This week’s final issue of Jessica Jones isn’t just the last comic about Jessica Jones that her creators, Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, may ever work on. It’s one of the last comics that Bendis, a 20-year veteran of Marvel comics, may ever write for the company.
And what’s so brilliant about Jessica Jones #18 is that it isn’t just a goodbye to the character — it’s a farewell from her creator to the Marvel Universe. A tribute not just to Jessica herself, but to Bendis’ long history at Marvel, and the characters he created or left a huge impact on.
It’s been an eventful six months for Brian Michael Bendis. In November, the comics world was rocked by the news that the creator of Miles Morales, Jessica Jones and Ironheart — the writer who’d made Ultimate Spider-Man more popular than regular Spider-Man and overseen some of the Avengers’ most memorable recent event books — was leaving Marvel for an exclusive contract with DC Comics. In December, he nearly died, hospitalized for a week with a MRSA infection; his face “swelled shut.” In February, the scope of his move to DC Comics was revealed: Bendis would be taking the reins on the superhero of all superheroes, Superman, starting with the 1,000th issue of Action Comics, the first superhero comic in history.
Action Comics #1,000 hits stands on April 18, and so this month marks the end of Bendis’ work at Marvel. Jessica Jones has always been a character Bendis used to access all corners of the Marvel Universe, and so it makes sense that he would use her final issue to serve as his farewell to all of his corners as well.
“I wanted to give Jessica one perfect day,” he said in a letter to fans at the end of the issue. “Not a perfect day for you or me, but a perfect day for her. A case that challenges her. A case she solves. A case only she could have solved. All while maintaining her shit. A perfect ‘her’ day. They are so rare. I thought that is what I owe Jessica. One perfect day.
“And all the while paying off my most loyal readers with the chance to go back and reread how I have planted seeds for this story for years in all my books.”
How does he manage it? Well, Jessica gets a new case from an old and very minor Bendis character: Track down an obscure Marvel villain, reunite two lovers. And in the process of all that, she has to talk to every superhero who’s matched fists with that villain lately — and that list is a who’s who of Bendis standbys.
First up is Miles Morales, of course, the Spider-Man of the Ultimate Universe, whom Bendis made so popular that he was incorporated into the main timeline.
Then there’s Peter Parker, Spider-Man of the regular universe:
And of course, Riri Williams, the genius, black teenage girl Bendis created to fill Tony Stark’s boots after his untimely (and temporary) demise:
There are appearances from Luke Cage, whom Bendis revived in the pages of Alias; and even the supervillain the Owl, whom Bendis used as a running gag in his Daredevil.
All of them contributing, in small ways, to Jessica Jones’ perfect day.
“I am very deeply proud of Jessica Jones. Not of MY work but of what blossomed out of it,” Bendis said in his end-of-issue letter, referring to his collaborators on Jessica Jones comics as well as the staff of the Netflix series and many others.
Bendis expressed his deep amazement that creating Jessica Jones in Alias could have led him to him grabbing a quick lunch with Michael Gaydos, only to realize that the women at the next table were talking animatedly about her Netflix series — and even more that it could have led to him getting up on a stage to accept a Peabody Award. And that blend of the blessedly fantastic with the mundane and happy permeates the final issue.
Pick it up for yourself and it might not make your day perfect — but it could help.