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Jessica Jones (Marvel Comics)

Jessica Jones

(Profile #1 - Alias Investigations, early)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

“What the fuck kind of super-hero are you ?”


Context

Jessica Jones is originally a minor Marvel Comics character, through she gained much greater fame via a Netflix TV series in 2015. This profile covers her early career in the Alias limited comic book series by Bendis and Gaydos (2001-2004).

At this stage Jess is a broken, damaged, self-destructive private detective who used to be a minor, failed super-heroine. The series follows her travails as she doggedly regains her dignity and her ability to do the right thing despite her dire state.

It is a noir psychological detective stories, operating on the fringes of the “main” super-hero action.

This profile has S P O I L E R S about the flashbacks in Alias, but not about the events that happen during the limited series. However, the flashbacks are an integral part of the story. Also, the quotes have lots and lots of swearing.


Background

  • Real Name: Jessica Jones (formerly Jessica Cambell). Though her name is clearly spelled “Cambell” in Alias, it was subsequently given as Campbell.
  • Former Aliases: Jewel, Knightress
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Philip (younger brother, deceased), unnamed parents (deceased), adoptive parents (name unrevealed), unnamed adoptive sister, Jenny (adoptive aunt). At the very end of this era she is newly pregnant with the yet-to-be-named Danielle Cage.
  • Group Affiliation: Owner of Alias Investigations (a one-woman PI firm)
  • Base Of Operations: Alias Investigations office, New York City
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 124 lbs
  • Eyes: Light brown Hair: Brown with slight red highlights (dyed pink as Jewel)


Powers & Abilities

Jones is super-strong – probably able to lift 4 to 5 tons, though this is never specified. She can destroy most minor obstacles such as chain link fences. Her durability is likewise slightly superhuman. For instance she can crush a glass in her hand without being cut, and take superhuman blows without being killed.

Jones is unsure whether she’s bulletproof, but it’s probable that she can endure medium-calibre handgun fire to a limited extent. The Owl slashing her back with a knife did produce a wound, but a superficial one that just needed cleaning up and a large adhesive bandage.

Jessica Jones falling asleep on a bar

Jessica can sort of, kind of fly. She can take off, but cannot really manoeuvre and her landings are basically free falls. Thus, it’s more comparable to extremely long jumps than real flight. Her strength also allows her to run pretty fast, but it seems comparable to what an Olympic athlete can achieve.

Jones had some sort of psychic defense installed in her mind by Jean Grey. It apparently allows her to break any sort of control lasting for more than a few minutes. Whether this was permanent or one-shot, how powerful it is, etc. is unrevealed – but an effort of will was sufficient to break free from the Purple Man’s control.

Former abilities

One gets the impression that Jones was stronger back when she was Jewel. Her strength was perhaps as high as Class 20, since she could easily lift and throw a police cruiser. As Jewel, she could also fully fly and manoeuvre in the air.

In one dream she seems able to fire energy blasts from her hands, but it is unknown whether she could actually do that as Jewel.

For the usual fee – plus expenses

Jones is a decently skilled private investigator, handling relatively simple cases of adultery and missing persons.

This is no cinematic detective work, and mostly involves subscriptions to Internet databases to track people down (through credit card use and other basics – she’s not terribly good with computers in general) and long stakeouts with a camera.

Her legwork is good, as her unassuming yet direct manner, combined with her experience, have a good track record at getting people talking – when working she has solid people skills.

Jess Jones was never cut out to be a super-heroine. She doesn’t like to fight, and her tolerance for stress, pain and tension is at best average given her depressive tendencies.

She also feels that she lack the greater-than-life, charismatic dimension that actual heroes have and is just an ordinary person who accidentally ended up with powers.

These self-assessments are not entirely fair – she’s vulnerable but actually breaking her is much harder than it looks, and she excels at doing the right thing and at being a loyal friend and proper human being. Except when she is sloshed.

Jones is an indifferent hand-to-hand fighter – out of condition, devoid of a killer instinct and not particularly inclined toward violence. She does have something of a temper, though, and her strength makes her pretty fast.

When “cold”, she’ll likely fight with mediocre technique, freeze or miss easy shots (in DC Heroes terms, her Uncertainty is part of that) – but when angry and psyched up she’s dangerous (in game terms, spending HPs to amp her AV).


History

Jessica Cambell is the same age as Peter Parker – she also grew up in Queens and they both went to Midtown High. Though Parker was nigh-universally derided as a nerd and professional wallflower, the dorky and shy Jessica had a crush on him.

However, right as she had finally worked up the courage to approach him, Peter became dizzy and nauseous and she couldn’t make her move. Jessica did not see that he had just been bitten by a small radioactive spider.

Jessica Jones with cheap sunglasses

Not too long later, as the Cambells were on their way to Disney World with Jessica and her little brother Philip, they crashed their car into an Army convoy. Their father mistakenly thought that the kids were fighting in the back and accidentally swerved while berating them.

As the car jammed itself between the wheels of an Army truck, a small hazmat container crashed into young Jessica’s lap – from context, one gets the impression that it was the same compound that robbed Matt Murdock of his sight.

Jessica was the only survivor of the crash, but was left in a coma – with a bad prognosis as to her chances of ever waking up.

However, 6 months later, the arrival of Galactus on the nearby Baxter Building and his fight with the Silver Surfer and the Fantastic Four caused a power surge at the hospital. This miraculously woke the kid up, without apparent sequellae.

Scarred for life – no compensation

Cambell was then sent to an orphanage, the Moore House for Wayward Children. Though she wasn’t communicative as she blamed herself for the death of her family, she was adopted by the Joneses.

Albeit she returned to Midtown High and efforts were made to have her resume her life normally, she was ostracised and her feelings of guilt led to hostile behaviour on her part.

