It's fair to say that amongst the Marvel faithful, writer Brian Michael Bendis is somewhat of a contentious figure. Because I don't follow the Marvel Universe as doggedly as I do the DCU I have a pretty positive opinion of the guy mainly due to his amazingly good run on Daredevil in the early noughties and this series which kicked off the Marvel MAX line aimed at adult readers roundabout the same time. This is the story of Jessica Jones, ex-superhero who has super strength and can fly but quit superheroing for reasons that veiwers of the Jessica Jones TV series will know about but which isn't revealed in this series until the final volume so I won't be giving the game away for anyone who hasn't yet seen the TV show. She now runs Alias Investigations, a private investigations firm and somehow cases keep bringing her back in contact with the superhero world she never found her niche in. Interestingly unlike Deadpool MAX and Garth Ennis's Punisher and Fury MAX series these stories are still very much set in the mainstream Marvel Universe, it's just here people have anal sex and say "fuck" which makes for some weird mental readjustments sometimes especially as only a few years earlier people in the Marvel Universe couldn't even say "hell" or "damn". This first volume contains the first nine issues, and I've split it into two parts each covering an arc. So time to enter the somewhat screwed up world of Jessica Jones by creator and writer Brian Michael Bendis and with art by co-creator Michael Gaydos.
We begin in the office of Alias Investigations. A man is sat in a chair, "God fucking dammit!" he expostulates. Jessica tells him that when he hired her, "these things rarely end well". She asks if he wants a moment alone, but the man is freaking out about the fact he's been cheated on. He turns on Jessica saying she enjoyed snooping round their lives and laughing at him. He lunges at her and she throws him through her office door.
|Jessica and a photo of her as "Jewel".|
Jessica: "It...it doesn't matter".
Cop: "Come on, maybe I've heard of you".
Jessica: "You haven't. I don't do that anymore...I outgrew it."
The cop says she's not above the law. He doesn't want to get another call like this one. Her current job is something of a comedown from superheroing. Jessica says it could be worse, she could be them. The other cop pull the first cop away and leave Jessica alone. She lights a cigarette and slumps forwards on her desk.
We then cut to her in the same position in a bar, she is somewhat drunk. The owner of the bar is Luke Cage, Powerman, who has unbreakable skin. He starts chatting her up and she says to him:
Jessica: "I just...I just want to feel something.... different."
Luke: "How about I just take you home..."
We then jump to them in bed together. It's obvious that he is sodomising her, She looks pained and reflects that Luke will feel both bad and secretly good about what they did together that night. But she doesn't care, she just wanted to feel something, "pain...humility...anger. I just want to feel something different".
|Thank goodness she wasn't on a date with Iron Fist!|
Jessica warns her finding her sister and confronting her "might make things worse". The woman repeats that she wants to know she's OK. Jessican takes some info from her and arranged a price then once alone gets to work. She narrates in his head that she often spends more time checking if "the client is legit than I do finding the person".
Now thanks to the internet she can do a lot of the grunt work that used to involve going to the Hall of Records or bribing people at the police station. This research leads her to staking out a flat at night. She sees the woman open the door to someone:
Jessica: "Wow. That's one big piece of beefcake you got yourself there."
As she keeps watching she sees the man get paged, which makes her think he's a doctor or a "big fat married cheating liar." But then something strange happens, the man leaves via the roof and removes his civilian clothes to reveal Captain America. Jessica, is taping the whole thing and is dumbstruck at what she now has on film.
|And suddenly shit gets real.|
She ejects the tape and decides to destroy it. She puts it in the microwave but pauses as various thoughts asail her. She caught Captain America changing from his civilian to superself. The man is a "living American legend, A man of political infuence, A man with huge enemies". She starts to wonder if this was a set up, and begins to panic that "they" will harm her and her family to get the tape.
Jessica: "I have been so fucking set up. I am so screwed... come on, first instinct's always right. It's a setup"
She calls the contact number the lady who first contacted her with this job, but the phonecall gives her the message that the number she has dialled has been disconncted.
She then hails a taxi to go back to the address she was given, but it's a baby clothes shop so she goes back to the woman she founds address and gets out when she sees a crowd has gathered round the place she was surveilling earlier. Apparently the woman has been murdered, strangled by someone's bare hands. Called in by an anonymous source.
|And now there's been a murder.|
She returns to her office and find two detectives waiting for her. She lets them into the office while one asks if she still has her powers and are all her detective licences in order. Then they get down to business, Jessica was hired to tail Miranda Pratchett. Jessica admits she only saw her once last night. She pretends to be surprised when she is told Miranda is dead. Unfortunately for her, the police take extensive pictures of the crowds and Jessica is in them. For that lie they are going to arrest her and take her downtown.
|A classic page of Bendis and Gaydos working together.|
Paul holds up a photo of her as Jewel and asks why she doesn't do that anymore, "a symbol can mean a lot to people".Jessica says that't just not her way anymore. Finally after more suprehero talk she asks what this has to do with why she has been arrested. She asks for a phonecall, Paul says only "guilty people" ask for them.
He says she can wait a sec while he question her some more. How did her powers work for her as a private dick? "Up until today... pretty good". She tell him she found the girl, then went to tell her sister but the number was disconnected and her address was a baby clothes store, so she went back to the sister's house to find a murder scene. She regrets lying to the police about being at the woman's house a second time. She panicked:
Jessica: "I mean obviously someone is fucking with me and I didn't know what to do".
