On November 20th, the world will be introduced to Jessica Jones, the coolest private detective that the Marvel Universe has ever known. (My apologies to Dakota North, but it’s true.) And when I say the world, I mean anybody with a Netflix account. November 20th is the day that all 13 episode of Marvel’s Jessica Jones will be available for your binge-watching pleasure. Longtime fans of the character (like myself) are looking forward to finally seeing Jessica’s unique outlook on the Marvel U brought to the small screen. But there are those who might not know much about this ex-hero turned private eye. Never fear. I’ve got you covered. With only a few days left to wait, this will be the final time I drop some knowledge on Jessica and her 14 years of comic history. Come join me on this journey and find out why Marvel’s Jessica Jones will be the must-watch series of the (late) fall.
For this final installment, I thought it would be good to take a quick look at the supporting cast for the series and explore their ties to the Marvel Comics Universe. Last week, we talked about Killgrave, but this week let’s take a look at some of the other players. What tidbits from their comic book counter parts will make it to the screen? That’s a mystery that will be answered soon. Right now, we can only speculate.
First Appearance: Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (created by Archie Goodwin and John Romita Sr.)
Created in 1972, Luke Cage was introduced in his own comic series in an attempt to cash in on the Blaxploitation film genre that had arisen at that time. Spending his youth on the streets as a gang banger in Harlem, Carl Lucas (Luke’s real name) sees the error of his ways and tries to play it straight as an adult. His friend Stryker isn’t as smart and lives a life of crime. Eventually Stryker pisses off the wrong people and and almost gets killed if not for Lucas saving his ass. But Stryker’s girlfriend can’t take the life her man is leading, breaking it off with him, and ends up finding solace in the arms of Lucas. Stryker’s jealousy gets the better of him as he plants heroin in Lucas’s apartment and tips off the police. Lucas ends up in prison and that’s where his story truly begins.
Imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit and being constantly harassed by inmate Billy-Bob Rackham, Lucas is dead set on finding a way out of Seagate prison. So he volunteers to be a part of a series of experiments conducted by Dr. Noah Burstein which are designed to replicate the Super Solider Serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America. Burstein immerses Lucas in an electric field and chemical compound. He steps away from the controls for a moment and Rackham uses the opportunity to mess with the experiment in an attempt to kill Lucas. The opposite happens and Lucas gains super strength and unbreakable skin. Lucas uses the news powers to escape prison and make his way back to New York.
Now living under the assumed name of Luke Cage, he sets up shop as a “Hero for Hire”, willing to hire out his services to those in need of help. He wore a silver tiara, a yellow t-shirt and a chain for belt. He talked “street” and exclaimed “Sweet Christmas” when he was surprised by something. It was easy to see that Luke was a hero that stood out from the crowd, even in the 70s. The comic was successful for a number of years but as sales began to wane in 1978, he was paired with another hero who’s popularity was declining: the Immortal Iron Fist. The two became a team and would do the street level crime fighting shtick for 8 more years before their book got cancelled.
Throughout the 90s, there were attempts to revive the character, most notably with a series in 1992 that removed a lot of the gimmicks from his blaxploitation roots. But it never caught on, nor did the attempt to bring back the Heroes for Hire as a super-team with a full roster of 2nd stringers. It wouldn’t be until the early 2000s when Brian Michael Bendis would start using the character on a regular basis in a number of series, including the Jessica Jones vehicles Alias and The Pulse, that Luke’s star would rise once again. Luke would eventually be put on the New Avengers and would also head into a long term relationship with Jessica, having a child with her. The two would even lead the New Avengers for a time.
From what I’ve seen so far, Mike Colter appears to be the right choice for Cage and I can’t wait to see not only what he brings to this series, but also the one he’s staring in come 2016.
PATSY (TRISH) WALKER
First Appearance: Patsy Walker – Miss America Magazine #2 (created by Ruth Atkinson)
First Appearance: Hellcat – Avengers #144 (written by Steve Englehart and penciled by George Perez)
Here’s a character with a strange past, even for the comics world. Patsy Walker’s publication history actually pre-dates the Marvel Universe as she was created in 1944 to get Timely Comics into the teen humour genre. A blantant ripoff of Archie, Patsy is a redhead who flirts with both her boyfriend, Buzz Baxter, and his raven haired rival, Hedy Wolfe. Patsy had her own comic and spin-offs including Patsy and Hedy and Patsy and Her Pals. While not a super success in the comics world, the book managed to continue publication through the 40s and 50s and into the 60s where it would switch from teen humour to young career girl/romance adventure. The character would also get a cameo in Fantastic Four Annual #3, establishing her in Marvel continuity.
In 1976, Avengers scribe Steve Englehart would reintroduce the character to the Marvel Universe, playing that she was a t.v. star as a kid and that her exploits in her former comic were episodes from the show. She would eventually become a superheroine, taking the name Hellcat and donning a blue cat mask and yellow tights (they sure loved putting people in bright yellow costumes in the 70s, didn’t they?). While never an A-lister, Hellcat was a member of the Avengers and has been popping up in the comics ever since, most recently as a private detective in the pages of Charles Soule’s 12 issue She-Hulk series.
Patsy, going by Trish in the show, had no real connection to Jessica in the comics world so it will be interesting to see how they tie their stories together. From what we’ve seen so far, it’s obvious that she is the stand-in character for Jessica’s best friend in the comics, Carol Danvers (a.k.a. the current Captain Marvel).
First Appearance: Iron Fist #6 (Created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne)
Much like Patsy Walker, Hogarth is an interesting addition to the Jessica Jones cast. While the character on the show is being played by Carrie-Anne Moss, the character in the comics debuted as a man in the pages of Iron Fist as a longtime friend of Danny Rand’s father and executor of his estate. When Danny first appears in New York as Iron Fist, Hogarth has him followed by detectives Misty Knight and Colleen Wing to verify his identity and find out what he’s up to. Jeryn eventually became friends with Danny and has aided him on many endeavors including the running of Rand Industries and the day-to-day operations of Heroes for Hire (co-run by Iron Fist and it’s founder Luke Cage).
Jeryn has always been a stand up guy and trusted friend of Danny’s, even standing up for him during Marvel’s Civil War. He stopped Iron Man from arresting him under the superhuman registration act, stating that Danny’s iron fist was already a registered lethal weapon in the U.S.
From what I can tell, it looks like the take they’re going with here is that Jerry Hogarth is a lawyer through and through. She’s smart and cunning and you’re not sure if you can trust her. Should keep Jessica on her toes.
So that’s my take on the characters. Hopefully this sheds some light for any Marvel comics noobs out there looking for a bit more backstory going in. Jessica Jones is an interesting cat all on her own, but with these rich characters backing her up, there should be plenty of great stories to tell.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones debuts on Netflix on November 20th.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!