Sunday, 14 May 2017

Jessica Jones: AKA Ladies Night

"New York may be the city that never sleeps but it sure sleeps around."

I should start by saying that, although I read a lot of Marvel stuff as a kid and a teenager, I'm rather vaguer about anything later than '94-ish, from which point my comic book collection took a definite second place to my record collection. To put it simply, I have no prior knowledge whatsoever of Jessica Jones as a character (although I certainly recognise both Luke Cage and the Purple Man when I see them), and am coming to this fairly cold with my only expectations being to expect a variation on the noir tone of Daredevil. So it's a pleasant surprise to find a mix of very Raymond Chandler PI tropes (I love the narration) and a very feminist subtext.

We're told little of Jessica's past frm before she became a hard-boiled, hard-drinking private eye other than a hint from Trish late on that she used to be some kind of "hero", that she has super-strength that she doesn't advertise too widely, and that she's a year beyond a relationship with a sinister may called Killgrave, whose power to make people want to obey him is used mainly on the opposite sex and, it's implied, for extensive sexual purposes. This is a clear and deliberate metaphor for spousal abuse, and the way we're gradually shown how Jessica is still dealing with PTSD shows the very real trauma of spousal abuse and the very real courage needed to confront it. In a world where most Avengers merchandise fails to include Black Widow because blatant sexism it's good to have a Marvel series, with a female showrunner in Melissa Rosenberg, that deals with such issues.

It's a brilliant intro, showing us Jessica and her world and beginning the season arc, all while working as an episode of telly in its own right, with that shot ringing out in the lift being a truly shocking moment. We meet Jessica and the various characters who inhabit her world, including the interesting and nuanced Luke Cage, with whom she has some hard sex and an awkward parting. It's a very promising start to a series that promises to be a very different kind of noir to Daredevil.

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