She thinks she was set up so she'd wind up being questioned by the police. But she knows w
one thing, she didn't kill the girl and they are wasting time talking to her. Paul asks when did she get home. "One A.M." says Jessica. And that was when she phoned the sister, Paul thinks that's an inapprpriate time to call.
Paul: "I hear you got a temper on ya...one day you're throwing one through a plate glass window...the next day maybe you're strangling a woman to death".
Jessica is offended by this but Paul goes onto say maybe she has multiple personalities in there doing stuff. This makes Jessica furious at this and starts cursing him out, "this is bullshit. I didn't do anything. So I want to make a living in this shithole of a city. So what? Now I'm a murderer? Fuck you! And fuck..."
|Matt Murdock to the rescue.|
Later Jessica visits Carol Danvers who is mad at her for treating her like utter crap in the past. But Jessica needs a favour from her, she wants her to check the number the "sister" gave her. Carol agrees and Jessica goes home to wait her email. It finally arrives, the number was part of a "bank" numbers with the main number being "202-555-0812". She also apologies for being cold towards Jessica and offers her help in the future to. Jessica wonders what area "202" is. She dials the number and gets a big surprise, it's one for the for the commitee to elect the "Democratic Presidentail candidate Steven Keaton".
The next chapter begins with a jaunty party political broadcast for Steven Keaton that accuses the unnamed Republican President for spending too much time hanging out with superheroes, for being "someone whose ear is bent by people hiding behind masks and shadows". Some political pundits then chew the strategy over. One says it's a "poorly thought out strategy" his opposer says the President has done nothing but "gallivant and socialise with these costumed men masked men of... questionable backgrounds". Steven Keaton has been getting his hands dirty with "real people" in contrast rather than getting "his ear bent by aliens, mutants and God knows what else?"
She walks out into the cold light of day ruminating on her "make it up as I go along scheme". First she is going to find the woman who hired her in the first place. She goes inside a "Keaton for President" campaign office and the woman who hired her spots her and tries to slip out the back, calling on her mobile as she does so to a "Mr. Lawson". Like a vengeful angel, Jessica drops down from the rooftop. The woman faints, Jessica takes her phone from her and sees she is calling a "Lawson. Daviano".
|You cannot escape Jessica.|
She then narrates to herself that the point of that confrontation was to discover that the lawyer knew who she was but not that their was a dead person involved. Now she is going to wait outside staking out his car and follow him when he comes rushing out. As she waits Matt Murdock calls her and says she is off the hook for the murder. Also the lead deective was pulled from the case entirely. The evidence that helped exonerate her was the fact that the woman had indentations of fingers from a very large man round her neck.
As he tells her this, a very large man with very large hands rips open Jessica's car door and drags her out. He wraps his hands round her neck and starts choking her. Jessica gasps out "wh... what do you want from me?" as he throttles her. "Nothing" grins the man in response.
|Marko gets his just beatdown.|
Then we cut to a rich asshole called Mr. Zoumas playing golf. Jessica comes walking across the green towards him. His bodygaurds point guns at her but she bluffs them into thinking she is bulletproof. Zoumas tells them to stand down. He tells her to sell the tape she made, to make money or save herself from a murder rap. "You murdered the girl because you wanted me to give the tape away..?" Jessica is incredulous at this.
Zoumas wants to know what she wants from him. She wants him to confess. He says, to what? Tricking her to making a tape of Captain America's secret identity? Confess to a murder? If he was to, the authorities would need to see the tape.
Zoumas: "All I want you to do is give up flag boy to the press. And it seems this is something you have no interest in doing... But now you've got me where you want me - caught red-handed. But to do anythng about it you have to give uo flag boy. They call it a stalemate girl".
Jessica wants to know why him. Zoumas says it's because he's the "President's little buddy". The President has debts and hasn't paid them. Services have been rendered and not been attended to. Zoumas is so mad at the President he gave himself an anal fissure.
|Mr Zoumas tells Jessica the facts of life.|
He then tells Jessica to release the tape, because if she destroys it or comes at him again, he'll come at her and "I'll paint a picture of you to the world so ugly even you won't fuck you." Then a year later he'll have her killed in her sleep. He walks off to play the next hole.
Then her mobile goes off and she takes a call from a Clay Quarterman. He tells her to turn around quickly and walk away the direction she came from. As she goes and hides in the treeline, Clay says they have had a bug on her since the crime scene in Manhattan. Suddenly helicopters descend over Zoumas's group and opens fire, then agents drop down to arrest them.
Clay: "Jessica you have to go right now, or I can't protect you from my superiors. Oh, and by the way, if yu had taken the job with us at S.H.E.I.L.D none of this would ever have happened to you. But you never listened to me, not once".
Later Jessica is relaxing at home watching a news report on Keaton wihdrawing from the Presidential race to "spend more time with my family."
|Steve Rogers thanks her in person.|
He then asks her why she doesn't do "it" anymore. She admits it's because she realised she didn't have "that thing".
Jessica: "That thing that inspires people...to be. I dunno, better than they are."
Steve says he has met a million people in his life and "can't think of three who would have done this for me." She protected him when he needed it most. She jokes he's not going to salute her is he? He smiles and leaves saying if she wants to try again, she should at least call Carol, "she's a good friend to you". After he is gone we finish this arc with her on the phone to Carol.
|A happy ending? For now.|