Who Is Jessica Jones?
On Friday November 20th, Marvel and Netflix are going to drop their second series, Jessica Jones. If you managed to catch it I reviewed the pilot back in October for New York Comic Con and I mentioned that the shoe is going to set the bar even higher than Daredevil. I took the day off of work to find out for sure but when I’ve mentioned how excited I am for this series I’ve had to explain it to a lot of people. Jessica Jones is probably next to only Guardians of the Galaxy when it comes to obscure Marvel characters that no one has ever heard of. Here a brief, hopefully as spoiler free as possible, history of who Jessica Jones is and why you should be super excited about this series.
Jessica Jones is a character from Marvel’s MAX imprint Alias** that ran from 2001-2004 for a total of twenty-eight issues. It was created and written by Brian Michael Bendis, who is currently writing half of Marvel comics at the moment, and artist Michael Gaydos. Marvel’s MAX was where Marvel printed a lot of R rated comics as they reached for a more mature audience. It was reported that Alias was the reason Marvel created the MAX line. It has also been reported that this was a storyline originally intended for Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman, but when Bendis couldn’t work that out he named her Jessica Jones instead.
The best way to describe the history of Jessica Jones is to say to someone “you know how in superhero comics the hero clashes with the villain but everything works out in the end? Well, it didn’t work out for Jessica”. She was a short-lived and forgotten hero (they retroactively added her to the canon) named Jewel, who was captured and tortured by the villain Zebediah Killgrave, aka The Purple Man. In the comics it is very explicit what happened to Jessica and just how violated she was and if the pilot is anything to go by the series won’t shy away from that either. A good portion of the series focuses on Jessica coming to terms and eventually accepting what happened to her.
After what happens to her from Killgrave, and a number of other reasons, Jessica quits being a superhero. Instead, she became a hard drinking private investigator that snoops around in superhero circles and uses her powers to do the job very well. While it hasn’t been said how she attained her power in the television series, yet, in the comics it was due to experimental chemicals, and sometime spent in a coma. Jessica’s abilities include superhuman strength, and what appears to be more resistant to injuries though she can be injured. She is also able to fly but hasn’t been able to since the ordeal with Killgrave. She was also given “psionic protection” to keep Killgrave from getting into her head again by X-Men Jean Grey but the X-Men and Jean are owned by Fox so the show might skip this plot.
Alias also has the honor of reviving the career of one Luke Cage aka Powerman. Luke Cage was created in the early 1970’s as Marvel tried to take advantage of the “blaxploitation” craze. He fell off of the radar for a number of years but his part in Alias brought him back to the forefront of the Marvel canon. Luke is present in the series as Jessica’s love interest but he’ll only play a small role until he gets his own series that is currently filming.
Alias spends a good portion of the run just following Jessica as a P.I. but the television series appears to be moving forward much quicker to the Killgrave plot. The comic is very much a woman’s story told very well from a man. Jessica is a survivor of torture and violation that has made her connect to an entire different sector of comic fans, other survivors. The comic, and the television series, show an incredibly broken woman who is still surviving despite the abuse she suffered. A common feeling among abuse survivors is feeling alone. Here is a character that shows that not only is it okay to not be okay but that you can eventually rise above your abuse even if it does stay with you for the rest of your life.
Jessica Jones is created by Michelle Rosenberg and drops at midnight on Netflix on November 20th starring Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Mike Colter as Luke Cage, Rachael Taylor as Trish “Patsy” Walker, Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth, and David Tennant as Killgrave.
**No relation to the Alias television series