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'Jessica Jones Vol. 1: Uncaged!' was worth the decade-long wait

Comic Books

‘Jessica Jones Vol. 1: Uncaged!’ was worth the decade-long wait

You’re going to be hearing a lot about Jessica Jones and her colleagues in the coming months. Iron Fist‘s first season has been out on Netflix for some time now, meaning all that’s left is the team-up series The Defenders finally joining together "the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, the smartass detective, the righteous ex-con and the kid with the glowing fist" in one show. On the comic book side of things, Marvel recently announced that The Defenders #1 will hit shelves June 14th.

'Jessica Jones Vol. 1: Uncaged!' was worth the decade-long wait
Jessica Jones Vol. 1: Uncaged!
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos
Publisher: Marvel Comics

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Enter Jessica Jones, the Brian Michael Bendis-penned series that began late last year. Jones hadn’t had her own series since the acclaimed Alias ended in January 2004, so fans of the gritty hero, including me, were understandably excited about this new series by the original team of Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos. Add in the increased interest in the character from her excellent Netflix series, and this comic became one of my most anticipated of last year. Was it worth the wait?

Unquestionably. Jessica Jones is a more than worthy successor to the classic Alias, and should be an engaging read for both veteran fans of the character and new readers whose only Jessica Jones experience comes from the Netflix show. That’s no easy task, but Bendis accomplishes it by throwing us right into the story after Jones is released from prison. This story arc doesn’t provide a lot of backstory in the way of exposition, instead opting to hit the ground running with a case for Jessica to solve right out of the gate. From here, we’re naturally fed bits and pieces of what happened to land Jessica in jail, her current situation with estranged husband Luke Cage and their child, and her standing with the Avengers.

This information is masterfully disseminated while Jessica is attempting to solve a case for a Ms. Brownlee, whose husband believes he is actually from another reality that the Avengers destroyed before forcing him into this one. It’s a unique and at times mind-bending concept, and Mr. Brownlee’s explanation to Jessica is one of the highlights of this book. His view on life is almost nihilistic, as he keeps reiterating that nothing that has ever happened actually matters. A sentiment the often pessimistic Jessica Jones can relate to all too well.

'Jessica Jones Vol. 1: Uncaged!' was worth the decade-long wait

Michael Gaydos’ artwork dutifully supports the interesting concepts at play here. There isn’t a lot of action to work with as this is far from your typical superhero fare, but the watercolors help give this book a unique play on the noir feel these types of stories are usually presented with. There is an excellent page during the aforementioned confession from Mr. Brownlee of Jessica’s life flashing before her eyes as she contemplates Brownlee’s nihilistic message. It’s extremely well done and cuts to the core of Jessica as a character.

I am somewhat of two minds with the artwork, however. While I love the style and a number of the panels, I can’t help but feel sometimes facial expressions look a bit wonky. There are some panels where Jessica just looks plain silly, which can take you out of the narrative. Regardless, this is a minor quibble and Gaydos’ style fits Bendis’ writing quite well.

Is It Good?

This is exactly the comic book Jessica Jones fans have been waiting for. The character has been given a new lease on life thanks in no small part to the wildly successful Netflix series, and her first solo series in over a decade should be required reading for anyone even remotely interested in the upcoming Defenders series. And considering the quality of Jessica Jones Vol. 1, nearly everyone should be interested.

'Jessica Jones Vol. 1: Uncaged!' was worth the decade-long wait
Jessica Jones Vol. 1: Uncaged!
Is it good?
Worth the over decade-long wait, and required reading for anyone interested in The Defenders.
Excellent self-contained mystery that also explains Jessica's situation without dumping exposition
Gritty artwork supports the intriguing concepts at play here
Jessica is a relatable and interesting character
Some stylistic choices aren't my favorite.

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