Writer: Brian Michael Bendis / Artist: Michael Gaydos / Marvel Comics
Speaking on writing Marvel’s Black Panther, Ta-Nehisi Coates expressed one of the differences between writing comics from other works is that someone needs to be punched pretty quick before the audience loses interest. Usually within the first few pages. That much is especially true in Marvel and DC Comics where readers are typically treated with action and adventure, explosions and web-slinging. It’s in that context where Jessica Jones succeeds in the Marvel universe in a unique way – for such an introverted, misanthropic character, Jessica Jones talks. A lot. It’s a dialogue-heavy book just as Alias was, covered with word balloons as conversations run through dozens of panels, multiple pages, or, in the case of Jessica Jones #3, an entire issue.
The bulk of issue #3 takes place in a single location, one long conversation between Jessica and a woman we know only as Alison. We know a few things that Alison isn’t – she’s not Hydra, for example, or affiliated few other other potential suspects – but Alison is still Jessica’s captor, having hired the Spot to kidnap her so the two women could have this conversation. Alison’s friendly, attractive, charming… the type of kidnapper you almost begin to forget is a kidnapper as you weigh her candid kindness with her unidentifiable motives. As a reader, the quippy dialogue keeps the issue interesting despite being complete foundation for things to come. A punch is thrown in every now and then though, just for good measure to bring out Jessica’s best snark.
Some of my favorite humor from Jessica Jones comes from them making fun of the rest of the Marvel universe, being open that it’s characters are different – that the book is different – as Jessica makes fun of corny superhero names and Alison acknowledges their shared disdain for all these heroes and their superpowers. The mystery for readers is who Alison is and what could she want from Jessica, which seems pretty boring as I write it, but fits with the pacing and adds to the questions that need to be answered without leaving us so clueless as to be frustrated. We’re being strung along and it’s working so far.
Reading Jessica Jones? Catch up on previous reviews here.