Time to rejoin the beautiful disaster that is Jessica Jones. Once she was a superhero called "Jewel" but gave it up as she felt she didn't really fit in with the costumed set and for reasons yet to be elaborated upon too. She has superstrength and can fly, badly, but now she runs her own private investigations firm called "Alias Investigations" with her as the sole PI employed there. But she keeps getting jobs that bring her back into the sphere of superhero influence. In book one she helped foil an attempt to embarrass the President of the US via getting Captain America accused of murder. She then got caught up in world of a delusional man who believed himself to be Rick Jones. She is also suffering herself from severe PTSD which viewers of her TV show will know the reason for but readers of the books will have to wait until book four to find out about. The writer is Brian Michael Bendis, now a controversial figure at Marvel, but back at the start of the noughties his work on street level characters like Jessica Jones and Daredevil gained him a lot of praise. Michael Gaydos is on art duties, his use of repeating panels to match Bendis's rythmic dialogue give the comic an almost Warhol-like quality. If you are wondering where issue ten is, it's been moved to the next volume and will be covered then, never fear. Now for another trip into the dysfunctional world of Jessica Jones.
Jessica is in cheerful mood, driving her car and singing along loudly with the radio. She passes a huge sign which reads "Rebecca Please Come Home. We Love You" and the road takes her into the small town of Lago, just by New York. She misses her turning and has to get out to ask directions. She takes in her surroundings as mutters that it's "like I tripped and fell inro 1978". A local policeman spots her and gives her directions knowing who she is and why she is there, they flirt with each other then Jessica goes to the home of Katherine Cross, it her neice Rebecca who has gone missing and Jessica is there to find her.
|Jessica meets the sheriff.|
Rebecca's mother then takes her through the last time she saw her. She left her at home to play bingo at church the might before, when she got home her husband Frank was passed out in his chair and she went to bed without checking on her daughter. Then later that day she got a call from the school pricipal who said Rebecca hadn't shown up for school that day. So she doesn't know exactly when she went missing.
Jessica asks her if she thinks her husband had something to do with it. She admits that she doesn't trust him and doesn't even like him anymore, Rebecca's disappearance has opened her eyes to that. She says he goes to "whores" and that he's seen him leering at Rebecca, "he was such a jackass about it. Couldn't even pretend not to." Jessica asks if Rebecca said anything about it. The mother says no, then Jessica asks if Rebecca had any trouble at school. Her mother says she'd been "mouthing off" at teachers and she knows Rebecca hated the jocks. Jessica asks for a recent photo and gets one of Rebecca looking pretty Goth.
He goes into a rant, he says he won't help her put him in jail. He says he was proud of his daughter, he had prayed she be better and smarter than everyone, "that she'd be able to go farther than us." He could see that was happening and that he was "so happy that she was going to make it". He tells Jessica she is free to search the house and his wife is "evil for using this to punish me". He wanders off, Jessica tells him not to leave town. "Where'm I gonna go?" he says bitterly.
She goes up to Rebecca's room which is a mess. She finds some notebooks on her dresser and an empty box where she kept her pot. The flirty cop appears in the doorway, she asks if he knows who the local pot dealer is, but the cop doesn't know. She asks to take the books back to her hotel, they are full of arty collages. "Might be clues. Messages. Might be nothing. Either way... the victim speaks." she tells him.
|Searching for clues.|
Jessica questions the girl more closely, "when you say mutant you mean Homo Superior?" She also asks if they ever say Rebecca use her powers, no one did, but Rebecca told several people she was one. Jessica's patient questioning reveals Rebecca told a football player and cheerleader and the rumour then spread from there and when questioned didn't deny it. "Being a mutant is like being gay or Jewish... you don't want to pretend you are if you're not, right?" says the girl. Jessica leaves to find Freddy the football player to aks him directly.
She goes to the football field and finds Freddy why the other players letch at her. Jessica confirms that Rebecca told him she was a mutant but he never saw her use her powers. He says he asked her out, but she said her mutant powers would kill him if they had sex. He asks if Jessica is the "mutant police" and that it's not illegal to "bang mutants is it?" Jessica rolls her eyes and returns to her car.
|No luck with the jock.|
Later Jessica and the cop have a tipsy clinch in the carpark, "mmmm you gonna fuck me, sheriff?" says Jessica and climbs on a car bonnet. Initially he is wary because he thinks he might hurt her, "not unlessh you want me to.." slurs Jessica. He decides to risk it and they start to have sex. We then get a two page dream sequence done in a bright "traditional" style with her as Jewel flying past Thor, then she sees Rebecca watching her from a window and wakes up.
|Even Jessica's dreams guilt trip her.|
Jessica: "I hear you just fine."
The minister said he is doing a topical sermon, that people like to see an immediate parallel to their lives and scripture. He realises she is the PI and a "super hero person". Jessica says she is not a super hero. The minister says it's a shame about Rebecca although she has never come to church as far as he knows.
