REVIEW: ‘The Variants,’ Issue #1

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The Variants #1 - But Why Tho

The Variants #1 is written by Gail Simone, illustrated & colored by Phil Noto, and lettered by VC’s Cory Petit. It’s published by Marvel Comics. Jessica Jones has lived through multiple lives and identities – a superhero as Jewel, a private investigator, and wife and mother. Her time as a private investigator comes to the forefront when Daredevil asks for her help in solving a case. Said case brings up bad memories for Jessica when she learns that the girl she’s supposed to be investigating has been under the control of Zebediah Kilgrave, aka the Purple Man, who abused her early in her superhero career. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, she encounters two mysterious versions of herself.

Though the concept of the multiverse and alternate takes on a character are becoming commonplace in Marvel’s stories, some of the best stories to utilize this concept tackle the core concepts of the characters. A key example is Spider-Man, with both Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and Spider-Man: No Way Home exploring the core concepts of the web-slinger by having him meet alternate versions of himself. The Variants is an interesting role, as Jessica’s alternate selves don’t show up until the end of the issue. But it still manages to explore the various elements of what makes Jessica the character she is, while examining her past in a fresh new way.

That’s thanks to Simone, whose scripting perfectly captures the acerbic nature of Jones. Simone’s best known for her work on Birds of Prey and Domino; it only makes sense that a character like Jessica would be in her wheelhouse. And in the same vein as her creators Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, Simone makes Jessica feel connected to the Marvel Universe. She has lengthy conversations with Daredevil, and even stops the gangster Tombstone from robbing her favorite coffee shop. Like any well-rounded protagonist, Jessica has moments of strength and weakness. When she learns about the involvement of the Purple Man in Murdock’s case, it’s more than enough to get her to verbally rip the Man Without Fear a new one.

The Variants also happens to be one of the most gorgeous comics I’ve read this year, thanks to Noto’s work. His art is lush in color and rich in detail, as well as extremely expressive. A key example comes at the beginning of the book, when Jessica ruminates on the night before her marriage to Cage. She went to a department store to try on different shades of lipstick. Through a series of panels, Noto shows Jessica’s face going through a range of expressions including concern and sometimes outright bafflement. Each of these panels is accompanied by a caption from Petit, which takes the reader inside Jessica’s state of mind and happens to be perfect for a character who’s a private investigator.

The Variants #1 is a tale that’s perfect for Jessica Jones fans and manages to find a fresh take on the multiverse concept. I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since it was announced, and it more than lived up to the hype. Just about the only way it could be more perfect is if Krysten Ritter was somehow able to narrate it.

The Variants #1 is available wherever comics are sold.


4.5

TL;DR

The Variants #1 is a tale that’s perfect for Jessica Jones fans and manages to find a fresh take on the multiverse concept. I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since it was announced, and it more than lived up to the hype. Just about the only way it could be more perfect is if Krysten Ritter was somehow able to narrate it.

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