Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Sorry about the neurological damage."
"It could only be an improvement."
She's not wrong.
Private Investigator Jessica Jones has been formidably unlucky in almost every aspect of her life, but then she is far from her own best friend. She's 99% sass, impetuous, anti-authoritarian and inclined towards heavy drinking. I like her a lot.
Jessica does, however, have a loyal husband in Luke Cage, so doting that he's even given up his prodigious line in swearing so that their baby girl, Dani, learns only Jessica's fruity cuss words. Luke has been the making of Jessica whom we first met in JESSICA JONES Series 1 wandering around from bar for bar, drinking whatever she could, shagging anyone who would have her then waking up hating herself. It was a bit a cycle, that thing there. Then she met Luke Cage, and I'm not saying it was the easiest or even most obvious of courtships but it made for the finest four books that Marvel have ever published.
Unfortunately even that relationship is now on the rocks on account of... stuff... but Jessica's working on that. She's working on that pretty hard.
When everything was once good between the two of them, things went bad when Maria Hill - then director of S.H.I.E.L.D. - sent soldiers to their front door and tried to arrest Luke right in front of their baby daughter.
Now Maria Hill - no longer even an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (fired, disgraced) - turns up in Jessica Jones's bathroom with a bullet in her belly and blood pouring out of her gut. Someone is trying to kill her, but she's been unable to find out who that is, in spite of her decades of international espionage training. Or maybe because of them:
"I may not have all of my memories. I may have, voluntarily or not, given up memories for national security reasons. Probably so I can sleep at night."
Against all her better instincts - her complete distrust of this professional liar - Jessica accepts the contract and, about an hour later, finds herself targeted from a rooftop... by Maria Hill.
Trust is very much at the forefront of all things Jessica Jones. I could write five or six essays on the issue of trust in JESSICA JONES plus her time in Bendis's SECRET WAR (singular) and NEW AVENGERS books. Oh wait, I already have. Here Bendis builds it brilliantly in one and a half pages of intense, internal monologue as Jessica grits her teeth in full knowledge of Hill's history of lies, before Maria Hill even starts to speak. Then when she does, she's immediately disarmed by the truth.
When he's on top form, Bendis' dialogue is among the very best in comics, and Bendis is at his best when Alex Maleev or Michael Gaydos comes round to play. I've found that some writers flourish when properly partnered, then seem to flounder as soon as some other artist steps in (see PULSE).
Gaydos's timing, with incremental adjustments to facial expressions between panels, is subtle and flawless and - like Alex Maleev or Michael Lark - it is a shadowy world that he conjures. It's street-level and dirty and dangerous. Even the Jones's office is in venetian-blind twilight... until the window gets smashed in, anyway. I hope she has a glazier on retainer.
Even Chinatown fast-food joints become cold, unsafe places to meet under Gaydos - glamour is almost an anathema to him, and not everyone has the looks of a model. Jessica is unsurprisingly permanently tired and weary while Sharon Carter, now sub-director of S.H.I.E.L.D., is looking her not inconsiderable age.
"Where's Maria Hill? She hire you?"
"I don't confirm or deny ongoing investigations... But if you want to hire me yourself, you can visit our website and get a look at our rates."
"I can put you in jail."
"I am very good at finding people. Is there someone else I can help you find?"
"Maybe the person that did that to your hair?"
I did mention that Jessica wasn't exactly her own best friend, didn't I? That she was sassy, impulsive and anti-authoritarian.
Famously, Luke Cage spent time in prison for a crime he didn't commit. So that's something they'll be able to share in the shower if Jessica Jones ever gets out.
"Where are you going?"
"Yeah, to quote the great General Solo: that is not how any of this works."
"But - "
"We're S.H.I.E.L.D. This is a major public incident. You're being uncooperative and hostile."
"But... so is your hair."