Bad stuff happens to superheroes all the time, it’s practically part of the job description. While they’re meant to inspire us with their acts of heroism and bravery, there’s also something to be said for how heroes deal with trauma and loss. Batman took the murder of his parents and became a force for good, Spider-Man lost his uncle in a selfish act and vowed to protect the innocent, and so on. The list is as long as it is tragic. One of the most relatable lessons we can learn from our favorite comic book heroes is that we can use negative experiences as galvanizing moments to become better people overall.
Even considering the fact that pain and suffering are par for the course, Jessica Jones aka ex-superheroine Jewel has had it rougher than most. The smart-mouthed, tough-as-nails private detective has had to deal with an extraordinary amount of terrible things over her life and career. Crucially (and heroically), despite this mountain of unpleasantness, she still manages to persevere despite everything, even if her coping mechanisms sometimes leave a lot to be desired. With Netflix’s The Defenders almost here, there’s no better time to trawl through the archives and present the 15 Worst Things That Ever Happened To Jessica Jones.
15. Her family was killed in a car accident
Jessica Cambell was a normal nerdy teenager who attended New York’s Midtown High School. Her father worked for Stark Industries until one fateful day when she was bundled into a car with her mother and annoying younger brother Phillip to enjoy a trip to Disney World, thanks to some discount tickets gifted by Tony Stark himself.
Like all siblings on car trips, Phillip starts irritating Jessica and the pair squabble and fight. Papa Cambell yells at them, but loses control of the vehicle, smashing into a passing military convoy. The convoy spills its hazardous cargo of experimental chemicals, and the car careens off the road. Jessica wakes up in a hospital after being in a coma for six months, confronted by the knowledge that she was the sole survivor of the horrific crash. Jessica ended up with superhuman abilities due to the mysterious chemicals, but at a huge, life-changing cost.
14. She was bullied and alienated at school
Kids can be cruel, and nobody knows that more acutely than Jessica. The orphaned teen is adopted by the Jones family and moved into their home. Luckily for her, the Jones homestead is close to her original family home, so she can attend Midtown High like before. Unluckily for her, news of her accident has spread around the school like wildfire, and she is now known as “Coma Girl” by her classmates, a nickname started by jock bully and all-around dick Flash Thompson.
When Spider-Man reveals his identity as Peter Parker to his Avengers colleagues in New Avengers #51, Jessica is shocked and delighted, hugging him immediately. She explains that not only did they attend the same school and took classes together, she also had an all-consuming crush on him. Peter doesn’t remember the name of Jessica Jones, but does recall her “Coma Girl” nickname. Jessica storms off upset, leaving Peter struggling for words. Always a fan of drama, Wolverine declares how much he enjoyed the meeting with a wry smile on his face.
13. Thrown off a mountain by a dragon
After making appearances in the Young Avengers and Hawkeye series for about a decade, Kate Bishop aka the new Hawkeye finally ended up getting her very own series in 2016. Kate moves back to the West Coast and sets up her own detective agency. With such a similar career to everyone’s favorite foul-mouthed PI, the chances are that Kate would work together with Jessica Jones at some point, and in Hawkeye #6, they did just that.
Jessica is hired to to find a missing person, and the trail leads her to Hawkeye’s neck of the woods. Things get infinitely trickier when the prime suspect can transform into a straight-up fire-breathing dragon. Jones and Bishop track her to the Griffith Observatory, where she hulks out (dragons out?), and fights them. Hawkeye’s arrows prove ineffective, so Jessica grapples with it. Jones is thrown from its back and plunges to the ground below. Jess is tougher than an adamantium rhino, so she survives the fall, but no matter how you cut it, falling from that height (and having gotten stomped by a dragon) has to suck.
12. Kept prisoner by the Purple Man for eight months
Zebediah Killgrave (he has an extra “L” in his name in the comics) aka Purple Man has one of the most insidious powers in comics. He gives off pheromones that make people around him bend to his verbal commands. Jessica, still going by Jewel, first meets Killgrave in a restaurant. He casually asks her her secret identity, which she gives up without hesitation, and then asks her to take off her clothes. She starts to do it before he asks her to attack the police force outside instead, which she does – flipping police cruisers with reckless abandon.
Jessica ended up enduring Killgrave’s control for eight months. That’s eight solid months of mental and emotional torture. Luke Cage later asks Jessica if Killgrave ever physically abused her, to which the answer is an emphatic “no”. Instead, ol’ Zeb would make her stand in the corner of the room whenever he’d pick up random college chicks and make her beg for sex until she wept. If ever you needed proof that the Purple Man deserved every single punch that was thrown his way, there you have it.
11. Beaten up by The Avengers
During her mental enslavement, Jessica was used by Killgrave to further his personal agenda. One of these was to kill Daredevil, one of his oldest nemeses, and any other costumed heroes along the way. Jewel catches up to the Avengers and blindsides Scarlet Witch. Wanda Maximoff is injured, and suddenly, Jessica snaps out of her haze and realizes what she’s done. As the Avengers AND the Defenders round on her, she flies away, terrified.
