On November 20th comic book and superhero fans will be getting the next iteration of the Marvel series that started with Daredevil. I was aware of Jessica Jones through casual research and my obsession with Squirrel Girl, but that is as far as my knowledge went. For you, true believers, I just finished binging on the first two major story arcs that were featured in the Alias and Pulse titles.
Hopefully we are on the same page regarding who comics are for. That question that was mostly settled a few decades ago. The idea that comics are for kids is a rather silly one. Comics are made for every demographic and have been for quite some time now. Regardless of the subject matter, “underwear on the outside” superheroes or comics based in reality you can find comic books that that cover every conceivable genre and maturity level. To be clear Jessica Jones was initially designed for adults, dealing with all the themes you would expect. I don’t know if Netflix and Marvel will get as heavy with the adult themes presented in Alias, but I suspect they will. It potentially will be darker and more complex than Daredevil and significantly more intimate as it deals directly with abuse and Jessica as an individual rather than the ideological focus of Daredevil.
After reading hundreds of pages focused on Jones the highest compliment that I can pay to the character is that she is human. In some ways I see a commonality between the goals of Moore’s Watchmen and Bendis‘ Jessica Jones. At their heart, superhero comics are pure fulfillment fantasy but if we pull that concept directly into our world being a superhero would have serious consequences personally, professionally and with your place in society. Watchmen seems to represent a nihilistic view of those consequences while Jessica’s is humanistic. In Watchmen I was often horrified by the actions of many of the characters in the Jones titles I often was cheering and rooting for them, despite their behavior. Both set of commentary are enormously useful as pieces of fiction and for examining yourself, both have worth, but I am pleased that I have the positive to go along with the negative.
The last time I really binged on a comic series was the Walking Dead. After several issues I literally threw the book I was reading across the room. The Walking Dead is excellently written and of high quality but I personally could not stand investing in a character and having them be ripped away from me or having them experience a devastating loss over and over again. This is my fault in a lot of ways. The comic was meant to be experienced over a period of time and I compressed a years worth of suffering into several hours. Jessica Jones on the other hand made me feel triumphant about the human spirit, despite the horrible circumstances and personal flaws of the character.
The Netflix Daredevil series proved that Marvel could bring characters to screens that are more people than spandex. With source material as strong as Jessica Jones Marvel can set the standard even higher and give us quality depictions of characters that we only dreamed about when we initially became comic fans.
For reference I am linking the currently published Jessica Jones trailers. Wisely Marvel/Netflix is slowly introducing the character and helping you become familiar with her. I think a lot of die hard comic fans will have trouble describing her, so in my opinion this is a wise strategy.