Page 45 Review by Stephen
This is it.
This the big pay-off, the climax and conclusion to JESSICA JONES: ALIAS, the finest series Marvel has ever published. Why has Jessica Jones, private investigator, been wandering around from bar to bar drinking whatever she can lay her hands on and fucking whoever will have her? Why is she caught in this self-perpetuating spiral of self-loathing?
It's far from simple or straightforward. It's not a single event but a conglomeration of blows upon bruises which began in childhood. But yes, there was one final, painfully extended trauma which tipped the scales right over and it's finally going to come out.
"Young maiden of Midgard, thy language leaves something to be desired."
Oh dear. Jessica's has just thrown up all over Thor's yellow boots. Well, I say "just" but that was back in her teens after she first found out she could fly. But not very well. She came splashing down in the Hudson River and almost ended up drowning. Hence throwing up on those boots.
Now: she's woken up once again in a strange bed with a chronic hangover.
"Where the fuck am I? Seriously. Where the fuck - I have no idea where I - ah! Fffgod damn it! Where are my clothes?
"Oohh... Please tell me I didn't fuck someone I don't know."
It's then that she spots the man's enormous, familiar, trademark yellow shirt.
"Shit. Seriously, shit."
Way back in JESSICA JONES ALIAS VOL 1 she ended up shagging Luke Cage: one more drunken misdemeanour in a succession of many before and since. Thing is, Luke was an adult about it; Jessica wasn't. Thing is, Jones is now supposed to be dating Scott Lang. And the final thing is, she doesn't seem overly keen about it... or on him.
"You can't be my sidekick if that's what the shirt's about."
"Should I even ask where my clothes are or what I am doing here?"
"You don't remember?"
"It was some wild shit. We had a big freak on. You gang-banged the New Warriors and then -"
Jessica gives him the evil eye. I love Michael Gaydos' art - it's so expressive. In a single, subtly nuanced expression you can see her not finding that remotely funny, albeit she has no moral high ground to stand on.
"Do you remember calling me?"
"You don't remember calling me drunk out of your fucking mind and telling me that I'm not half the man Matt Murdock is and that I could go fuck myself?"
"Yeah. And then, about fifteen minutes later or so, you flew into my window and crashed into my fridge."
Exhibit A: a seriously trashed window. Exhibit B: a severely dented fridge. Guilty as charged.
Luke was a gentleman last night and, once more this morning, he is a complete but no-nonsense adult about it. And she was doing so well. She hadn't had a drink in quite some time. So what made her come undone?
It was a job: a job involving a callously, carelessly but still calculatingly manipulative bastard whom she had prior history with. Oh, our Jessica is far from a pushover and decides to face up to her past in order to lay it to rest while helping others and finally get some closure. But I'm afraid it doesn't go well.
I cannot begin to tell you how well written - how well structured - and how well drawn this all is. Bendis takes what was once a relatively throwaway, c-list supervillain whose specific ability had been used previously by other writers as little more than a plot-point for pugilism and makes of it the most horrific essay in emotional abuse. And then he plays with it, and - in doing so - allows the playa to play a little longer too. There's no fourth wall breach here but there is the illusion of it as cast so jauntily by the self-involved, egomaniacal wretch himself.
Before you get anywhere near that, however, this volume opens with two whole chapters of flashbacks far further into Jessica's past than you would have anticipated - into to her teen years at High School. Initially it looks like an improbable, throwaway joke tying in to not one but two major superheroes' established - *gasp* - secret origins. The art there is a delicious, delirious, accomplished and apposite evocation of Steve Ditko for the extended cast and of romance-era Jack Kirby for Jessica Jones herself. As time passes and Jessica ages the style morphs closer and closer to Gaydos' own. Additionally there are some hilariously bouffant, Farah Fawcett hairdos.
So when the first real trauma which will catalyse so much of the deep-seated guilt kicks in, you will be watching it as incredulously as any catastrophe you can think of. Then you can see young Jones beginning to build those insurmountable walls brick by godawful brick.
Then we return to the present; then we return to the really nasty shit.
But, do you know what? Way back when I promised you a journey and I promised you a miracle. Not a Deus Ex Machina, but a brilliant, broad beam of hope.
And - with subtle foreshadowing but subsequent misdirection - Brian Michael Bendis typically leaves it until the very last minute. What a lovely, lovely man.
Unlike almost every Marvel Comic series which quite rightfully has its specific sort of fans, I recommend this almost unequivocally to the Real Mainstream - the average person on the street who enjoys non-genre, contemporary fiction - so long as you're over fifteen.