaking strong women through sexual abuse or by taking away their agency. But I am on board with this story if it means that she gets to turn the tables in the end and reclaim her power for good, and the hints at the plan she’s concocted give me hope that is the case.
Art: Michael Gaydos’ art retains the same minimalist approach that has characterized his entire run thus far in Jessica Jones #14, and it is perfectly complemented by Matt Hollingsworth’s dark and dreary colors. While there are times I wish for more light to seep into certain panels so that the the surroundings are clearer, the emotions embedded in every close-up of Jessica’s face more than makes up for it.
It never fails to surprise how much nuance Gaydos imbues, even in pages that look nearly identical outside of the dialogue. There’s always one or two subtle differences in a character’s thoughts that can be revealed in their lifelike demeanor, making the experience of reading Jessica Jones #14 all the more rewarding.
Verdict: Jessica Jones #14 doesn’t have a lot of action, but it gives readers a lot of emotion and tension to chew on. There’s no telling where the overall story – and title – will go once Bendis leaves Marvel, but everything about this particular arc thus far promises a satisfying conclusion.
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5