Monday, January 16, 2017

Real Name: Jessica Jones-Cage
First Appearance: Alias #1 (November, 2001)
Fight Club Ranking: #91

Featured Fights:
- vs THE OWL: The Pulse #14 (May 2006)
- vs LUKE CAGE: New Avengers #2 (Sep 2010)

After Marvel Entertainment kicked the doors in on 2016, it's been surprising nobody has taken a real stranglehold of the start of 2017. Last year we had big reveals of Doctor Strange and Black Panther in movies, The Punisher in streaming television, and even the short-lived anniversary comeback of Captain America in comics! This year, the chips are mostly behind things we've already seen, with FOX's Logan making the most convincing noise ahead of its early March release.

Somewhere on the horizon lies a convergence of Netflix's various live-action series, coming together as The Defenders. This week Marvel announced the same will happen in print, as The Defenders relaunches with the Netflix characters starring in a Free Comic Book Day introduction, in May.

The new series will reunite writer Brian Michael Bendis with characters he's been associated with since 2002! Artist David Marquez is already making a great impression with previews of his artwork featured by CBR [pictured above]. It might not be the most surprising move from Marvel, but it ticks all the boxes of what you'd hope to see coming from the success of the beloved characters.

The challenge of the comic will be to make the most of the urban team-up, differentiating it from other recently launched series. It would be a real tragedy if Defenders were to negatively impact the run of Power Man & Iron Fist -- the 2016 relaunch with David Walker (writer) and Sanford Green (Artist) being one of the rare attention grabbers of the last year!

Iron Fist is, of course, set to make his Netflix debut this March, but since we discussed him last year, and likely will again, our Hero of the Week is the Defenders character we missed: Jessica Jones!

It's interesting to see how the Bendis creation is adapting to reflect Marvel's popular Netflix deal. Jones seemed created in a deliberately domestic mold, but statuesque actress Krysten Ritter has turned the brown haired everywoman into a punkish, raven haired icon. Much of the foul-mouthed spirit of the character remains intact, as do her relationships, which eventually led to the birth of a daughter to Luke Cage. It will be interesting to see if TV follows their journey quite that far.

Jessica Jones became a new on-going monthly series from Marvel last year, seeing the heroine tangle with The Spot in an issue that very nearly inspired another HOTW. It's those kinds of comic heavy references that I hope will differentiate The Defenders from its characters' solo (or duo) series.

Historically, Luke Cage is the only one of the characters I really associate with The Defenders. A counterpart brand to The Avengers originally defined as the "non-team" when it was founded by Doctor Strange, Sub-Mariner, Silver Surfer and Hulk.

The Defenders evolved into a more conventional revolving line-up, adding iconic billionaire leader Nighthawk, Valkyrie, Hellcat, Gargoyle, and eventually "New" members Beast, Iceman and Angel. Later still, the concept was repurposed in the nineties as the Secret Defenders: hodgepodge team-ups formed by Doctor Strange to address various occurring crises. It'd be nice to see elements of these creep in to the new Defenders series, further distinguishing it with a flavor akin to Marvel Knights.

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