JESSICA JONES #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Michael Gaydos
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Release Date: 11/16/16
After being released from prison for an as yet unexplained crime, Jessica Jones finds herself without friends and in desperate need of cash. Her first client since prison is a woman whose husband believes he’s in the wrong reality, but pursuing the case has put Jessica right back in her estranged husband Luke’s path.
Plot: Jessica Jones is distracted from properly following her client’s husband due to an argument with Luke, which leads to her flying off to get away from him and Luke smashing the passenger door of her car.
Having botched the first case off the bat, she finds some solace with her daughter Danielle. The sweet baby is revealed to thankfully not be dead or missing, but rather in her mother’s care. It’s the next day, though, that Jessica’s case heats up in a deadly way…
Story: This week’s issue of Jessica Jones opens with a bittersweet reminder of how happy she and Luke used to be, before returning to the present and exploring the rift between them. While not much is revealed about the cause of their estrangement – or the reason for Jessica’s prison sentence – the lack of information fed to the audience perfectly mirrors the breakdown in the couple’s communication. It’s not clear how long the story can or will stretch out the mystery by having characters keep silent, but for now it’s an effective way to illustrate how human beings make themselves islands at times. The reader isn’t privy to how or why Jessica’s friends abandoned her while she was in jail, only that whatever she did angered the superhero community. But at the same time, it’s clear that she is now actively pushing her old friends away instead of taking a chance and confiding in them. Whether she’s making the right call or not remains to be seen, but her predicament at the end of the first issue suggests that she could use a little super-powered help.
Jessica Jones #2 deals almost entirely in the protagonist’s psyche, juxtaposing her sense of alienation with her maternal instinct and her desperate desire to regain a sense of what’s normal. Though the pace might feel a little slow at first, the issue serves to bring the audience closer to Jessica and detail just how off this reality seems to be. Not to mention that the tension ramps up near the end, both in terms of Jessica’s private investigations and the larger mystery surrounding her dreary state. Whether or not those two things are connected will have to wait another month, but the series already has me hooked. Brian Michael Bendis has always been masterful at crafting a detailed backstory, even when certain elements are withheld at the start, and this new title is no exception.
Art: The difference in tone between Power Man and Iron Fist and Jessica Jones is stark, despite both featuring the same married couple. The events of one don’t line up with the continuity of the other at the moment, but more than that there is a sharp contrast in lightness of the former despite the chaos and the unrelenting bleakness of the latter. And while the writing certainly contributes to that, because Jessica is depressed and all her relationships are on thin ice, the art is what most clearly drives the point home.
Michael Gaydos fills every panel with thick lines that lend a heaviness to the proceedings that can’t be shaken off, and the dark palette that Matt Hollingsworth uses send the reader right into Jessica’s gloomy mindset. At the same time, the artists also use their skill to show the subtle shifts in her mood even without the dialogue spelling it out. Take Danielle’s appearance, for example: suddenly the room gets lighter when she arrives, and it’s no coincidence how much she stands out against the pallid background as the one bright spot in Jessica’s life.
Verdict: Jessica Jones #2 starts answering a few of the mysteries that its first issue posed, but ultimately leaves the reader with more questions. With a methodical set-up and excellent character work, it’s already shaping up to be a thrilling ride once it takes off at full speed.