Jessica Jones is intriguing for what it is not. The Marvel Cinematic universe is built on outsized super heroes whose exploits are global (sometimes galactic) rendering many of the little people as a moot point that are powerless in the face of the glossier natural disasters that are superheroes and super villains. This show is the shadow to the shine of what we’ve seen on the big screen and that’s a side of things I am so eager to step into. There is so much popcorn-munching fun in the Marvel movies, but Jessica Jones seems like whiskey on the rocks sort of stuff. It’s a long stare at the bartender that tells you “I’ve seen some things” and once that happens it’s a sure bet the story will be a good one. This is not the first time Netflix has delved into this side of the Marvel universe. Daredevil gave us a proper introduction to post-avengers New York showing a level of brutality unseen in any of the movies up to this point. It’s fascinating to watch and that I’m eager to step into that world again. The extent of my knowledge about the Marvel Universe is relegated to what I’ve seen in television or movies, but I realize how much history all of these characters have in comics. Catching up on that history can be intimidating to the layman that balks at sifting through the myriad of storylines and different versions of the same character, but I found someone to help guide me through the history of Jessica Jones in comic book form. I tabbed my friend and comic-book expert Jason Sacks to address a few hot topics about the show before it drops today. Sacks was the publisher of Comics Bulletin and writer of comics history books including The American Comic Book Chronicles: the 1970s. Here are some snippits of my email interview with him to get you ready for the show: As a warning it’s possible some of this information may be spoiler information so read with caution. Q: Something that is speculated is that this series will draw heavily on the Jessica Jones Alias series, which is the first to headline the Marvel MAX Imprint. I was wondering if this is something you are familiar with and whether you could give me some context on the mood and tenor of that story line. I’d also like to know what Marvel Max Imprint is and whether you could give some context to that venture by Marvel. Jason Sacks: MAX was intended to be a mature readers version of the Marvel Universe, and the first issue of Alias was intended to show that this wasn’t the Marvel U in the same way it was when Stan Lee was writing it. The first word in the first issue is a “FUCK” screamed by one of Jessica’s clients and in that same first scene Jessica is smoking a cigarette. The gritty, earthy art of Michael Gaydos clearly embedded the comic in a rundown section of the Marvel U far from Avengers Mansion. That, of course, was one of the points of the series, since it was about how much a character like Jessica had fallen (at least in her own self esteem) and how hard she worked to revive herself. Bendis wrote the series with a strong influence from David Mamet. Snappy dialogue and intense situations were the order of the day, and the comic was meant to be an even more world-weary take on the world than his Daredevil. The comic loudly acknowledged sex, though it wasn’t explicit, and the first issue, which began with a FUCK, ended with a literal fuck – famously for the time, Luke and Jessica engage in anal sex (I’m sure you can find many references on Google). The anal sex is an important part of Jessica’s emotional picture — she needs to go extreme in order to feel anything. I wonder how much the show will play up the PTSD aspects of her story. MAX was intended as kind of Marvel’s version of DC Comics’ popular Vertigo line, famous for Sandman, Preacher, Y: the Last Man and The Invisibles (in which the first issue also begins with a character screaming FUCK,) among many others. That’s not a perfect analogy for a few reasons, but gives you a ballpark view of it anyway. Q: For fans unfamiliar with the comic book version of Jessica Jones, could you give a bit of a history lesson on her character as it appears in print? Jason Sacks: Jessica Jones was once known as Jessica Campbell. One day, when Jessica was a young girl, her parents died in a car accident in which chemicals were spilled on the family car. Jessica was in a coma for months before emerging and being adopted by the Jones family. The chemical spill gives her super-powers, including flight, invulnerability and super strength. When a fight between Spider-Man and Sandman crashes into her school, Jessica is inspired to put on a costume and call herself Jewel. Q: Jessica Jones’ main adversary in this series will be The Purple Man. What