While Jessica Jones may have been something of an obscure Marvel hero prior to the release of the Netflix series, there’s an even more obscure – but storied and much-loved – hero hidden in plain sight within Jessica Jones, reports Polygon.
[Warning: Minor Jessica Jones spoilers ahead]
The Netflix series Jessica Jones has been hailed as an important step forward for Marvel, and we’ve reported previously that the series illustrated the versatility of Marvel’s storytelling. Jessica Jones is a story about trauma and sexual assault as much as it is a superhero story. Further, the series has been something of a treasure trove of hidden cameos and origin stories for minor characters throughout the Marvel universe.
In the Netflix series, Jessica’s best friend Patricia ‘Trish’ Walker (played by Rachel Taylor), is one such hero; she is, in fact, one of Marvel’s oldest heroes, predating the X-Men, Spider-Man, and even the Avengers. She’s a contemporary of the original Captain America, making her earliest appearance in the 1940s, before Marvel Comics was even called Marvel Comics.
At the time, Marvel was known as Timely Comics, and Patsy Walker was one of their headlining properties, a romance comic like a female version of Archie. The romance comic genre was once as large and influential as the superhero comic genre is today, but very few – if any – characters from that era in Marvel’s history have survived through the years, in one largely unbroken continuity. Patsy Walker’s history as a 40s era comic book character has been woven into her backstory as superheroine Hellcat.
Writers at Marvel had grown up with Patsy Walker, and many of them were big fans, even if they’d moved on to bigger and better things. In order to keep one of their favorite characters alive and relevant in an era of superheroes, the future Jessica Jones counterpart was written into a Fantastic Four series in 1965.
This introduced her to a new audience, and in 1972, Patsy Walker was reintroduced to the Marvel Universe as the superheroine, Hellcat.
In a clever move on the part of Marvel writers at the time, they decided to keep Patsy Walker’s original comics as a part of her storyline but not exactly as they appeared. They existed in the Marvel universe, written and published by Patsy’s mom, so by the time she became Hellcat, she was already a minor celebrity within the superhero universe.
Both of these twists are mirrored in Jessica Jones, in which we see nods to Trish Walker’s past as a TV icon like Hannah Montana, and the comic books being published by her controlling and manipulative mother. At one point in the series, a fan ambushes Trish and Jessica, holding a bouquet of flowers and a Patsy Walker comic. Trish even wears blue, yellow, and red throughout the series, her wardrobe keeping with the colors of Hellcat’s costumes throughout the years.
Trish Walker’s role in Jessica Jones was originally meant to go to Carol Danvers, another Marvel superhero, but she’s got her own movie slated for 2019; thus, the writers behind Jessica Jones turned to another member of the Defenders to fill the gap with expert martial artist and former child star, Patsy Walker.
In doing so, they paired traumatized Jessica Jones with another hero who had endured abuse in her past, and the Netflix series is stronger for it. Trish Walker isn’t a sidekick; she’s an equal, a cheerleader, and an optimistic counterpart who brings out the best in Jessica.
Alongside Patsy Walker, we also see another origin story play out — a supervillain who fought Daredevil and the Punisher in the Marvel comics universe – through Patsy’s boyfriend, Will Simpson, known in the comics universe as “Nuke,” io9 reported earlier this month.
Jessica Jones continues to garner praise for its mature storytelling and for its willingness to have fully-developed side-characters who are more than props to move the story forward.
[Photo via Getty Images]