Jessica Jones #1 Review

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For quite some time Jessica Jones has remained a background character in the grand scope of the Marvel Universe. But now, after her hit Netflix series, Jessica Jones creator Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos return to bring back Jessica Jones in her new on-going series, 15 years after her original introduction in the pages of ‘Alias’.

This title brings back a rather forgotten genre to the Marvel Universe: mystery. Much like in the original series, the issue sees our protagonist working as a private investigator for everyday citizens. Most of her cases are the usual duds such as a cheating husband or a distrustful relative. However, this comic presents us with a scenario which truly embraces the universe it is set in. A client presents her with information on her husband that seems absolutely outlandish at best, delving into other-worldly possibility, but Jessica decides to take this case on anyway. Whatever pays the bills at the end of the day. But the life of Jessica Jones was never easy to begin with as multiple characters start pulling at the seems of a particular question which only Jessica knows the answer to: Where is the baby? Jessica now has to avoid those prying into her private life all the while trying to live a normal life in a not so normal world. And the reader is taken along with her.

I’m very critical of the way in which Brian Michael Bendis writes. He’s written amazing books, but more recently he’s written sub-par and unbearable books. Nowadays when I see a title with his name on it, I get put off of reading it. However, I have nothing but praise for his return to the world of Jessica Jones as Bendis proves that given a character he loves he’ll do amazing things with them. Seeing as how Bendis created Jessica, he understands the tone and feel that a Jessica Jones book should incorporate and, in this instance, it works in such a way that it feels like it directly continues from his other Jessica Jones titles. From the foul-mothered rants to the “without a care in the world” attitude, Bendis nails the personality of Jessica once more by returning her to her roots. It was always quite relieving to see that the Netflix show did not have a major influence on how the book was written; Jessica Jones was still being written as Jessica Jones and not Krysten Ritter. The use of characters such as Misty Knight, Luke Cage and Spiderwoman really helped ground the story in its street-level roots with these characters also helping establish what I can only assume to be the ongoing mystery of the first arc: Where is the baby? The way in which Bendis incorporates this story with the case of Jessica’s client is perfect and flows evenly without any sudden hiccups.

It’d be hard to imagine a Jessica Jones book without the iconic pencils of Michael Gaydos coupled with the water color art of Matt Hollingsworth. Thankfully, this duo returns and amplifies the book to the level of the original, to the point that without their art the book just wouldn’t feel the same. Gaydos uses his pencils to portray characters in a different light. While most other characters in comics are portrayed as sleek, rounded and flawless, Gaydos draws his characters with thick black lines, lots of shading and often shrouded in shadows, showing how the world of Jessica Jones and essentially this darker side of the Marvel Universe is far from perfect. It reflects the struggles that Jessica has been through and that, even though most of her nightmares are over, the scars still haven’t healed. Hollingsworth’s colors add a sort of distortion to the images, also reflects the darker tone of Jessica Jones, while embracing its noir-like roots.

Overall, Jessica Jones is a fantastic comic that hooks you in from the first page. With Bendis’s phenomenal writing of Jessica coupled with an interesting mystery and fantastic art, the title is a must-read for fans old and new of the former hero.

SPOILER SECTION: DISCUSSING THE PLOT (My More Informal Analysis)

The issue starts with Jessica being released from a prison known as the Cellar. She’s bailed out by an anonymous source, but not much else is revealed about this event. She returns to Alias Investigations and shifts through messages; one from Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel, who asks if Jessica is alright. Misty Knight suddenly bursts in and questions Jessica, asking “Where is the baby?”. Jessica kicks her out and ignores her pleas, kicking off the mystery.

Jessica goes to meet a client, Sophie Brownlee, who claims that her husband has been acting strange, sating that ever since eight months ago, he’s been talking about how he was married to someone called Gwen, that they had a child called Norma and that Peter Parker is a liar. Sophie brings out some online research showing how she thinks he’s from a different earth in the multiverse, but Jessica dismisses it as crazy online theories, saying that she’ll find out the real reason. Jessica leaves to find out that Spiderwoman has been spying on her. Upon confronting her, Spiderwoman asks about the baby, and says that she needs to talk to “him”. On a little side note, Spiderwoman looks quite a lot like Krysten Ritter in this comic. That could be just me, however.

Jessica goes to scope out Sophie’s husband, who she finds standing on an empty sidewalk in the middle of the night. As she starts taking pictures in her car, Luke Cage confronts her, asking where their daughter is.

