Meet Jessica Jones, former costumed super hero, now a private investigator. Creation of Brian Michael Bendis, Jessica appeared in Alias for 28 wonderful issues, then starred as an assistant reporter for the Daily Bugle in Pulse, before now becoming part of the backup cast for New Avengers. She's married to Luke Cage, and they have a child together.
The "Alias" series was part of the "MAX Comics" label by Marvel, which means it's full of grown-up stuff. Not really grown-up, no serious nudity, but there's a far bit of violence, sexual references, adult situations, and lots of strong language (F*%# is spelt in full and used frequently). Alias is sheer brilliance, as it follows Jessica through some weird but fascinating cases.
Jessica herself has some super-powers, though she doesn't like to make a big deal of it. Several super-powered characters make appearance, including Luke Cage of course, and Jessica's friend Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel. Daredevil appears quite a bit too. Several of the cases Jessica takes on are super-power related, but not all of them are.
The Secret Origin of Jessica Jones began last issue in Alias #22, and concludes with part two in this issue. Jessica's family was killed in a car crash, for which she feels partly responsible. That same crash saw her coated with an experimental military chemical, emerging from a coma six months later with no apparent ill-effects.
Jessica has accepted the offer to be adopted by the Jones family, and returned back to Forest Hills and Midtown High. It's fourteen years ago now, roughly one year after we first saw Jessica at that same school... which was also the day we first saw Peter at Midtown High.
Jessica isn't finding life easy at High School. Like any child from unusual circumstances, she is shunned and occasionally mocked by her peers. Flash Thompson is particularly unkind. Jessica calls them all F@$#ers, and runs away. Peter Parker tracks her down. He tries to tell her that he understands. But before he can explain that he also lost his parents, Jessica assumes that he his offering his pity, and rejects him. She runs once more, visions and images filling her thoughts, until she finds that she has run into the air. She's flying, albeit very badly.
She crashes into the sea, swearing all the way. She nearly drowns, flies clear, falls again, and this time is saved from drowning by Thor. Jessica speaks her mind freely, causing the Asgardian to comment pejoratively on the matter of the young Midgardian maiden's language before flying away.
Jessica returns home, and asks her (new) dad why some superheroes are popular, and other's aren't. She also asks him what he would do if he gained powers. His answer to the first is "Image". And to the second, he figure he had a bit of a responsibility, but it's hard to know what to risk your life for. But in any case he would dress better than Spider-Man.
In the park, Jessica experiments. She's strong enough to run and break a big tree. She can fly, though it doesn't come easily.
Meanwhile, The Scorpion is robbing a laundromat. He's got no class, that guy. But he needs the cash to get out of town. As he heads out of the door with his pitiful loot... CRASH! Jessica drops on him from above and knocks him flat out. The crowd asks... "Are you a super-hero?" Her answer, after a pause... "Yeah, I am."
No costume though. I guess that came later.
Poignant, but understated. I guess that's Bendis all over, really.
It's great to know a bit more about Jessica Jones, who has very quickly become one of my favorite super-types. In fact, Bendis has gathered a fascinating bunch of characters for his New Avengers. Or perhaps more to the point, he's very good at taking characters and making them fascinating.
Again, Peter's involvement is done very well. Bendis totally resists the urge to tinker in the slightest with Peter's origin. He weaves his story in without creating any continuity questions, or tinkering in any way with Peter's own history. Full marks for that.
Full marks also for this story. Five glorious webs. Alias is perhaps the best comic book Marvel has produced in the last decade.