Jessica Jones’s life is never all that cheerful, but it took a drastic turn for the worse last issue when the Purple Man forced his way back into her life in the most stomach-churning way possible: taking control of her toddler, Danielle, and instantly putting Jessica in one of his infamous impossible conundrums. As Jones asks herself in this issue, does she kill her own daughter to save her own life? Or let her daughter kill her and eventually be given control of her own faculties again, to see what she had just done?
Purple Man is one of the most truly horrifying villains in the Marvel Universe. He’s not the strongest, nor does he have control over the cosmos, but the type of psychological warfare he’s able to declare on his enemies is nothing short of revolting. All he had to do was make Danielle say a few words at the end of last issue to hit me harder than any gruesome physical violence could have. It makes for one hell of a story, though, and I was eagerly anticipating the followup to see how Jessica dealt with it.
Unfortunately, we don’t see nearly any of the Purple Man in issue #14. We do see the rest of the horrifying scene we left off on last issue, which is suitably unnerving and creepy. From there, Jessica turns to her loved ones: Luke Cage, Carol Danvers, et al, for protection and advice. A face-to-face meetup with Purple Man himself is looming over the issue, which reads like the calm before the storm in a horror movie, filled with an unshakable sense of dread on every page.
Michael Gaydos’s artwork knocks it out of the park here, selling every uneasy moment and furtive glance perfectly. His gritty artwork, aided by Matt Hollingsworth’s equally dirty and muted color palette, sets the exact tone this unsettling story deserves. Even the cover of this issue is fantastic — I would love to put a print of it on my wall.
Of course, this is all in the Marvel Universe. In our universe, shocking news broke yesterday that Brian Michael Bendis is leaving Marvel, signing a multi-year exclusive deal with DC Comics. Jessica Jones is the first place my head went to upon hearing the news. I love this series, and the difficult subjects it tackles are so relatable, even if it is ultimately about a woman with superpowers and a man who produces pheromones that allow him to control people’s actions. Bendis has taken this character and made her into one of the most human, tragic characters Marvel has to offer, while also fitting her into the greater superhero pantheon. I’ll greatly miss his take on this and many other characters in the Marvel Universe, though I am excited to see what he does with some of DC’s properties.
Is It Good?
This story arc is absolutely bone-chilling. While this issue taken by itself doesn’t progress the story all that much, it heightens the looming sense of dread cast over Jessica and her family perfectly. This is one of the most poignant, tragic, and well written stories on shelves today, and it will stick with you well after you’re done reading it.