Marvel’s Jessica Jones is available to view now on Netflix, and as with Daredevil we’ll be providing daily episode-by-episode coverage for those who want to follow it with us. Each instalment of these viewing notes will look at how the show’s plot, characters and story relate to the comic source material, providing background information and pointers for those who want to know more.
Please note that while we might occasionally reveal the way plots developed in the comics, we are trying to be sensitive to any surprises the TV show may have in store. These notes are written immediately after the episode is watched, so any speculation about the way the story may go is purely that!
All we ask is that if you’ve seen future episodes that confirm, contradict or otherwise twist things we talk about in this piece, please respect people who don’t have the luxury of binge-watching and please don’t put spoilers for future episodes anywhere in the comments. You can, however, swap spoilers in our ‘What Did You Think?’ post. Thanks.
We’re introduced to former superhero Jessica Jones and her supporting cast as she takes on the case of a missing woman and finds that it leads her to cross paths with a man she thought was dead – a man with a strange power to make people do what he wants, regardless of their wishes.
So, the first scene in Jessica’s building, where she punches the guy through her office door window? That’s taken almost verbatim from the comic, where it forms the opening scene of the series. It’s not the only time that happens, but it is the most obvious. Alias #1, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos was dated November 2001 and was the first comic from Marvel’s adult-oriented MAX imprint.
Being “adult only” meant Alias was the first place that Marvel had allowed graphic violence, graphic sex and bad language in their superhero comics in any major way, so it’s no great surprise that this first episode of the TV series appears to have more sex and swearing in than – and I’m about to go out on a limb here, so feel free to prove me wrong if you have some statistics – the rest of the MCU combined. I forget how much bad language slipped into Daredevil, but I don’t remember it being this densely packed.
Of course, there was already a (mostly quite good) TV series called Alias, so while Jessica’s organisation retains its name – Alias Investigations – the Netflix show was renamed to prevent confusion with the Jennifer Garner vehicle of days past.
Carrie Anne-Moss is playing Jeri Hogarth, a gender-flipped version of Jeryn Hogarth. Jeryn was introduced in Iron Fist #6 (August, 1976) as the attorney for Heroes for Hire. It does not seem unreasonable to imagine that the character might serve a similar purpose in the forthcoming Iron Fist Netflix series if and when they get around to that.
On a similar point, is Jeri Hogarth the first gay character in the MCU? I’ve not been keeping up with Agents Of SHIELD, but as far as I’m aware she is.
Malcolm is presumably a version of Malcolm Powder, who in the comics was a high school student who continually bugged Jessica in the hope of landing a job with her. In this he’s repurposed as a character of much dodgier moral fibre (I’m instantly hoping we get to see Turk and Malcolm become the Jay and Silent Bob of the Netflix universe). It’s relatively clear that Malcom is aligned with Jessica, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him fulfilling the comic Malcolm’s role and help her out in future episodes.
And Mike Colter is, of course, Luke Cage. He first appeared in Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (June 1972) and was created by Archie Goodwin and John Romita, Sr. He’s also the reason Nicholas Coppola chose the name Nicholas Cage when he was looking for a pseudonym.
Cage was also part of the Alias comic from the begining, and there’s quite a notorious sex scene in the opening issue which is replicated in spirit in this episode. It’s actually much less graphic in the comic than the TV show (and it’s not even reaching “Erotic Thriller with Shannon Tweed” levels here) but weirdly the comic’s ambiguity left a lot of scope for what we’ll call a particular reading of the scene. An odd thing, that showing more can make it potentially less graphic, but here we are.
The final main member of the supporting cast – Trish Walker – is a version of Patricia “patsy” Walker, who was the superhero Hellcat. Created by Ruth Atkinson, she first appeared in Miss America Magazine #2 (Nov. 1944) as a teen-humour character (a la the Riverdale gang) before she debuted as a costumed superhero (because why not?) in Avengers #144 (February 1976). As a fun piece of trivia, Patsy Walker #95 was one of two comics released in June 1961 which were the first to be labelled “Marvel Comics”, so she really has been there since the beginning.
All that said, this version of Walker shares virtually nothing with the comics version. She actually seems to be fulfilling the role that Carol Danvers (then Ms. Marvel, now Captain Marvel) had in the original comic of being Jessica’s former best friend. For obvious reasons, Danvers was unavailable for this slot #it’sallconnectedaslongasthemoviesdon’thavetodoanything
In case anyone’s wondering, the girl Jessica is looking for – Hope Slottman – seems to have been created for the TV series. That said, Jessica’s task of finding a missing woman for her parental figures does mirror the time she was hired to locate Mattie Franklin (one of the various characters to call herself Spider-Woman). The details don’t play out identically, but you can read that story in Alias #16-21.
The guy Hope was trapped by was, of course, Zebediah Killgrave, also known as the Purple Man. In the comics he’s a lot more purple than he is in this show, but his powers remain the same: he can tell you what to do, and you’ll do it. He first appeared in Daredevil #4 (October 1964) and was created by Stan Lee and Joe Orlando. It’s fair to say he plays a major role in Jessica Jones’ backstory, but that’s already obvious from the show. At this point I’ll refrain from saying too much about him at this point.
Regarding Jessica’s technique for calming herself down, I can’t tell if there’s any wider significance to the three streets she mentions (I think I heard Birch Street, Higgins Drive & Cobalt Lane). As near as I can Google up, there’s no real-world location with those names together.
Strangely there’s not a huge amount of MCU connectivity in this episode. Daredevil led with its oblique Avengers reference, but the closest we get here is Jones’ target noting that “You’re one of them” (super-powered beings, we can safely assume) and a brief use of the word “gifted” which has been used occasionally in Agents Of SHIELD. Did we miss anything else big?
Phew. So, that was a lot of character introduction notes for this first episode. But then, that was a lot of character introductions we just watched. Be back here shortly for our similar look at episode 2.