Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire
Season 1 Episode 1: “The Big Easy”
By Lauren Beukes, Vita Ayala, Sam Beckbessinger, Zoe Quinn, and Elsa Sjunneson
Narrated by Fryda Wolff
Jessica Jones isn’t your usual superhero. In fact, she doesn’t want to be a superhero at all. Even if you’ve never read the comic books or seen the Netflix series, the Serial Box exclusive Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire does a great job right off the bat with establishing this.
Season 1 Episode 1 of Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire is called “The Big Easy”. But as with most things involving Jessica, nothing is ever really easy. In fact, the first episode starts with her clinging to the fiberglass mascot perched on top of a runaway ice cream truck.
“The tinkly ice cream jingle is going off right next to her head, and Jessica punches the speakers to make it stop. The metal crumples under her fist and the music distorts but doesn’t die, becoming a sicklier version of itself, but just as loud. And now one of the soft-serve gangsters is leaning out the passenger window to try grabbing her, ridiculous in his sailor hat. And dammit, she did not sign up for this. She has therapy in an hour.”
Welcome to the world of Jessica Jones.
Superpowers, super problems
In case you were wondering, no, Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire isn’t a movie, TV show, or animated series. Serial Box is a premium digital audio and reading platform. They create serialized novels with a modern, multimedia twist, with each chapter released in weekly installments. I prefer using the mobile app, though you can also go to the website. The novels can be consumed as either an ebook or an audiobook.
One thing I really like about Jessica is that she’s very relatable, even if she’s not exactly a good role model. I love how quickly the first few paragraphs evoke the larger Marvel Universe and show her connection to other characters. Including a certain fellow resident of Hell’s Kitchen.
Episode 1 also deftly shows off her superpowers and sometimes not-so-super attitude. We readers quickly understand that she has super strength but isn’t invulnerable. She can fly but she always hates the landing part, so she prefers not to.
She is seeing a therapist to deal with her complex post-traumatic stress disorder. We also realize that she has a drinking problem, and that she has a mean temper if you piss her off. And that her experiences in life have made her cynical, though it does come in handy because she’s a private investigator.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire really makes Jessica come to life. I like that the authors have an engaging writing style that makes us feel Jessica’s world-weariness while also showing flashes of her sardonic wit. It’s down-to-earth, beautiful writing that propels the action along without resorting to purple prose (for instance, I loved Max Payne as a video game, but the narration and dialogue always made me wince), or trying hard to be grim and gritty.
Getting to know Jessica
I’m a comic book geek, and I’ve been a Marvel Comics fan since I was a kid. But I have to admit that I wasn’t that familiar with Jessica Jones before the Netflix series. I fell in love with the character while watching that series. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Krysten Ritter is one of my favorite actresses. The series made me interested in reading the comic books. And I’m happy to say that Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire is making me enjoy the character even more.
As someone who’s always found audiobooks boring, Serial Box was a revelation when I tried it out for the first time last year. It’s a true multimedia experience, with great scoring, sound effects, and narration. I was able to listen to Fryda Wolff’s narration, and her delivery is growing on me.
So Episode 1 gives us at least two reasons why this is called Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire. And a case involving a certain club in New York that Marvel fans are quite familiar with.
Jessica thinks this is the kind of easy case that her therapist wants her to take. “Something straightforward and uncomplicated that you can fix easily,” her therapist said.
Of course, we know it won’t be. This is Jessica Jones, after all.
So buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy but fascinating ride.
(Editor’s note: This review is based on an advanced reader copy provided by Serial Box. Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Playing with Fire Season 1 Episodes 1-3 will come out on May 28. Exclusively available on Serial Box.)