The series, which is lensed by Manuel Billeter (Person of Interest and Law & Order) opens at night in the grimy Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. Jones is on a stakeout, waiting in the shadows to catch an adulterous couple. We hear her in voiceover, which sets the world-weary yet darkly comedic tone of the series: “New York may be the city that never sleeps,” she cracks, “but it sure as hell sleeps around.”
Jessica Jones is certainly not your typical Marvel comic book adaptation. Just ask Marvel Head of Television Jeph Loeb (Smallville, Lost and Heroes), an award-winning comic book writer whose credits include Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Hulk and Iron Man. Way back in 2002, Loeb wrote the foreword for the Alias collection, the original comic series (created by Brian Michael Bendis) that introduced the hard-bitten female lead. “Jessica’s world isn’t pretty,” Loeb explains in that introduction. “There are no capes here. No secret headquarters. Just the underbelly of the Marvel universe cut open for all of us to be amazed by.”
Loeb goes on to provide some context for the rise of that Marvel universe.
“Back then [in 2002], comics were seen as just geek food or adolescent male fantasies, and you were widely suspected to live in your mom’s basement if you read them,” he adds. “However, those of us who were into comics knew the secret. They were heartfelt stories, grounded in reality, with an element of the fantastic – hyperdrama at an elevated level. Then Spider-Man came along. It had a real director, a real star, and became one of the most successful films of all time. [Suddenly] the genre was taken seriously.” So seriously, in fact, that Marvel put out Alias on its MAX R-rated imprint, because it was not safe for after-school reading. This was exactly what Jessica Jones’ showrunner Melissa Rosenberg [see Exposure, page 34], who wrote on Dexter (Showtime) and was screenwriter on all five Twilight movies, was looking for in creating a female superhero.
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