Friday, November 20, 2015

Jessica Jones S01 E01: AKA Ladies Night

I guess I should probably make this confession up front. I came to the character of Jessica Jones late. When writer/creator Brian Michael Bendis controversially came on board the Avengers franchise to much fanfare and derision, I sought out his other work just to see what we Avengers fans were in for.

My first impression was mixed. Bendis was, and is, a fantastic writer, but his style, no matter how things turned out (and they turned out well, he turned the comic into a million dollar franchise), was not for my Earth's Mightiest Heroes. I did not want Wolverine or Spider-Man on the team, or Spider-Woman or Sentry or Ares for that matter. I did not want the years long story arc of Secret Invasion. And most of all, I did not want deconstructionist thinking in my comic books. Bendis did all of these things, and yes, in hindsight, they all worked. But it wasn't my Avengers.

However, that said, in his other projects - before, during, after (and including) Avengers, they did work. Most notable and critically acclaimed was Alias, the title that brought us Jessica Jones. Operating outside and within the superhero universe that was the Marvel Universe, Jessica Jones was a former super-heroine, Jewel, who was now a private investigator. Later continuity implants placed her among the Avengers, and in the present day involved her with Luke Cage, now an Avenger, living with the team along with her and Luke's child. Because comics.

Now I normally dislike retcons unless they make sense and are absolutely necessary. Sometimes they are the mark of lazy writing. Bendis wanted Jewel to have a past with the Avengers so there it was. Don't get me started. Alias had some great stories, and some great storytelling, but the climax was what happened to Jessica to turn her from superhero to private investigator? This big question was the floater in the pool until we found out, and it appears to be the thrust of the Netflix TV series as well - the Purple Man.

"Marvel's Jessica Jones" was created for Netflix by, and the first episode was written by Melissa Rosenberg, and she's also an executive producer, and the showrunner. She is the award winning head writer of "Dexter," who also adapted most of the Twilight saga for the screen, and worked on "Birds of Prey," which was far better than anyone wants to remember. I am hopeful, and have faith in her abilities - despite how "Dexter" ended.

Also among the numerous executive producers for "Jessica Jones" is the character and series co-creator Brian Michael Bendis. Shouldn't he be busy wrecking the Iron Man comic or making the "Powers" TV series better? Yeah, that was sarcasm. Pardon me, I'm still bitt er about what he did to my Avengers…

The opening credit sequence is very cool, with graphics showcasing the art of David Mack, and I like the theme by Sean Callery. He's also scored "Homeland," "Le Femme Nikita," and "24" in both television and videogame formats.

I love the opening line of the series: "New York may be the city that never sleeps, but it sure does sleep around." Jessica is very old school Raymond Chandler down and out private dick, but one must wonder - would we have gotten such a gratuitous panties shot out of a sleeping Philip Marlowe?

From the first second we are thrust into the mood and vibe of this world. Film noir but in vibrant dark neon, mood music, and classic voiceover from private investigator Jessica Jones. Whatever my reservations about Krysten Ritter, they dissolved quickly. And without fanfare, even if one hasn't seen the trailers for the show, we get the hint, less than three minutes in, that Jessica may be more than we think.

There's also that longer than needed shot of the bus ad - the "Trish Talk" radio show - introducing one of my favorite comic book characters, one technically older than the corporate name of Marvel itself, Patsy Walker. No relation. And in this incarnation, she's blonde and going by Trish. I can't wait for more of her, whether she's 'catty' or not.

Carrie-Anne Moss' Ms. Jeri Hogarth is a gender-switched womanizing lesbian version of Jeryn Hogarth, a lawyer who worked closely with Danny (Iron Fist) Rand. We also get our first glimpse of Mike Colter as Rand's partner from the comics, Luke Cage, while Jessica is on stakeout and peeping tomming it while trying to stay awake. The scenes with Luke Cage are the only places where Krysten Ritter falters. The words are there as is the direction, and Mike Colter is great, but there is no chemistry at least for me. This is the only time where Ritter seems remote, robotic, almost as if she's reading the words. I didn't believe her at all.

And then we also got our first taste of David Tennant's Kilgrave, the series' big bad, known as Zebediah Killgrave - The Purple Man - in the comics. I love the purple neon effect of his powers, and now we know why Jessica drinks herself to sleep. The Purple Man's power is such that he's caused post-traumatic stress disorder in Jessica. The drinking helps, and reciting street names helps. Either way he still haunts her. When Jessica finds that he has set her up with her current case, finding a Midwestern couple's daughter, solely to bring her back into his web, she freaks out. A drop in on her old friend Trish to ask for money to get away polarizes Jessica to do the right thing and rescue the girl.

And that's when we find out just what kind of sociopath Kilgrave is. The ending is horrific. If "Daredevil" raised the stakes in what can be done in comic book superhero television, "Jessica Jones" takes it to a whole new level. I can't wait for more.

No comments:

Post a Comment