Fans of Marvel’s Netflix series Jessica Jones can rejoice: season two is finally streaming. The series follows a private detective with extraordinary powers. The first season of the show became renowned for its incorporation of film noir elements. Film noir is defined as “a style or genre of cinematic films marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, and menace.” Jones is a deeply scarred heroine who has resonated with viewers around the world.
To promote the show’s return, Marvel and Netflix released pulp fiction-inspired illustrations. Each episode has its own illustration and the title.
(The only downside to the illustrations is that if you look at all of them, they most certainly contain spoilers. Those who want to remain 100% spoiler free should turn back now!)
The ingenious promotion is in keeping with the paper-visual origins of the character, which originally debuted in the world of comics. The show is all about female-empowerment, so for season two it tapped female directors for each episode. The show also hired female illustrators to create the powerful pulp images below.
The showrunner for Jessica Jones is Melissa Rosenberg. It was her idea to release the episode titles with the illustrations. The posters expertly depict the action in the same way that pulp novels once dominated the paperback scene. Pulp fiction (not the movie!) were the successor to the dime novels and penny dreadfuls. They often started life as short stories in pulp magazines. They reached their height in the 1930’s and 1940’s, when every newsstand in America carried dozens of magazines. Although known for their cheap quality, they also became popular because of their lurid imagery. The illustrations showed women in peril, men coming to the rescue, mysterious villains, and heroes in precarious situations.
Over the years the short story format popularized in pulp magazines expanded to longer novels and paperbacks. Some of the most recognized authors include Dashiell Hammett, Ray Bradbury, Raymond Chandler, Max Brand and H.P. Lovecraft. Equally interesting are the hundreds of less-well known authors, who still played a role in shaping mystery, detective fiction, science fiction, and fantasy.
Jessica Jones considers herself a failed superhero because her efforts initially resulted in tragedy. The character gives up on using her special abilities and instead moves to New York City, where she opens up a detective agency named Alias Investigations. In the first season of the show, she battles a villain and her own demons. The show deals with dark themes like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She also comes into contact with another Marvel hero, Luke Cage. The two also appear in the Marvel and Netflix show The Defenders, which debuted to mix reviews last year. A second season of Luke Cage is also in the works for later in 2018.
Season two moves beyond Jones’ struggle against a diabolical villain and explores her origins. The character is portrayed by Krysten Ritter. Ritter has the ability to convey a damaged person with originality and wit. The character narrates the action in a wry voice and the episodes use many of the conventions of noir fiction, like the hard-drinking, hard-boiled detective.