Since this is a mystery, I might as well provide my take on what happened. My theory is that Kilgrave aka The Purple Man has returned into Jessica’s life, and for the safety of the baby, Jessica has hid her away from everyone. This is important as Kilgrave would most likely use his mental manipulation on the people close to her in order to steal her baby. Kilgrave could have also made her commit a crime, linking back to why she was in jail at the beginning of the issue.

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Death of X #1 Review

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Throughout All-New, All-Different Marvel we’ve had little teasers and conversation mentions as to what actually happened between the Inhumans and X-Men eight months prior. Now, Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule take us back in Death of X; showcasing the downfall of one of Marvel’s most beloved families and the rise of the new dominant group

We all know the story of the X-Men: humans with mutant genes that unlock when they hit puberty, displaying phenomenal powers and abilities. However, the general public shuns them and disregards their efforts. The Inhumans are rather new to the general public. Thousands of years ago, aliens experimented on caveman, creating the Inhumans. These aliens left behind the Terrigen Mist, a gas containing the chemical required to unlock the Inhuman gene in Inhuman descendants. And due to prior events, these mists have been released worldwide in a raging cloud. However, we’ve gotten information in recent titles that the mist is deadly to any mutant and by this information conflict rises between the two groups. This issue goes back to show how the conflict originally ignited after the latest Terrigen Mist incident in Japan, from both the perspective of the Inhumans and the X-Men.

This comic excels in its purpose by establishing that the X-Men are taking a mighty blow in their goal towards survival and that this last straw made indeed spell their demise. Lemire conveys this almost poetically: while the scenes with Inhumans are drawn with bold colors, smiles and written in a positive light, every scene with the X-Men has a darker color scheme and is depressing, bloody and bleak. It really does feel like for every win the Inhumans have, the X-Men suffer a great loss, and even though these groups are so alike, their goals and actions are polar opposites. Lemire and Soule write a wonderful speech at the end of the issue for two characters: Cyclops, the mutant leader, and Crystal, the leader of the All-New Inhumans. These two speak at the same time which allows us to juxtapose what they are saying, and in those regards, there’s a direct parallel. What each groups strives for mirrors each other perfectly, but the success of one group harms the other. Such harm is conveyed in the death of a long-time X-Men character, which sets Cyclops on a path of vengeance. This series is definitely building up to a stellar confrontation and I’m excited to see how it plays out over the months. My only complaint plot wise is this I feel this story could’ve been a #0 issue, providing context for new readers as anyone reading All-New Marvel the past year will learn nothing now for this comic. It didn’t really do anything new and merely provided context, but it still worked incredibly well.

Aaron Kuder’s art is really good in this issue. The way he manages to captures the physique of the characters is brilliant and no character feels the same. But where I feel he really shines is during fight scenes. Every fight scene in this book is an absolutely pleasure to look at. Characters are drawn in strong, badass poses and there’s truly a spectacle in the way he conveys the use of powers. For example, Crystal’s powers are based around the elements of fire, water, earth and air. When Crystal uses her fire, it’s drawn it such a manner that the scope of the flames resonates with the reader, and heavy hitters feel like heavy hitters. This is great as it will help readers show who they need to watch out for in upcoming issues. Special mention to how Kuder draws Naja during combat and flight. The art gets a major boost from Morry Hollowell’s colors which, as previously stated, show a great contrast between the plight of the X-Men and the thriving of the Inhumans.

Overall, the first issue in this mini-series is a great start. With a solid premise building up to something big and spectacular art to compliment the writing, Death of X is a must-read for any Marvel fan looking to get in tune with current Marvel events or just an X-Men or Inhuman fan in general. Feel free to read further on for a spoiler-section analyzing the plot in more detail.

SPOILER SECTION: DISCUSSING THE PLOT (My More Informal Analysis)

The X-Men, consisting of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magik, The Stepford Cuckoos, Iceman and Goldballs, go to Muir Island after a distress signal was sent out by Jamie Madrox aka Multiple Man. The roster is definitely different from the norm and it’ll be interesting to see how they work together. The All-New Inhumans, consisting of Crystal, Naja, Flint, Iso, Gorgon and Grid, go to Japan to supervise new Inhuman as the Terrigen Mists approach. I’ve always enjoyed this concept of the Inhumans ushering in the NuHumans to their society so I’m glad to see that it returned.

The X-Men stumbled upon diseased remains in the Muir Island Genetics Labs. The island is also weakly coated in Terrigen, so Scott starts to cough aggressively. The Inhumans tackle a random Hydra unit that wishes to capture the Inhumans, and a brief fight escalates. This fight mainly serves to show off the Inhumans and what they are capable of and it works well. The X-Men go outside and, to their horror, find hundreds of Multiple Man copies dying of the Terrigen Mist poisoning. Cyclops finds the original Jaime Madrox, who conveys the news that the Terrigen kills X-Men. As Scott relays this information to Hank, he passes out.