Iron Man hits her with an energy blast before the raging Vision, Scarlet Witch’s husband, slams into her and smacks her with a super-powered right hook. Luckily for Jessica, Carol Danvers, who knows her from previous encounters, swoops in and saves her from any further punishment. Jessica is a mess after the fight, with an injured neck, a damaged spine, a busted nose, a detached retina, and several teeth knocked out. The physical and mental exertion takes its toll on Jessica, and she collapses into a coma afterwards, only to be revived by the X-Men’s Jean Grey.
10. Waking up next to Scott Lang’s corpse
It’s a shame that the MCU divide between the movies and the TV shows is what it is, because it’d be awesome to see how Jessica’s friendship with Carol Danvers would play out on the screen. After Jessica and Carol meet up, Danvers suggests that Miss Jones move on from Luke Cage, who seems unwilling to give up his free and single life. Carol even offers Scott Lang aka Ant-Man as a potential match. Jessica and Scott do end up having a proper relationship, but when she hears that Killgrave has broken out of supervillain prison The Raft, she panics and spends the night at Scott’s apartment.
When Jessica wakes up, her boyfriend is dead next to her, his corpse crawling with his insect buddies. This turns out to be a hallucination brought on by Killgrave, who delights in not only showing Jessica visions of Lang’s death, but also her own personal worst nightmare – a steamy threesome between Luke Cage, Scott Lang, and Carol Danvers.
9. Attacked by the Green Goblin, nearly loses her unborn baby
Jessica’s relationship with Scott Lang ends abruptly when she reveals that she’s pregnant and the baby isn’t his. Jessica takes a job at The Daily Bugle, working on a section of the paper called The Pulse, which exclusively focuses on superheroes. Ben Urich also works on the section, having previously covered Daredevil and revealed the identity of the Green Goblin in a tell-all book that pointed the finger at industrialist Norman Osborn.
Things start escalating in The Pulse #4 when a Bugle reporter turns up dead and Urich believes Osborn is to blame. J. Jonah Jameson orders Jessica to look out for Ben, and soon enough, the Green Goblin attacks the Bugle HQ. The retired superheroine is blown out of a window by a bomb blast and plummets to the ground, only to be caught by Spider-Man. When Spidey carefully places Jessica on a rooftop, she’s distraught, believing that she’s lost the baby. As it turns out, her uterus is as strong as the rest of her and the fetus is fine, but it’s still a terrifying moment for the expectant mother.
8. Her apartment is blown up, leaving Luke Cage in a coma
The Pulse #6 begins in dramatic fashion when Jessica and Luke’s Harlem apartment explodes. Jessica is injured, but both she and the baby survive. Luke Cage is a bit less fortunate, bearing the brunt of the huge energy blast and ending up in a coma. Cage sustains serious internal injuries, made all the worse by the fact that his unbreakable skin makes it impossible for the hospital’s doctors to operate on him.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Luke’s comatose body is stolen from the hospital, leaving Jessica to go on a one-woman crusade to try and get him back. After a bunch of dead ends and being taken in by Hydra agents, Jessica is eventually reunited with Luke Cage, who wakes up from his coma.
Who blew up the apartment to begin with? That would be Latverian Prime Minister and cyborg lady Lucia von Bardas, who tried to kill Luke in retaliation for his involvement in Nick Fury’s secret war against Latveria. It must be exhausting keeping up with all your beefs when you’re a superhero.
7. Forced to fight her demonically possessed husband
In 2010, The New Avengers Vol. 2 was launched, with Luke Cage heading up a fresh version of the famous superhero team. It doesn’t take long for things to go sideways, however. The Eye of Agamotto appears out of nowhere and drops into Cage’s hands. Luke becomes possessed and grows to a gigantic size, forcing his new colleagues, friends, and his wife, Jessica, to fight him.
Jessica and the rest of the team try to stop Demon Luke from hurting himself or others. The battle spills out into Central Park, and Jessica grabs Cage and desperately tries to reason with him, urging him to fight whatever has a hold over him. In the first few days of the new team alone, Jess had to deal with moving, a gun being pointed at her baby’s head, and her husband going on a crazy rampage. We’re getting stressed just thinking about it.
6. Jailed and estranged from her husband
In the latest Jessica Jones comic series, our heroine finds herself in prison. She’s released, but she’s alienated herself from the superhero community due to her mystery crime. Not only that, but heroic hubby Luke Cage isn’t happy with her either. She has apparently hidden their daughter Danielle from him, and he’s on the warpath to get her back.
