Review: Jessica Jones #6

There’s always a danger of female protagonists losing their agency when men take the reigns to tell their stories. In the case of this issue of Jessica Jones Brian Michael Bendis doesn’t exactly keep up with that trend but, he doesn’t exactly disprove the logic behind women telling women’s stories. Bendis’ writing gives the hero a lot to work with and provides some much-needed tension. Unfortunately, for female fans, there’s the problematic nature in Jessica’s choice coming back to bite her in the ass. In this issue, we find Jessica ready to turn in Captain Marvel in an attempt to gain favor with the group she’s trying to infiltrate.

Michael Gaydos starts the issue off with some heavily pixelated old-school art to show us a flashback in to the initial meeting between Jessica (as Jewel) and Carol (as Captain Marvel. The artwork that shows their relationship is more pop art styled and modern. The switch in art style isn’t jarring but, it does provide the reader with a timeline to follow. The art and color is more ominous and defined in the present time panels which portrays the nature of the issues at hand.

This issue hones in on the lady-powered Cabal that Captain Marvel is spearheading and early on shows us the tension that this Cabal has created. We watch her and Jessica’s plan unfold and despite everything she has lost trying to do the right thing we see the good in her. She’s a mother first and a superhero second and her focus is on doing what’s right for her daughter, which is in itself noble. Captain Marvel gets her villain in the form of the anti-Jessica and we get a sense of hope that Jessica will be able to set her life back on track after embarking on this undercover mission. We get to see the ramifications of her actions and how they affect Luke Cage who misses his daughter and is on some level worried about his wife. When it’s all said and this issue comes to a close we don’t see a happy ending and family reunion in her future and it’s disheartening.

I’m not sure if the story would have gone down different levels if there were more women involved but, this issue punishes Jessica for choosing her career over family. There’s even a panel at the end where her estranged mother taunts her by saying “A mother’s first and only priority is her family.” It knocks the sheen off of an otherwise stellar ending to this arc. It’s akin to the problematic horror film tropes, sure you killed the killer but, it won’t come without suffering. You will still be punished for doing the right thing, you will lose everything you love. I had hoped for a happier ending for our hero, who doesn’t appear a lot in this issue with her own agency until the very end. Throughout the issue, Jessica is shown as an afterthought, a footnote in her own legacy, a person seen as adjacent to all the other characters to show what they are capable of. In some ways, I felt that in addition to her being punished for daring to have her own desires outside of being a mother, she is treated as a side note in her own story.

The story itself isn’t that bad, it’s actually well thought out and well written, it’s just not what I would call a Jessica Jones story. It was a very odd way to end this arc, I understand that things have to end with some loose ends to propel the character into the next adventure and arc but, this seems to be too much. There are other ways to move the character and story forward without relegating the main character to the back seat. It seems an odd ending place and bad starting point for a usually self-aware, despite her faults, strong, feminist character. There are other ways to add tension to a story without having her life torn asunder because of her choice to try and save the world. She’s punished for finding a place to keep her child safe and her husband out of harm’s way while she goes on her mission. I’m not sure where the story goes from here except that she now has to hunt down her child and Luke and hope he will understand. But, that resolution isn’t one worthy of her. Jessica deserves more than being a cautionary tale for working wives and mothers and I’m not sure this issue did her justice.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Michael Gaydos
Story: 7.5 Art: 8.9 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review