Case 006: the Con Job - Jessica Jones #6 (Review)
Jessica Jones #6
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos
Color Artist: Matt Hollingsworth
In some ways, Jessica Jones is an acquired taste. The art is something a bit outside the mainstream, and it is easy to dismiss it as messy. The story is often angsty, a bit too on the nose; a little too down-to-earth and real in a world that is supposed to be about capes and tights. Another way to view it is as the refreshing indie film that it plays out like. Either way, this particular arc is Bendis unwinding something that speaks both directly at and sideways to the reality that is comics. It also does an excellent job of showing the warts of the super-hero community and reminding us that this is perhaps not the greatest generation that we are often led to perceive.
In this issue, Jessica delivers Captain Marvel into the hands of the Hydra agent that Marvel was trying to get Jessica to flush out into the open. And while the mission ends well, more seeds of distrust are sown when Marvel sidesteps JJ's question on what the heroes did to get out of the Secret Wars business, which, as we all know, was to destroy a bunch of alternate Earth's to save their own. A bit oversimplified, but you get what I mean. Even with the weight of that realization, Jessica has to deal with more important matters at hand, such as retrieving her daughter from hiding, and dealing with her broken marriage. Neither will prove to be feats well within her grasp.
As I mentioned, the art of Jessica Jones is a tough thing to get your teeth into. It is a bit retro at times, and Gaydos does an excellent rendering of old school comics in the opening pages, which are a flashback to the first meeting between Carol Danvers and Jessica Jones. But what I found most remarkable is how, in the span of two panels, Gaydos and Hollingsworth use the lesser detailed style of the 80s comics to contrast with their own of today and yield what amounts to an aging effect on Danvers' close-ups. It's a wonderful bit of nuance, because the comics industry rarely acknowledges the notion of its characters aging, and because they do not nod to it in the script. The creative team just wants you to catch it and figure it out. In a neat sequence between Luke Cage and Danny Rand, Gaydos does an excellent job of conveying a wide range of emotions across Luke's face in what is a pretty standard panel layout, but one that works really well to showcase those transitions. Ditto for the villain, who Gaydos plays like a fiddle in emoting her avarice and malcontent. On the closing page, there is a great sepia tone portrait of Luke and Cage's daughter, reciting his well-worn line on what the consequences are of Jessica's actions, which he has recited several times and is now delivering on. It all results in a great stretch of storytelling by the art team.
Bendis is up to one of his better arcs on this Jessica Jones run. The tearing apart of the Cage-Jones marriage and family is about as tear-jerking a storyline as one could tackle. The fact that it is set against the backdrop of the normal Marvel plot magnitude is a great foil, as Bendis unwinds this smaller story of a single family against an inferred cosmic backdrop. The mid-issue switcheroo turns out to be a great rope-a-dope after it looked like Jessica was all-in on turning on the capes last issue. The pretty brutal beating that Captain Marvel takes is what sells it, and I was in hook, line, and sinker. This is a powerfully driven character development story. The single looks that Jones gives characters, mixed in with the one-liners that hold so many meanings of greater import than the quips that they are, create a wonderful tapestry rich with some of the most complex character personas that have been featured in a Marvel comic. That one page scene that is all Daniel Rand and Luke and the wonderful dialogue between two old friends who have solved many a mystery together is just graceful, artfully woven stuff