For the past three years since Jessica Jones has returned to prominence through her Netflix show , I have clamored multiple times for her caretakers to step back, and instead of some epic conspiracy arc, tell a standalone detective story featuring her. Done-in-one, case of the week stories can be memorable entertaining; see most of Rob Thomas’ televison ouevre. (I’m behind on Jessica Jones Season 2 and iZombie Season 4, don’t judge.) And, boy, do her co-creators Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, and Matt Hollingsworth deliver in Jessica Jones #18, Bendis’ final issue of the title before becoming exclusive to DC Comics in a story where she investigates every New York based Marvel hero’s favorite punching bag after the Shocker: the Armadillo.
But, unlike the multiple Marvel heroes she interviews in her quest for Armadillo, Jessica doesn’t treat him like a punching bag, but like a human being. Of course, there are snarky quips, but when she finally finds him at the Owl’s supervillain “pop-up”, Jessica doesn’t fight him. She listens to Armadillo and empathizes with a guy who wants to be a big shot bad guy like the Kingpin or Norman Osborn, but really is just afraid of being close to his girlfriend, Daisy. He would rather act out and get in pointless fights with basically every superhero than spend alone time with her. Also, he’s not a big fan of feeling invisible in a universe full of colorful characters, both bad, good, and in-between.
And this feeling is where the unlikely connection between Jessica and Armadillo springs into life in Jessica Jones #18 thanks to Bendis’ dialogue and Gaydos’ grid and subtle shift in facial expressions. Jessica can go from rolling her eyes at Armadillo mentioning the Green Goblin (They met before back in The Pulse.) to being sincere and open when she tells him that the Marvel Universe forgot about her after she was mind controlled by Killgrave and attacked the Avengers. Thankfully, Bendis and Gaydos don’t do a whole info dump in the final issue, and Jessica’s past is baked into her words and expressions.
It’s also pretty amazing that their last hurrah on Jessica Jones isn’t a stereotypical superhero beat ’em up, but a series of heart to heart conversations framed by Jessica just doing her P.I. thing for Alias Investigations. There are no big epiphanies or plot twists just a woman who doesn’t want to be a superhero being heroic in her own way and reaching out to a broken man that needed a listening ear, not “clobbering time” or a kick to the face. Bendis and Gaydos give cameos to some of Bendis’ favorite characters, like Miles Morales, the Thing, and Ironheart, as Jessica tracks down Armadillo. Everyone except Riri (Because she’s the best.) just attacked Armadillo without asking any questions about his motives. This is similar to the Avengers back in Alias who just tried knock Jessica out without taking a minute to realize that she wasn’t in control of her actions. Jessica can fly and has super strength, but as a private eye, she is ready to listen, make connections, and deduce motives before knocking someone out. It doesn’t matter if you’re half armadillo/half man or were experimented on by a character, who strangely appeared in the Jessica Jones TV show.
Also, I like that Bendis and Gaydos made the cameo parade relevant to the story instead of just fanservice, and it was fun to see Jessica and Miles’ rapport after his abuela hired her to see what he was up to in Spider-Man. One of Brian Michael Bendis’ gifts as a writer other than dialogue is finding new connections between characters in the Marvel Universe. This skill shines especially in his solo books like when Peter Parker had a complicated dating relationship with Kitty Pryde in Ultimate Spider-Man, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage were Matt Murdock’s bodyguards when he was outed as Daredevil, and the connection between her and Miles.
Jessica Jones #18 is all about the little things that make the character and Bendis, Gaydos, and Hollingsworth’s work on Alias and (for the most part) Jessica Jones great. There’s the smooth color palette that Hollingsworth after Jessica, who is napping with her daughter, gets a happy call from her client that she helped her and Armadillo reconcile. It’s a quiet take on the big win for a protagonist. Then, there’s Gaydos’ final trademark double page spread interview layout that allows Jessica’s clients to show their personality while conserving space and getting right on the case. Jessica begins by stereotyping Daisy as a redneck superhero fangirl from Texas, but she’s actually a wealthy model, who just wants her man back. And finally there’s one great, profanity laced one-liner to show that Jessica hasn’t gone soft since she left the MAX imprint.
Especially when coupled with the actual letter than closes out the book, Jessica Jones #18 is a fantastic love letter from her co-creators Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, and Matt Hollingsworth to one of the most engaging new comics characters introduced this century. Jessica has been through a lot of shit and hides her emotions via snark and sometimes alcohol, but she also helps people in her own way and champions those who might be forgotten or even attacked by the more spangly and showy characters in the Marvel Universe.
Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Michael Gaydos Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review