REVIEW: Jessica Jones #16 (How Could God Be So Mean?)

The Purple Man uses Carol to lure Jessica back to her destroyed office. There, Jessica breaks down and does something she hasn’t done in years.

JJ Cover.jpg

Authors: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Michael Gaydos
Inkers: Michael Gaydos
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

What You Need to Know:

Jessica Jones has abandoned her former superhero life as Jewel to find some normalcy. She has started her own Private Investigation firm, Alias Investigations, married former Avenger Luke Cage, and together they have a little girl, Danielle. However her tragic past as the victim of The Purple Man, Zebediah Kilgrave, a psychopath with the ability to compel people to do whatever he says, always haunts her. This trauma causes her to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and, for a while, alcoholism.

Jessica has spent the last few months destroying and reuniting her family, working undercover for SHIELD, losing her office to an explosion caused by Maria Hill, and dealing with a twisted murder perpetrated by a man claiming to be from another dimension. On top of it all, she has learned that Kilgrave has escaped from Ryker’s Island Prison and SHIELD custody. Jessica has enlisted the help of her best friend, Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. But after The Purple Man goes too far, using Jessica’s daughter to speak with her, Jessica decides she must meet with him. Sending anyone she cares about far away, she meets him at a small abandoned bakery to find out what he wants from her.

After stalling for a while, The Purple Man confesses he needs Jessica’s help but doesn’t get the chance to elaborate. An assassination attempt, perpetrated by Jessica and Carol, fails to take The Purple Man out. He loses his temper and has the people around the meeting spot attack each other as a diversion while he hides himself and resorts to plan B; Taking control of Carol to speak with Jessica from a safe distance.

What You’ll Find Out:

Jessica, upset that her friend is now tied up in this mess, tries to lead The Purple Man away from the crowd outside the bakery. After realizing he isn’t following, she heads back to find the civilians assaulting each other. After agreeing to have a conversation, The Purple Man leads Jessica away from the street and back to her destroyed office.

JJ tries to lure Kilgrave.jpg

After a confrontation with the building’s owner in which Jessica gets a scolding and The Purple Man shows his true colors, Jessica and The Purple Man head inside. Before the exchange begins, Jessica pulls a bottle of whiskey from a hidden hole in the wall and takes a long pull. She calls The Purple Man a monster, to which he retorts his newest theory that he may be a god. Seeing as he has never felt he fit in and that we can never truly know what god is, he theorizes that he may be of a new breed of godhood. Arguing that she may not know what he is, Jessica says he can’t be a god because by reason of his lack of empathy for others. She indicates that his power could do so much good in the right hands: fix people, heal people, stop crime. But instead that all he brings in his wake is destruction with an apathetic attitude.

Finally listening, The Purple man decides to let Carol go, and meets with Jessica face to face once again. While she dreads the fact that she believes this is how she is going to die, The Purple Man once again asks for help. He tells Jessica he wants to make the world a better place, but he needs her help.

Kilgrave asks for help.jpg

What Just Happened?

It’s not uncommon for Jessica Jones comics to get psychological, but this issue really digs deep. Jessica has been pushed to rock bottom, and her reflections of self-blame really bring out how much she cares about others. Despite her tough exterior, which has softened over the years, Jessica is a character who always wants to be the hero. As The Purple Man works his way through harming and using others just to get Jessica’s attention, she has learned a few tricks. When he has other people harm, she knows she can’t help them, otherwise it will only make things worse. A classic abuse tactic, Jessica knows that this is only to assert who has the power in their relationship.

He'll make it worse

The Purple Man hurts dozens in the street and goes so far as to tell Jessica’s former landlady to never speak again, emphasizing his psychopathic tendencies. Jessica feels as though she can no longer control the situation, so she reverts back to an old habit: whiskey. When confronted with helping Kilgrave understand what he is, she tries to make him understand how awfully he behaves. Despite the fact that he’s spent the issue tormenting Jessica and acting out in the worst ways possible, her monologue about how much good he could do with his power seems to actually influence The Purple Man. Jessica finds him, no longer using Carol as a mask, in a vulnerable position. It would seem The Purple Man only tried so hard to keep his power over Jessica because of his defenselessness. He ultimately requests Jessica’s help so that he can do some good for the world.

Jessica’s healing is also going along well. Although the issue brings her to her bottom and back to her drinking habit, she has found some coping skills. After her confrontation with The Purple Man presents her the opportunity to call him out for his horrible actions, she has a moment of clarity that allows her to recognize that, despite her candor, she’s still alive and well. Jessica’s acknowledgment of her well being in this situation can be essential for her future in coping with her PTSD.

It will be interesting to see Bendis’ take on the premise of Jessica helping The Purple Man use his powers for good. The Jessica Jones Netflix series has explored this scenario, but Bendis may have a much more unique take backed by his history and creation of Jessica. The situation is distinctly different because of Jessica’s love of her husband and daughter. She may come to the conclusion she can’t spend all her time with The Purple Man for new reasons than her on-screen counterpart. Another important difference from MCU Jessica is the number of friends she has, characterized in a final scene when Jessica recounts what she thinks others life will be like without her. This may be the way Jessica sidesteps and defeats The Purple Man once and for all.

Rating: 9.0/10

Final Thoughts:  Digging deep, we are treated to a look inside Jessica’s head. Always one to blame herself, she is put in circumstances beyond her control, and she resents it. Conversely, The Purple Man’s ego is put on display. A character developing issue, it’s the strongest in the arc so far.

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