With the release of Jessica Jones on November 20th, the world is introduced to yet another side of Marvel’s seedy underbelly with the story of a hard drinking, crude talking private investigator with super powers. Much like the other street level heroes of the Marvel Universe, Ms. Jones has gone through her fair share of trials and hardships, but luckily, she’s had friends along the way to lend her a hand.
Following the release of each of the Marvel Netflix series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist respectively), we’ll see a culmination of their adventures with the series that has them join forces as a team called “The Defenders”.
While in the comics, the Defenders have had something of a different stock of members in the form of the Incredible Hulk, Dr. Strange, the Submariner and the Silver Surfer, the overall heart of the team being a group of misfits within the MU remains the same with Netflix’s idiosyncratic crew. Here, we’ll walk you through the times in the comics when Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones banded together throughout their histories within the Marvel Comic Universe, in celebration of the release of Netflix’s Jessica Jones.
Daredevil: The King of Hell’s Kitchen
If there’s any sense of normality that is Matt Murdock’s life, it’s being stuck between a rock and a hard place. During Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s run on the character, the storyline “The King of Hell’s Kitchen” (Issues #56-60) showed us a Daredevil with a revealed identity, a shattered life, and having no other choice outside of dethroning the Kingpin Wilson Fisk and taking his place as the head of Hell’s Kitchen. Realizing that enough was enough, Matt takes a short vacation with his, at the time, wife Mila, only to return to New York City to find himself in the crosshairs of the Yakuza, eager to capitalize on the Kingpin’s absence. After surviving a few hectic brawls, Matt decides that the only good defense is a good offense, wrangling in some of his hero buddies to fight back. Of course at this time, his “co-workers” weren’t exactly thrilled at his method of fighting crime, but they helped all the same.
Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and even Spider-Man burst into the Yakuza’s stronghold to help Matt put a stop to the Yakuza scourge. This story represented a turning point for Murdock in many ways, primarily allowing himself to rely on his friends, which will most likely be a struggle he’ll have to face in the Defenders’ Netflix series. Also, the formation of this impromptu super collaboration under the pen of Alex Maleev was a sight to behold as his gritty, realistic style made character like Spider-Man and Iron Fist all the more fantastical.
New Avengers: Avengers Vs X-Men
Woudn’t you know it, sometimes the Defenders assembled as Avengers themselves! In the pages of New Avengers, during the storyline of Avengers Vs. X-Men, Daredevil, Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones found themselves fighting with their fellow mutant heroes over the fate of the Phoenix Force that was coming to earth. Eventually, the Avengers stood triumphant, but not without some heavy losses with the death of Professor Charles Xavier along the way. The street level heroes were charged with handling some cleanup in transporting one of the Phoenix possessed X-Men, Emma Frost, to the slammer. Of course, in the Marvel Universe, things normally don’t go to plan and the plane is attacked by a mutant hating band of baddies called “The Purifiers”.
The heroes manage to fight off the Purifiers, even though they were physically and mentally exhausted at the time. This fight also saw a turning point for Luke Cage who, after marrying and having a baby with Jessica Jones (Spoiler alert!), was wrestling with the idea of continuing to be a super hero while having a family waiting for him at home. The battle pushes Luke in the direction of a house and picket fences, deciding to leave the established group of Avengers behind him. Of course, you can only stay away from being a superhero for so long as a Marvel character, so he would eventually return as a member of his own group of Avengers called “The Mighty Avengers” down the line. Though, while we’re on the subject of the marriage of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones…..
The Marriage of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones
Luke Cage has been a part of Jessica Jones life since her first appearance, with the two having a casual fling in her original Marvel series, Alias, which developed into a full relationship down the road. Eventually, they had a daughter, Danielle Cage, and the two decided that now was the right time to get hitched, while also be card carrying members of the Avengers themselves. In New Avengers Annual #1, the team prepares for the two to tie the knot following Jessica’s acceptance of Luke’s proposal, only to be attacked by a dangerous new version of the Super Adaptoid. The crazed android has the ability to use the powers of any heroes she happened to be fighting at the time, which made for quite the handful for this new Avengers team. She’s taken down through a combination of teamwork, and the Sentry’s insanity, to give way to wedding bells.
Jones and Cage’s wedding was officiated by none other than the man himself, Stan Lee, who delivers a downright stirring speech right before the two exchange their vows. The Avengers at the time (Captain America, Spider-Woman, Spider-Man, Sentry, and Iron Man) then proceed party through the night with the newlyweds. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s relationship has been a fixture in the lives of these characters for the past decade or so, and it should be great to watch it develop in the Netflix-verse as time passes.
Let’s put a little twist on the proceedings. Shadowland saw Luke Cage and Iron Fist team up under their “Heroes For Hire” banner to fight none other than Matt Murdock himself! Remember my mentioning of Matt’s frantic life? Well this was another one of those rough patches as Daredevil found himself possessed by a demon conjured by the ninja clan, the Hand. After finally killing his greatest enemy, Bullseye, Murdock erects a giant structure in the heart of NYC, deciding to fight crime more ruthlessly with an army of ninjas at his beck and call. All these decisions of course were influenced by the demon banging around inside of his head, but Cage and Rand were none the wiser. Alongside the Heroes for Hire, various other superheroes in the Marvel Universe descend upon Murdock to put an end to his insanity.
Throughout the battle, the truth is revealed that Matt is being possessed by a demon and so Daredevil does the only logical act he can think of while having a moment of clarity: he kills himself. The heroes mourn their friend, but realize that his body has, shockingly, disappeared, as Matt managed to survive his suicide attempt, now demon free! Daredevil took himself a little road trip and eventually returned to New York City with a spring in his step and a much more upbeat attitude. While Shadowland wasn’t the most critically acclaimed series Marvel’s done, it would make for an interesting twist if elements from it were incorporated into Netflix’s Defenders.