Who is Marvel’s Jessica Jones?


Well, Netflix finally gave us the information we’ve all been waiting for. The premier for all 13 episodes of Season 1 of Jessica Jones will drop on the streaming service on November 20. This is the second of four planned Marvel adaptations to be produced for Netflix. Season 1 of Daredevil was a rousing success, and both Luke Cage and Iron Fist series are to follow.

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So, with Jessica Jones ready to be our next binge-worthy Netflix offering, it’s a good idea to familiarize ourselves with the title character herself. In terms of Marvel history, the Jessica Jones character is very new. Whereas so many Marvel films and shows have centered more on classic characters and teams, Jones is new (while being old) at the same time. How does that work? Well, it’s all about retcon.

Jones has only been part of the Marvel Universe since 2001 as part of the comic series Alias. I admit I got to Alias late, so it took a bit of time to understand how Jones came about, how the writers chose to use her and simply to understand her backstory.

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In the comics, Jones opens as a former super hero that has fallen on hard times and finds herself working as a private investigator, taking cases involving other super heroes. We’re introduced to her at this point, and when Marvel built her backstory, they did it in a series of looks back in the comics and eventually a full retcon of her past history.

I presume that the Jessica Jones series will pick up where the Alias series started and work backward in a similar fashion. Jones is a character who is a troubled soul and constantly in crisis. And when help comes, whether it is in terms of relationships or as a hero, she pushes those people out of her life. I expect plenty of this in the series as well.

Jones did have super powers, but they were never fully realized in the comics. They were granted to her in a car accident where she was doused with radioactive chemicals. This is so Stan Lee. She had super-strength, limited invulnerability and flight, though she never became very adept in using them — especially flight. It will be interesting to see if her Jewel Jones moniker will appear anywhere but in flashbacks.

The primary story arc of the comics, and likely Season 1 of the Netflix series, will be her involvement with the Purple Man, Zebediah Killgrave. In the series, he will be played by David Tennant. In the comics, Killgrave uses his ability to control people via pheromones. He controls and essentially tortures Jones for a period of eight months before she was broken free by the Scarlet Witch.

The show will technically take place after these events, but Killgrave’s inclusion indicates he is still an integral part of her story, and will be portrayed prominently in flashbacks.

Jones in the comics has an extensive backstory that involves Spider-Man, as well as Luke Cage and Iron Fist.  As part of her retcon, she is shown to be a love interest and former classmate of Peter Parker, and is even invited to be a member of the Avengers. It is her history with these characters among others (like Carol Danvers) that gives her an edge in her investigations.

Much of Jones’ story is about her continually re-evaluating her own value, and, as a result, her role from hero to investigator to victim becomes quite interchangeable. I thoroughly enjoyed getting a full understanding of her character in the comics, and while they can’t tell her full story, present and past on the show, hopefully they will touch on enough to help viewers who don’t read the comics to fully appreciate how they got to where she is.

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