Read These Comics Before Watching Jessica Jones
Marvel’s new Netflix show, Jessica Jones, isn’t your average superhero fare. In fact the series, which stars Krysten Ritter as a super-powered private eye with a disturbing past, is more of a noir story than a caped-crusader tale, which only makes sense given the comic books that inspired the series.
In order to prepare for the inevitable binge that awaits, we’d like to offer you some suggested reading. Below are the five comic book runs that you should check out in order to be ready for Netflix’s new show. Each is slightly outside the traditional superhero norm—downtrodden detective stories, blaxploitation tales, psychological horror, fun-filled supernatural romps—but they’re all worth a gander. You want to get to know Jessica? This is where you start.
Alias #1-28 (2001-2004)
The comic book that introduced Jessica Jones launched Marvel’s “R-rated” Max imprint, finally letting fans know that their favorite superheroes did, in fact, know how to swear, they just felt very uncomfortable doing it. Taking full advantage of the freedoms offered by the imprint, creators Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos created Jones to be one of the company’s most well-rounded female characters: flawed, bitter, self-destructive, and far more optimistic than she would ever allow anyone else to see. The roots of Jessica Jones are all here.
How to read it: Available digitally and in collected print editions as Jessica Jones: Alias, Volumes 1 through 4.
Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #1-9 (1972-1973)
Before Luke Cage tended bar in Hell’s Kitchen, he was Marvel’s premiere blaxploitation hero—a feat he achieved, amazingly, despite not having the word “black” in his name (see also: Black Panther, Black Goliath, Black Talon). His original series doesn’t offer much in the way of hints about the man Jessica would later become involved with, but for those looking to discover the backstory of the only man ever to tell Doctor Doom “Where’s my money, honey?” these issues are a retro thrill.
How to read it: Available digitally and in a collected print edition as Essential Luke Cage, Power Man Vol. 1.
The Pulse #1-14 (2004-2006)
This series is essentially What Jessica and Luke Did Next. Jessica leaves behind the world of private investigations for a job at The Daily Bugle, bringing her into constant contact with Spider-Man and Daredevil cast members like J. Jonah Jameson and Ben Urich. This folds her into the Marvel Universe proper and leads to her becoming a cast member in both New Avengers and Mighty Avengers.
How to read it: Available digitally and in a collected print edition as Jessica Jones — The Pulse: The Complete Collection.
Daredevil Vol. 4, #8-10 (2014)
As if Killgrave (David Tennant) isn’t unsettling enough in Netflix’s Jessica Jones, his most recent comic book appearance ups the ante by bringing in his offspring: a number of children who each possess his power of mind control to a certain degree. How does Netflix’s other Marvel hero, Daredevil, stand up against such a barrage of mental abuse? The answer is: not very well at all. A highlight from a run by writer Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee that’s a must-read as a whole, but certainly worth picking up as Jessica Jones prep.
How to read it: Available digitally and in a collected print edition as Daredevil Vol. 2: West-Case Scenario.
Patsy Walker: Hellcat #1-5 (2009)
And now for something completely different; one of Jessica’s best friends in Jessica Jones is Trish Walker, who’s a version of a comic book character called Patsy Walker—originally an Archie-esque teen comedy character from the 1940s who became a superhero in the 1970s. While the TV version of the character is fun enough, her comic book incarnation is outstanding: snarky, optimistic, and utterly indefatigable even in the face of (as in the case of this series) magical beasts.
How to read it: Available digitally and in a collected print edition.
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