Thursday, January 14, 2016

Book Review: Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis et al.

Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 1 written by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Michael Gados, and coloring by Matt Hollingsworth

After seeing the television show, I was curious to read the Jessica Jones comics. The comics are part of the Marvel Max line, which are intended for seventeen-year olds and up (i.e. R-rated content). There's a little bit of violence and blood, one sex scene without nudity, and a lot of swearing. A lot of swearing. And conversations about adult topics. So the content is there, mostly in support of making it a modern-day noir.

Jessica Jones is a former superhero who's hung up her cape and working as a private eye in New York City. In the comic, her cases gravitate toward superhero involvement. For example, a woman comes to the office worried about her sister who is seeing a new guy and things are moving too fast. The sister has been out of touch for too long. The woman wants Jessica to investigate. She finds the woman and things get blown way out of proportion. It turns into a grand conspiracy in the best of noir storytelling. Jessica does a lot of the hard work on her own, with occasional help from other Marvel heroes.

Jessica is an interesting character here. She implies that her powers weren't special enough to be a major superhero (and that she outgrew wearing costumes). She isn't quite smart enough to be a great private investigator either. She knows her limitations so when things get out of hand she gets a little paranoid and the story gets more exciting. She's more likable and a better person than in the TV show.

The art is an interesting blend of Mike Mignola's Hellboy and Guy Davis's B.P.R.D. So the book has a good noir vibe visually. I'm not sure the language was really necessary to sell it as noir though the book would just barely be R-rated otherwise. The stories have a lot to do with the psychology of the characters which probably is less interesting to younger readers. I found them fascinating and the twists were enjoyable. I will read more.

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