She starts to leave then says she be "pissed at myself for ever if I don't say this". She tears into him for his prejudiced veiws, he stands by his words, "mutants are quite clearly an abomination bought on by mans greed". He insist nature tells him that it is so even though a pissed Jessica tells him how wrong and irresponsible his words are. "You're more than welcome to disagree" he responds.
Jessica: "I... I... I... think this thing you're doing here is about the single most disgusting thing I have ever seen in my life... You're preaching hate! Like some back water shit-kicking hick."
He denies that is the case, but she goes on to say that if she finds out his preaching has contributed the the disappearance of Rebecca Cross... she doesn't finish her thoughts. The minister asks why would it, Jessica tells him Rebecca was a mutant as she stalks out.
|Not a great start to her day.|
Then Scott Lang phones her up saying Carol Danvers gave him Jessica's number. "Carol you goddamn bitch" thinks Jessica as she listens. She tells him she is busy on a case right now, he asks where she is. "In Hell" she responds. She asks if he is Ant-Man, he says not anymore and "for that story, you're actually going to have to go out with me".
We then cut to Jessica in the newspaper's office and she talks with Patrice who runs it. She is sharing some mail which compares mutants to coloureds. "
Jessica: "Coloureds? What fucking planet am I on? What year is this?"
Patrice tells her she just wanted to give her an idea of the way people think in the town, mostly good people... she doesn't finish her sentence. Jessica apologies for blowing her off the day before. Patrice says she is just trying to help, she wants all this to be over.
|More small town bigotry.|
Patrice tells her that a couple of years ago a kid fell out of a treehouse and by a fluke had no broken bones or cust. A week later he was found beaten nearly to death with beer bottles. The family up and left in the night and the kid died alone in hospital. So "this shit" with Rebecca was bound to happen.
Jessica says Rebecca might be a mutant but Patrice states firmly that she isn't. All her investigations have lead her to the fact the kids at Rebecca's school are full of shit. Jessica mulls this over then says Rebecca wasn't a mutant but was telling people she was. She goes onto say that when she was at school she told people she made out with Simon Le Bon one vacation, "teenage girls."
Then she shows Patrice Rebecca's collage books. Patrice is impressed by them saying it's almost worse to think of something awful happening to someone with talent, "she definitely had a thing for the dark side of icons." Jessica says she still needs to talk properly to Rebecca's father. Patrice notes that half the town thinks he did it. Jessica asks her what she thinks and Patrice says that probably one of her classmates raped her and threw her in the lake because they thought she was a mutant.
|Jessica finds Rebecca's dad.|
We then cut to Rebecca in a New York club speaking to the clientele about the whole Daredevil/Matt Murdock thing that is in the news. She speaks of her love for him "this beautiful man who clearly defines something undefinable" then she reads out a poem dedicated to him as Jessica looks on. After the poetry reading Rebecca kisses her cute girlfriend. Then Jessica intervenes and drags her away as her girlfriend calls her a "cuntwipe".
|Rebecca and girlfriend safe in New York.|
Rebecca: "It was like I was in a coma and now I wasn't. Because I could kiss whoever I want. I could talk about whatever I want. I could express myself without someone making fun of me or asking what's wrong with me."
And once Jessica is gone, she'll leave again because she is in love. She refuses to "bide her time" until she is eighteen. Life is too short to live in that town surrounded by "fucking assholes".
Her mother is a lying bitch, her father is a weak man, she doesn't give a shit about what they think. She's already realises there is "so, so, so much more to life". She knows her neighbour Kenny, the only person there she cares about, told Jessica where she was. But she wishes she hadn't told him where she was going so she'd be thought of as dead in a ditch " and I wouldn't have to deal with this drama". She turns to Jessica and says "you know I'm right".
Then Matt Murdock calls Jessica and asks to see her next morning and this excites Rebecca as they reach the town, driving past the huge sign saying "Rebecca, Please Come Home. We Love You". Once they reach her house the find her aunt being arrested for the murder of her father. Jessica pulls up and realises what she's bought Rebecca home to.
Jessica finds Rebecca sitting in the church belfry. She reassures her that she didn't kill her father. Rebecca asks how she found her, Jessica says she read her diary and knew she liked to get stoned up there. Jessica then tells her she is really talented and tells her a friend told her "nothing makes a writer... liked a fucked up childhood".
Rebecca: "What the fuck kind of superhero are you? Why is the world like this?"
Jessica asks her if she wants her to take her back to her girlfriend. Later the sheriff finds her. Jessica tells him her girlfriend had come here looking for Rebecca and both have left. He hands over her cheque. Jessica is surprised the mother paid her. The sheriff says he "kinda made her."
