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Review: Jessica Jones #4

jessica_jones__4Like every issue of Jessica Jones so far, something is really off with the characterizations in this series. Jessica Jones #4 opens with Misty Knight dissecting his and Jessica’s relationships and calling her “broken”. I took Misty for a kinder, more heroic figure, but maybe not in this story. Later in the issue, the shot of Luke hugging Misty end up in a press barrage condemning his erratic behavior. Someone might be manipulating Luke and/or Misty, and we’re probably not going to find out until this fairly decompressed story arc wraps up after six issues.

Jessica Jones is a really difficult comic to write about on an issue to issue basis because the new series is mystery driven instead of character driven. Certain folks might seem to be written out of character for the sake of the overall plot. But as writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist Michael Gaydos , and colorist Matt Hollingsworth unpeel layers of this onion of a mystery arc, the interactions start to shine through, especially Jessica’s blend of misanthropy and heroism which endeared me to her the first time I read Alias in college. A moldy old Bendis running gag since his days on Ultimate Spider-Man of D-list supervillains loudly proclaiming their innocence gets some new life when Jessica tackles Leapfrog and immediately asks the cops if she can help with their case featuring one of her dead clients. Even though her relationship with Luke is majorly strained, Jessica doesn’t retreat into herself, but wants to atone for her mistakes and help out.

This whole idea of Jessica helping out while being super snarky about it and making jokes jessicajones4interiorcomparing superheroes to head cheerleaders slides neatly into Jessica Jones #4’s reveal that Jessica Jones is a deep cover SHIELD operative. Or she’s basically what Jessica Drew was in Bendis mid-2000s Avengers comics, but with no family connection to HYDRA. This is why she had to send Dani off to her mom, went to jail, has a strained relationship with Luke, and pretended to think about joining Allison Greene’s organization. The reveal isn’t particularly groundbreaking, but gives the events of the previous issues some logical basis and also redeems the friendship between Carol and Jessica. It’s very messed up, but also quite heroic that Jessica is throwing her happy home life away to take down a big HYDRA cell while using her attitude of resentment towards superhero and their trappings as a way to keep her cover. Except Allison Greene isn’t just your run of the mill HYDRA accountant and yet another mystery that Bendis keeps slightly out of reach to get us to pick up issues 5 and 6. It’s refreshing that Jessica isn’t a criminal though.

Like Alias, the big (or probably medium sized in the long run) moments don’t happen in superhero slugfests, but in the middle of intense conversations. And even though he mainly goes for conventional grid layouts, Gaydos makes Bendis’ verbal tete-a-tetes more memorable with a well-placed facial expression, including Luke having a longing look about Jessica when Misty insults her or Carol’s look of surprise about Allison Greene’s leadership position in an unknown organization.

Without rehashing the events of Civil War II, this look shows that Carol know she’s on thin ice and letting a terrorist organization run around and kill innocent New Yorkers and superhumans wouldn’t be good for her approval rating as the new “top cop”. Hollingsworth mutes the color tone of her costume showing that she truly is there for Jessica as a friend and ally and not a high soaring hero like in previous issues. His use of dark blues in the early scenes with Luke and Misty show the coldness that Luke may feel towards Jessica as well as the web of intrigue around them and was one time the colors of Jessica Jones #4 stood out to me.

When Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos aren’t teasing and prodding readers for a fourth straight issue, Jessica Jones #4 is a celebration of its lead character’s heroism in the face of adversity and with a healthy dose of snark. And, on a more negative note, the portrayal of Misty Knight as jealous and cantankerous continues to confirm my theory that Bendis bases his characterization of classic Marvel heroes on what his plot demands. This is why most of his best work either is rooted in other creators’ work (Frank Miller for Daredevil, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for Ultimate Spider-Man) or involves his own creations like Jessica Jones, Echo, or Miles Morales.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Michael Gaydos Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Story: 6 Art: 8 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review