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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Jessica Jones Netflix Show Details & Logo

Edited by Robert Beach

Marvel’s new Netflix show Jessica Jones has finally made some tangible progress with a premiere date slotted for October and this spiffy new logo debuting. We’ve also started getting some detail as to the focus of the show and how it will adapt the groundbreaking Alias comics where Jessica Jones first appeared. For those of you who’ve never heard of Jessica Jones or Alias, her story is that she’s a woman with super powers who acted as a low-level superhero for a time before retiring to the role of superhero private investigator after a traumatic experience when she had her mind enslaved by the villainous Purple Man. The mind enslavement stuff was part of what made Alias a groundbreaking work in the early 2000s and walked hand-in-hand with author Brian Michael Bendis’ other popular early superhero comic Powers, which was itself turned into a PlayStation Network streaming show. 

The crux of the matter was Jessica Jones was raped by Purple Man using his mind-control abilities, and the experienced cause her to leave superhero life but still bring justice simply as herself, no secret identities required. It was an important work then and still is now given it’s an instance of rape in comics where it's actually used well and not just for cheap shock value. Though the attack itself doesn’t take place during the series, it hovers over the proceedings in a non-intrusive manner as Alias balanced a tone between harsh grittiness and some lighter tones. As for the show Jessica Jones, let’s take a look at what we know: 

Both Kevin Fiege and the showrunners on Jessica Jones have talked up this as a darker and more grounded series.  That fits with the overall trend in the Marvel Netflix material of a harsher and sleazier vibe to them, which is probably why Iron Fist has proved the most difficult property to get off the ground; however, Fiege has also mentioned that this will be an even darker show than Daredevil, which makes a certain amount of sense given the nature of the source material. 

Daredevil was a fun Netflix show, but it wasn’t exactly dark; in fact, I often say it was less grim and gritty and more sleaze and cheese. It’s visually dark with a stylistic affect grounded mostly in ‘80s urban blight crossed with modern aloof affluence, but the actual narrative is pretty basic superhero fair. Jessica Jones had her fair share of stories in this vein, even though it’s starting to seem like the show will focus more centrally on her origin and history, especially if it’s as dark as Marvel’s been claiming. 
Another key indicator of said dark realism in the story is Purple Man is going to be the main antagonist of Jessica Jones. All things considered this might be an indicator that Jessica Jones is going to work as a revenge show, like a gritty Marvel Comics version of Maleficent.  Additionally, the producers have mentioned that the show will have a vibe in tune with NBC’s Hannibal. It’s most likely what they mean by this is we’ll be meant to engage with Purple Man as a likable character. That might set off a few alarm bells, but it makes sense to me and I see where Marvel’s coming from. 

Subtly wheeling the audience into liking a villain like Purple Man before revealing what a sick and twisted monster he is can be one hell of a gut punch as the audience slowly runs out of excuses for his monstrous nature as seen in Hannibal or even Breaking Bad. If Marvel really commits to making a dark, serious Netflix show that revolves entirely around Jessica Jones’ rape, revenge, and redefinition of self, this would be a good way to spread that story out over 12 episodes. 
What stands out most to me in this entire quagmire of Jessica Jones media though is the logo design, specifically the way it conveys the idea that she is broken.  I’m most concerned about what this visual symbolism will mean for the show. The Alias comics worked so well because Jessica was defined beyond her attack; she still had the emotional scars of the event, but she was also a person in her own right with her own circle and her own identity. The book used context to craft a full life for her character. We saw Jessica at her worst moments, her best moments, and, most importantly, her normal moments in between. 

That’s was the genius of Bendis’ work on Alias trying to create normal people who are superheroes, finding a balance to a character’s highs and lows rather than defining them by one or the other. With this logo and everything, I have to wonder if Jessica Jones will serve more as an origin story for the character focusing on her as a broken woman putting her pieces back together. There’s nothing wrong with these quasi-origins as we saw with Daredevil; I just hope the appeal of Jessica Jones’ character doesn’t get lost in the dark. 

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