In Jessica Jones #2, the new creative team of Kelly Thompson and Mattia De Iulis bring a great new energy to one of Marvel’s best characters by simply giving her a compelling case to solve and letting her do her P.I. thing as she follows the trail of a serial killer, who is offing “D-list” female Marvel superheroes and supervillains. Like the previous issue, Jessica Jones #2 is divided into two parts with the first chapter being more about physical ass kicking and tracking down leads and with chapter two being more personal and psychological. Artist Mattia De Iulis is game to draw both kinds of plots, and he excels at everything from Elsa Bloodstone and Jessica Jones using axes to kill green blood oozing sea monsters to more subdued, noir scenes like Jessica snooping around Dia Sloane’s house, who was the first “victim” of the serial killer and has an incredibly power set that is both and blessing and a curse.
Kelly Thompson understands that Jessica Jones has such an engaging and complex personality, and her skills as a private eye and background as a superhero and strained relationships with them and more traditional authority figures like the NYPD add emotional stakes and sometimes dark humor to a murder mystery case. Thompson creates an immediate bond between Elsa Bloodstone and Jessica as they are both no-nonsense ass kickers, who protect people while not being particularly good at interacting with them. However, in the flow of action, Jessica learns more about Elsa’s connection to Dia while also trying not to get all navel gaze-y with Elsa thinking about how all humans are monsters.
Sticking an edged weapon into a squicky, gross thing over and over as your job probably gets repetitive so self-reflection keeps things interesting, I guess. And having an exciting action scene with acrobatic poses and panels from De Iulis is a way more entertaining way to do an “interrogation” scene than reusing panels and using a grid with talking heads and placing all the storytelling weight on dialogue, which is really fun too and gets a little poignant as Elsa really had a great bond with Dia. Elsa Bloodstone has some creative ways of swearing, and the pulpy, horror vibe meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer turned cynic would make a great Marvel MAX book.
But Jessica Jones #2 isn’t all guest stars and ass kicking even those make a great garnish for this story. Kelly Thompson and Mattia De Iulis craft an original, new villain that gets his power by siphoning it from women because he has no powers of his own. He’s not like Killgrave; it’s all just murdering them and bringing them back to life, and towards of the end of the comic, there is a real Tyler Durden/Narrator thing going on with him. Because this is a second act, Thompson and De Iulis don’t reveal everything about him, but just enough that he is the power of toxic masculinity in relationships weaponized. He is the guy who will lash out at a woman and then build her back up, but add a Marvel twist on that. Thompson and De Iulis also deal with this theme of toxic masculinity in a more true to life way when Jessica is doing her investigation at the Menagerie, the bar of the murdered female supervillain White Rabbit. She’s pumping the bartender for info, and a guy hits on her and then grabs her butt because he thinks he is entitled to her body because she is wearing leather pants. Of course, she sends him flying and walks out, but it is s ad and painfully realistic to see real world harassment in a Marvel comic and a benefit of having a female writer on the book, who writes one of Jessica’s best lines yet, “I’m goddamn sick of dudes just putting their hands wherever they want. Dudes thinking they can do whatever they want”.
In that scene and others, De Iulis is fantastic at drawing Jessica’s strength and tenacity, and an almost successful “superhero landing” seems like visual character development for a character whose secondary power is that she can fly, but not land. The aforementioned bar scene has a whoosh of wind as Jessica clocks the creep, and that same energy continues when she runs out to chase a new lead on Dia and get away from Misty Knight while almost “breaking the sidewalk” outside Alias Investigations in a hilarious scene. Like Michael Gaydos before them and in a more visually sharp manner, De Iulis has a certain skill for keeping his art in Jessica Jones grounded in a detective story while adding more fantastical elements in a matter of fact way like a big time superhero showing up in the second chapter to not team up and fight bad guys, but having an emotional breakdown. He handles that scene so well, and it’s a reminder that what makes the Marvel superheroes great is their flaws and humanity.
The first arc of Kelly Thompson and Mattia De Iulis’ Jessica Jones run has been a master class in three act storytelling with issue one introducing Jessica’s case, premise, and putting in her dire straits, Jessica Jones #2 doling out information about the serial killer revel and putting her even more dire straits, and who knows what issue three will bring. As well as being a compelling mystery, Jessica Jones #2 explores its title character’s guilt, acumen for detective work, and continued fight against toxic masculinity that happens to involve superpowers. It also has enjoyable scenes of humor and action, especially when Elsa Bloodstone is involved.
Story: Kelly Thompson Art: Mattia De Iulis Letters: Cory Petit
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review