I was done with superhero comics when I met Jessica Jones.
In fairness, I’d been done a while. The late 90s broke me. I quit all the X-Titles, I walked away from Kitty and Rachel and ‘Yana and the whole soap-opera-mutant-mess. I couldn’t hack the Age of Apocalypse, the Age of Anhedonia, the Age of Accessorizing with Pouches. I quit, I quit comics, I walked away.
Of course, I kept reading Sandman. And Hellblazer. And Shade the Changing Man. And Love and Rockets. And Strangers in Paradise. I kept reading those, of course. Those didn’t count. Those weren’t actual comics, they were something else. Some sort of weird science-fiction-fantasy-horror-storytelling thing. Not comics.
But there I was, at The Source Comics and Games, picking up my Vertigo and Dark Horse titles, when I saw this cover. A woman’s face, and the title Alias. I flipped through it. It looked odd. Muddy, and dark, and full of profanity. I checked the name – Bendis. Him, I knew I liked. I liked Powers a lot – another “not really a comic” comic in my strange system. I bought the issue without noticing that it was a Marvel title.
And then I met Jessica Jones.
Jessica Jones was exactly what I needed from comics at that time. She was a failure, a fuck-up. She’d tried her best at the superhero game and failed. I related. I’d recently ended a relationship I had thought would last forever. We’d been planning on kids, we owned a house and two dogs, we were committed. I walked away. I’d tried my best and fucked it all up, and, yet, here I was – with a new relationship, and a new house, and we were talking about kids. How is that even possible?
How do you go on, when you have failed? How do you go on, when you know you are a failure?
Jessica Jones needed to know that. There she was, unable to be a super hero, yet completely unable to stop being a hero – even though it never did her any good. She just couldn’t seem to stop being the sort of person who did the right thing. Resentful, drunken, hung-over, and always angry, Jessica Jones kept doing the right things.
And after a while, she forgave herself for not being the perfect hero she had always meant to be.
Jessica Jones doesn’t have the answers. She has questions, and doubts, and worries. She worries about her husband, her kid, her barely-held-together life. But somewhere along the way, Jess learned to forgive herself. She’s learned what a second chance looks like when it’s offered. She learned how to love herself enough to take those second chances when they came.
My partner and I, we now have two kids. We have a whole bunch of dogs. We’re still in the house we bought together when I first met Jessica Jones. I read all sorts of comics now, superhero and other, and they are all comics. Somewhere along the way I’ve learned to see the second chances when they arrive. And, like Jessica Jones, I’ve learned to like myself enough to take them.