So what caused Jessica’s fall from grace? Well, a secret plan involving BFF Carol Danvers. Both heroes concocted a plot to drive a shadowy organization out into the open by letting it seem like Jessica has turned to the dark side. The biggest downside to all this is that Jessica can’t tell anyone about the true nature of her actions, leading many to distrust her. Cage eventually finds out the truth (and where his daughter has been hidden), but he can’t forgive Jessica’s deception. As the series is still ongoing at the time of writing, there’s no resolution to this yet, but we’re hoping that Luke and Jessica work things out. They’re literally a power couple.
5. Betrayed by Malcolm Ducasse
When it came time to adapt the Alias comics into the Netflix show, quite a few things were changed. One of the main things that was kept was Kilgrave’s (now with one “L” for some reason) unsettling obsession with Jessica. We’ve seen that Kilgrave (played by the always awesome David Tennant) even has a creepy photo wall of her, clearly spying and keeping tabs on her from afar. In the fourth episode “AKA 99 Friends”, we find out the source of these photos.
Jessica learns from Killy’s ex mind-controlled driver that he always met a man in a blue scarf at 10 o’clock. Jessica pours over security footage of the meeting place until she discovers that Kilgrave’s mystery contact is her friendly junkie neighbor and ally Malcolm Ducasse (Eka Darville). As Jessica looks up from her laptop and a single tear falls down her cheek, the sense of utter betrayal is palpable.
4. The murder of Reva Connors
Early on in Jessica Jones, we learn that Luke Cage (Mike Colter) had a wife by the name of Reva Connors (Parisa Fitz-Henley), who tragically died in an accident involving a bus and an intoxicated driver. In “AKA It’s Called Whiskey”, we learn that this isn’t quite what happened.
Cage digs through his wife’s possessions only to find a note for him. It instructs him to go to a specific warehouse, and starts him on a revenge-fueled journey to find the people responsible. He eventually finds the name of the driver – Charles Wallace. Cage confronts Wallace, who seems genuinely repentant, and intends to kill him before Jessica intervenes. She tearfully confesses that Charles wasn’t the person responsible for Reva’s death, it was actually her, under Kilgrave’s control. Jessica hit Reva full force with a superpowered punch, killing her before her body crashed to the ground. This information is too much for Luke, who takes off, leaving Jessica heartbroken and alone.
3. Kept prisoner in her childhood home
Kilgrave is a twisted, evil, and broken man, but deep down, he genuinely cares for Jessica. Not that that makes everything okay, but this odd mix of emotional baggage can be seen in the episode “AKA WWJD?” Kilgrave buys the house of Jessica’s biological parents and restores it to look exactly like her childhood home, right down to the last details like the posters on her walls and her CD collection.
While she isn’t mind-controlled, the situation forces Jessica to stay in her old house with her abuser as the Purple Man tries to use his personality, rather than his powers, to woo her. The whole thing is unbelievably creepy and wrong on so many levels, it’s tough to fit it all into a single entry. Kilgrave keeps Jessica here until she eventually manages to work out a plan to subdue him and lock him away, but the whole ordeal is deeply personal and genuinely scarring for her.
2. Killed by an infected Luke Cage
Marvel sure does love their alternate realities. While Earth-616 is the main reality, there are tons of parallel dimensions with long, non-descriptive numeric designations. Take Earth-11080. It doesn’t sound much like anything. However, if we were to tell you that this is the reality in which nearly all of the Marvel heroes were infected by a mysterious virus and turned into savage cannibals, good ol’ Earth-11080 sounds a lot more interesting.
It’s important to note that this isn’t a Marvel Zombies title, although it’s basically the same thing. Marvel Universe vs. The Avengers opens with an uninfected Hawkeye putting an arrow in his former wife Mockingbird, and it doesn’t get much cheerier from there. This reality’s Jessica Jones calls up Clint Barton, reporting that Luke has gone crazy and has killed Squirrel Girl. We see her lying on some stairs in a pool of blood before Cage kills her off-panel, with the line going dead mid-sentence. It’s a dark and disturbing demise, and certainly one of the worst things to happen to any version of Jessica Jones.
1. Fails to protect Hope Shlottman
The first episode of Jessica Jones, “AKA Ladies’ Night”, wastes little time in setting out its stall and preparing the viewer for what’s to come. Jessica is hired to find Hope Shlottman (Erin Moriarty), a promising student athlete who’s gone missing. Jessica’s detective work enables her to find the girl, but not before realizing that her disappearance has something to do with Kilgrave. Jessica rescues Hope from a hotel and brings her back to Alias Investigations to reunite her with her parents.
The happy family takes the building’s elevator to leave, only for Hope to pull out a gun from her bag. Clearly still under Kilgrave’s control, she murders her parents in cold blood. Hope returns to her senses and lets out an anguished scream as she realizes what she’s done. It’s a genuinely disturbing sequence, and it perfectly sets up just how scary Kilgrave is. Not only does the tragedy hit Jessica on a deeply personal level, but she feels she’s failed to protect innocent people, one of her worst fears.
What other terrible things have happened to Jessica Jones over the years? Let us know in the comments.
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