One of the NuHumans, Daisuke, displays his newfound ability to project energy that puts all non-Inhumans in the vicinity to sleep. Crystal speaks to him about how she wants to help him grow as an Inhuman and is willing to teach him further, fittingly saying that…

Cyclops, once awake back at base, tells his team the news about the Terrigen, blaming the Inhumans for Jaime’s death and all the others who’ve succumbed to the Terrigen poisoning. He declares that they need to take a stand against the Inhumans, fittingly saying that…

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Champions #1 Review:

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In a time where superhero media is dominated by story-lines pitting the characters against each other, where do we draw the line? Enter Champions: a story of young heroes fed up with the constant conflict between their idols who are going out on their own to make a difference.

Champions is perhaps the crux of what the Marvel NOW! initiative is centered around: young and old characters and how they interact in the world of today. And quite frankly, most of the young heroes we’ve grown to love are fed up with the constant Civil Wars and the Inhuman vs X-Men conflicts. Nova and Miles Morales Spider-Man quit the Avengers, Kamala Khan is having her thoughts about it too and Amadeus Cho aka Totally Awesome Hulk is running his own solo operation, deliberately staying away from the bigger heroes. We are even told that after the events that transpired in Civil War 2 the people of the world have had their view of superheroes greatly affected, seeing them as nothing more than constant annoyances rather than life savers.

What this presents is an interesting story about what it means to be a hero: specifically in the eyes of the young heroes against the old heroes. Mark Waid brilliantly displays this struggle throughout the issue, showing how past events have shaped the way our team thinks. Each character is also written with their own individual flare and characters play brilliantly off each other during conversations. The main eyes of which we see this story through are those of Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel, and Waid manages to capture the youthfulness of the character along with great personal moments. Even in general, Waid makes it known that this is a book that will aim for the teen demographic: a group of teenagers rebelling against higher authority to do what they feel is right links directly with what many teenagers go through daily. We even get a wonderful page showcasing all the new teen heroes that have popped up over the past two years. However, I do feel that Waid didn’t manage the tone as well towards the end of the issue as it could have been, but I’m sure this is an issue that can be smoothed out during the run.

I’ve never been a fan of Humberto Ramos and the way he draws his characters. The exaggerated features always put me off what I’m reading making it difficult for me to enjoy the book. However, Ramos’s art is decent in this issue, apart from a few noticeable scenes which look plain ridiculous. What draws the eye to the art is the bright colors by colorist Edgar Delgado who uses his popping pallet to make every page as fun and exciting as possible, especially when it comes to small details such as the contrast in Miles’s red eye outlines to the rest of his black suit; it just flows so well. I wouldn’t consider the art to be friendly to new readers who may find it slightly jarring, but it isn’t as off-putting as usual in my eyes.

Overall, Champions was a decent first looking into the youth of the Marvel Universe and is definitely something new readers may want to pick up, albeit for unusual art and a wobbly plot. Feel free to read further on for a spoiler-section analyzing the plot in more detail.

 

SPOILER SECTION: DISCUSSING THE PLOT (My More Informal Analysis)

After falling out with the Avengers over not wanting to assist clean-up and rebuilding a destroyed train track, Kamala Khan quits the Avengers; a very well-written scene showcasing how far the character has come since her introduction.

She contacts Nova and Miles Morales to tell them the news, which results in some brilliant witty dialogue between Nova and Miles. Via flashback we see that after the events of Civil War 2, Nova and Miles left the Avengers. Kamala wants to start a team of young heroes to help out where possible and the trio recruit Amadeus Cho, currently helping some miners stuck underground.

Cho then takes the trio to the Vision household where they recruit Viv Vision, daughter of the Vision, who can be used to detect crimes by her scanning the internet. Also she plays an online fighting game with Amadeus, which is pretty neat. She detects a smuggling of women at a nearby dockyard and the group goes to sort it out. This was unexpected and rather dark to me in a book that has up to this point been light-hearted and fun.

They confront the smuggler, a clown called Pagliacci, and the resulting fight ends with Pagliacci taking a bystander hostage. Miles disarms Pagliacci and they win the fight. The fight itself was ok, but the panel layout made it seem longer than it is. There was a large combination of large and small panels that made the page look weird.

However, the group learns that one of the women had died previously, and Amadeus Cho flies into a rage. While a crowd claims Cho should kill Pagliacci, Kamala speaks to them, showing how they are better than murder and want to help out as much as possible, as Champions. #Champions goes viral, and the team is ready to roll.

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