January 28, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Noteworthy Issues: The Variants #1 (July, 2022)

Jessica Jones has her own multiverse adventure.

Hey, Gail Simone wrote something for Marvel?  I mean, I think she’s done that before though I can’t remember exactly what she did off-hand, but I know her best for her DC work.

And it’s something with Jessica Jones in the lead?  OK, now I’m interested.

Issue:  The Variants #1, July 2022

Writer:  Gail Simone

Artist:  Phil Noto

The Plot:  Jessica Jones investigates herself…sort of.

Commentary:  OK, so the cover and the basic premise shows Jessica Jones teaming up with, well, herself.  Alternate versions of herself from across the multiverse.  To which I say…why not?  Everyone else gets to travel the multiverse, and Jessica is as good a candidate as any.  However, there aren’t many variants of Jessica in this issue, and most of them show up at the end of the issue.  There isn’t much else to say about all that as Jessica herself isn’t necessarily given much to go on.

Instead, Simone’s script basically shows Jessica being Jessica as she preps for her wedding to Luke Cage.  There’s a Matt Murdock appearance, and she has a stop at a store where she tries out various shades of lipstick.  Something tells me the lipstick thing isn’t the sort of plot development that her creator Brian Michael Bendis would have come up with, but it seems like a very Simone-ish concept of a woman trying on different colors of make-up since she is completely not the sort of woman who normally wears such stuff.  She isn’t even really aware of what the different colors would work best for her wedding without a helpful salesgirl.

So, what does this issue do?  It basically establishes who Jessica is here.  While Jessica on her Netflix show could be described as a hardnosed, cynical woman who played the “too cool for school” bit to cover up her PTSD, Bendis’s version was mostly self-conscious and awkward.  She had bad luck as a superhero, so she gave it up.  And the bad luck was the sort of bad luck that doesn’t really happen outside of a mature readers book.

That trouble appears here as Jessica gets an ominous warning: she may have a posthypnotic trigger implanted in her by the Purple Man to kill her loved ones on the tenth anniversary of her departure.  Now, Jessica’s departure wasn’t really something the Purple Man did by choice if I remember right, but Jessica is dealing with the wedding, the knowledge that she might try to kill Luke and her infant daughter in the next few days, and the fact that a previous Purple Man victim is going to prison for that self-same crime caused by latent mind control that Matt Murdock wasn’t able to defend in court.

I would think that there would be a mind control protocol in a superhero universe, but what do I know?

Anyway, the issue ends with Jessica coming face-to-face with someone who looks like her and hits like her.  As first issues go, it works to introduce Jessica to new readers, show how Simone is handling the character from here, and set up just enough of the multiverse mystery to carry the story forward.  It’s a good, solid start.

Grade:  B

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