If you haven’t seen it already, Netflix released a teaser for Jessica Jones over the weekend. It is a thing of beauty.

As my friend and fellow blogger (over at The Catholic Geeks) Andy Hauge observed, it sums up the tone of the show perfectly. 

Most bios of Jessica Jones have her original Marvel Comics history: namely, that she’s a washed-out Avenger trying to survive as a private investigator. Since this is (supposedly; not that Marvel Studios actually cares about the shows) the same universe as the movies, this can’t happen here. However, it’s integral to her character that she’s a failed superhero, and this teaser encapsulates that idea without a single word, and without even showing her face.

Visually, the clothing is what grabs your attention; it might be easy to miss that empty bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon as you wait for something to happen, but it’s still pretty obvious. But what grabs my attention is the reason we have such bright sunlight: it’s just shy of 3 PM, according to both the screen text and the old-fashioned clock by her bedside. If we assume a standard 8 hours of sleep, that means she went to bed at 7 AM, after sunrise; but judging from her reaction, she hasn’t had a full night’s — er, day’s sleep.

This visual absolutely screams depression, and it’s easy to feel a mixture of scorn and pity as you see her like this. And then the clock is destroyed, and you suddenly realize there’s more to it. Nothing else in the room has been destroyed, not that we’ve seen, and yet she has the super-strength to casually squeeze a clock to pieces. That level of repressed anger, combined with the time of day and the empty bottle of bourbon, is a scary combination.

I’m not normally in favor of stories where the hero is shown as unusually flawed. That doesn’t mean I want heroes without flaws; I just want them to be realistic. A hero who can’t function isn’t much of a hero, much less a believable character. It’s also very hard to get the audience to sympathize with and root for that character. The Byronic hero is difficult to do well.

But when you succeed? Ah, yes. When you succeed, it too is a thing of beauty. And with the success of Daredevil, I have confidence that the show will deliver.

That Byronic image is what we are shown here. It is a picture of a woman who outwardly appears normal, if dark and unconcerned with herself, and that few if anyone realizes is half a step away from total self-destruction. We are opening on a woman who is balancing on the edge of a cliff, and we wonder which way she’s going to move. Even if we feel confident the story will lead away from the realm of the Shakespearean tragedy, that realm is still where we start: wondering how she will succeed, just how far down she might fall before recovering, and what her survival will cost her.

Bravo, Netflix. Bravo. I’m looking forward to November 20th.