is their relationship like in the comic books? Jason Sacks: One day when tracking down a series of crimes, Jessica encounters a purple-skinned man named Zebediah Killgrave. As we discover in the final arc in the comic Killgrave the Purple Man has amazing hypnotic powers and puts the young superheroine under his thrall. As you might imagine, terrible things happen next. Killgrave mentally and physically rapes Jessica, each time commanding her to have a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, forcing her to return to him and ask for more. The final story arc in Alias goes into this and much more in horrific detail. The person Killgrave really hates is Daredevil and when he hears rumors of DD being at the Avengers Mansion, he orders Jessica to attack there. Instead of finding DD, she finds the Scarlet Witch (who wears a similar red costume) and faces the wrath of the Avengers. They all attack her, and only the horrified screams of Carol Danvers, Ms. Marvel, get the Avengers to stop attacking her. Shattered by the experience, Jessica hangs up her costume. She’s deeply broken by these events that happened to her as the comic book begins. You can think of Alias as the slow return to redemption for her. Q: Similar to the above questions: Luke Cage is going to play a big role in the series, who is she in the comic book universe and how does he relate to Jessica Jones? Luke was Jessica’s boyfriend as Alias began, and the pair eventually had a daughter and got married. He’s a beefy African-American super-hero who debuted in 1972 as kind of a blaxploitation super-hero. In his origin story, a man is framed for murder and sent to prison. While there, he volunteers for an experiment that he hopes will give him super-powers. He gets those powers and manages to escape prison, setting up a new life for himself under the fake name Luke Cage. He becomes a hero for hire living in Harlem, eventually joining forces with martial arts master Iron Fist in an agency. He clears his name and pals around with the Defenders during those years. He was part of a couple of short-lived revivals in the 1990s (the ’92 series Cage isn’t bad; the follow up Heroes for Hire is a decent quarter bin find) but mainly left on the scrap heap before writer Brian Michael Bendis revived him for Alias. It’s in Alias that Cage starts to become a popular mainstream Marvel hero. He initially provides a bit of muscle for Jessica’s detective agency, all the while being a perfectly fine boyfriend and sometimes a bit of a roguish lead character. We begin to see Luke grow and mature. As I mentioned, he and Jessica eventually have a daughter together, and he also becomes a bit of a father figure to many of the young Avengers recruited as part of the Fifty State Initiative that brings on new Avengers. He’s clearly a favorite character of Bendis, who seems to use Cage in all of his comics at some point or another. Q: With the release of Jessica Jones and the previously released Daredevil on Netflix, this is a much grittier type of superhero than the ones that show up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the comics, how does this slice of the Marvel universe compare to the stories we’ve seen in the Captain America, Iron Man and The Avengers Movies? Jason Sacks: Jessica has basically inhabited her own special area of the Marvel Universe since she debuted. It’s a kind of grittier, more street level area of the Marvel U where gods choose not to go – the underside of the glitter. In that universe live characters who are more man than god, such as the steel-skinned Luke Cage (more Shaft than Superman) and Iron Fist (named after a ’70s kung fu exploitation flick, which gives you an idea of how he was initially conceived). Basically expect Daredevil, only more so. Q: Yet another character to show up is Patsy Walker who it is believed may become Hellcat. This might be an origin story for her so I wanted to know what her comic book backstory is? Hellcat is best friends with She-Hulk and helps out at Shulkie’s law firm. She’s a former model named Patsy Walker who finds the costume of a long-forgotten heroine and becomes the Hellcat. In the pages of The Defenders circa 1983 she marries the Son of Satan (who’s actually a decent guy) but they eventually divorced. Comics are weird. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response Who is Jessica Jones? - Psycho Drive-In November 22, 2015 […] get to know. For details on just what the original comic series Alias was all about check out our INTRODUCTION TO JESSICA JONES. This entry will give you more insight into Jessica the character, and click here for a look at the […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.