We close out this volume with a one-shot about Jessica Jones relationships with two of the men in her life. It begins with her and Luke "Power Man" Cage standing guard outside Matt Murdock's office. Luke flirts with a woman who goes inside and when Jessica queries why he let her in he says it's because she's Black Widow in a disguise.
He then asks Jessica if they are talking now? She doesn't respond so he demands to know why she took the job if she is so pissed at him. He then says she fucked him, "you pounced on me, you physically grabbed me..." Jessica says this is an inappropriate place to have this conversation. Then mutters she was drunk. Luke says she fucked him then came by his place and nearly destroyed his life. And she should have thanked him for being there when she needed him.
Jessica asks who he was with when she came by. Luke asks if she wants to be his girlfriend. "What? No!" shouts Jessica, and he says it's none of her business then. Jessica says she wouldn't have hit on him if she knew he was a "cape chaser". Luke laughs at it, but Jessica says she thinks it's gross. He responds:
Luke: "If I was a lawyer, I probably would end up fucking a lot of lawyers. But being in our profession... I am probably going to end up fucking a lot of people... in our profession".
He then says he's trying to be her friend and she apologises. He says next thing she'll say is he fucked Iron Fist, and does she want to know why they call him that? Jessica says she heard that joke and they both smile.
|Jessica and Luke Cage on guard duty.|
We then jump forwards tp the evening where Scott Lang is waiting for her. She is late and apologises profusely, she says her job is "fucking crazy" body guarding Matt Murdock. Scott asks if he really is Daredevil, and Jessica asks if it matters because the tabloids have no right to be all up in his business.
A waitress comes up to take their drink orders. Jessica asks for a double vodka on the rocks, but Scott interuppts and says, "how about you don't." Taken aback Jessica says, "I'm sorry?" Scott says he was hoping they could not get drunk tonight. So they order coke and a sprite. Scott says Carol filled her in on Jessica's tendency to get hammered then be mad at herself afterwards. He hoped they could stay sober and "have a nice, real, genuine conversation".
Jessica is silent and Scott says she is mad at him, but she says she is just stunned. He apologises for overstepping and says she can drink of she wants. "No, we can do it your way" she says. They start chatting and Jessica confesses she checked him out and found out he was in prison. He says he was young and did something "unspeakably stupid." But he left a better person and never went back.
|Jessica and Scott flirt over soft drinks.|
Jessica says he looks like someone Carol would sleep with. She goes onto say Carol has specific requirements for a guy n both looks and occupation. If a guy doesn't look the way she has imagined a boyfriend of hers should look, "it's not going to happen". But Carol didn't asks him out herself because he'd been in prison. Jessica says she doesn't care that's just what's "rolling around in Carol's head."
Jessica says she's bummed Scott out with the prison thing, she was trying to compliment him. "Well, you should try and do better than that" says Scott. "You're a very patient and curious man" she responds. He was nice to her on the phone the other day and he's "tolerating" this conversation. He says he "hypnotised" by this conversation. He has no idea what she'll say next.
Jessica says he has a daughter right? He says she is his "reason for everything". Jessica thinks she might be a good mum. He then says he's fascinated by her job as a PI, but she says it's not as glamorous as everyone thinks. Scott worries that everything he is saying to her sounds fake, in their line of work "costumes and adventures" it's hard to meet people to trust.
Jessica says he's the first person in ten years who hasn't asked why she isn't a superhero anymore. He says she's the first person in ten years who hasn't asked him why he was a superhero. Then he starts to ask why she isn't a superhere, she interupts him saying "Ha! I knew you were going to do that!" Then both of them look out of the restaurant window, Spider-man, The Human Torch and Doctor Octopus are fighting.
|This happens all the time in Marvel's New York.|
More excellent stuff from Bendis and Gaydos. The Rebecca Cross arc really struck a chord with me. I grew up in a small town and went to school with stupid, boring, ignorant people. I used to dream of running away, but never did because unlike Rebecca I have a very close relationship with my mum and sisters. Still, I felt like I didn't belong, that there had to be more to life and when I realised I was gay aged 18 I knew if I could just hold on and get to university life would become so much better, which it very much did. This might also be the first time mutants are used to symbol gay people and not blacks during the civil rights era. Mind you I always felt comparing mutants to any oppressed people is a bit strange because despite what UKIP might believe us gays don't have the ability to control the weather. I was really glad when Rebecca was able to leave again with her girlfriend and be free of the stifling conformity of where she grew up. The date issue is also a nice piece of work, just two people chatting and flirting, building characterisation and setting up Jessica with two eligible men to romance. Overall we get more insight into just how self destructive Jessica can be when booze and sex intermingle for her and still leaves the reader wondering how she got like this and just why she stopped the superheroics. Bendis is teasing out a plotline that will pay off in the final volume, so only one more before we get to that, although viewers of her excellent TV series will know the answer already...