After she was mocked by the students as “Coma Girl”, Peter Parker came to her. He through that he could help her by telling her about his experience with the death of his uncle Ben. Unfortunately, the hair-trigger teenager misunderstood and, thinking that Parker was pitying her, ran away in anger.

During her flight she ran on air then accidentally catapulted herself into the Atlantic ocean with her nascent flight power. She would probably have drowned, but was rescued by the mighty Thor (Thor Odinson).

Later experimentation led to the discovery that she had super-strength, and she accidentally knocked out the criminal Scorpion (Mac Gargan) as she attempted to fly for the second time.

Jessica Jones working and smoking in her office

Jessica Jones eventually developed the costumed identity of Jewel. Her Jewel outfit was inspired by then-contemporary hit movie Flashdance. She didn’t wear a mask, thinking that it would make her appreciated like the Fantastic Four rather than rejected like the anonymous Spider-Man.

Though she was a C-lister, Jewel was a New York City super-hero and presumably shared a number of cases with other heroes of that place and time. During this era she thus met Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers, later Captain Marvel), who gradually became a close friend.

Jewel’s career crashed during a chance encounter with the sadistic Purple Man (Zebediah Killgrave). He took mental control of her for 8 months, psychologically molesting in revenge for all the defeats other super-heroes had dealt him.

What have you got, to take away ?

This ordeal stopped when, in a fit of anger, Killgrave sent her to attack Avengers’ Mansion. Jones hit and wounded the Scarlet Witch – at which point she regained her free will, as she had been out of Killgrave’s zone of influence for long enough.

Panicking, she tried to flee but was brought down by the Avengers’ brutal return fire. Ms. Marvel, who was an Avenger at that point, intervened and possibly saved her life by flying her to a S.H.I.E.L.D. hospital.

Badly wounded, Jewel sunk into a coma – largely out of psychic stress from 8 months of mind control. S.H.I.E.L.D. worked for several days to revive her, and eventually did the trick by requesting help from the X-Men. Phoenix (Jean Grey) telepathically contacted Jones and had her wake up.

The former Jewel went through several months of S.H.I.E.L.D. therapy, during which she had a relationship with senior S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Clay Quartermain.

Colonel Fury and Agent Quartermain offered to hire her as the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent liaising with the Avengers, with that team’s support. However, by that point Jess was spent and couldn’t stomach the costumes and heroes anymore, seeing herself as a dismal failure who simply didn’t have the right stuff.

She walked away.

You get to meet all sorts in this line of work

Jones nevertheless felt forced to return to heroing, out of a sense of responsibility. That was apparently several years later, in what she describes as “a darker time”.

Her new, grittier costumed identity was called Knightress, and this time she wore a mask. Knightress was active for but 1 week, and was chiefly driven by anger and a need to hit things as Jones struggled with her baggage.

Jessica Jones doing legwork

During her brief career, Knightress intercepted the Owl (Leland Owlsley) and his men after he had a shootout with the police. She stormed their hideout, and was joined by the Heroes for Hire – Luke Cage and Iron Fist (Daniel Rand-K’ai).

Cage encouraged Knightress to stick around to talk to the cops, and they discovered that Owlsley’s 2 young kids were on the scene.

The NYPD had no solution but to take the children to a station for the night. Not wanting the kids to go through this Jones revealed her identity to the police so they’d run a background check and let her take the children to her place for the night.

Jessica’s selfless, principled stand impressed Luke, and he came to her places in his civvies, bringing sandwiches and bandages. Though Jones again renounced being a super-heroine, she and Cage became friends that night.

Jones subsequently established herself as a private investigator. This occupation allowed her to help people without being a heroine, wearing a costume or dealing with weird super-hero things. How she did so is unrevealed, but it is possible that Cage had P.I. friends (such as Nathaniel “Blackbyrd” Byrd) teach her what she needed to get started.

I go checking out the reports – digging up the dirt

By 2001, Jessica seemed to be a well-established minor P.I.. Since her identity was only a secret during a few days as Knightress, super-hero fans and people googling her name will know that she has powers and used to be a heroine.

However, she cringes away from any super-stuff and chiefly deal with ordinary private eye cases. That usually means adultery and familial strife.

She stays on good if distant terms with Quartermain, and remains one of Danvers’ best friends though Carol can be difficult. While her haphazard love life still is something of a train wreck, she has been growing closer to Luke Cage.

However, one of her cases in 2001 would take an unexpected turn – and events from then on seemed to conspire to bring her back into contact with the world of super-heroes. Beyond the unusual cases she handled during this era, she also worked for Matthew Murdock as a bodyguard during these months when the blind lawyer was accused of being Daredevil.


Timeline note

As a quick side note for those who like reading our considerations about time in the Marvel Universe… Jess Jones is interesting in that she exists in a sped up timeline.

  • She’s the same age as Peter Parker, so she’s born circa 1945 so she can be there when he’s bitten by that spider in 1961 (publication date).
  • When her parents take her and her brother to Disney World, it has to be at least in late 1971 (Disney World opening date).
  • By the time she creates her Jewel identity, Flashdance has been recently released, so we’re now in 1983.
  • And when she is Knightress and takes the Owl’s kid to her apartment, she shows them Toy Story – so we’re now at least in 1995 (though Cage is still wearing the yellow shirt disco getup, which by publication date he wasn’t wearing anymore by, at the latest, 1992).
  • Her actual first appearance (Alias #1) is in 2001 – all previous events are of course retcons.

Description

Jess is usually dressed in subdued street clothing. That often means a shapeless grey turtleneck sweater, black jeans and a nice black $400 leather jacket that several persons have complimented her for. Her lifestyle leaves her eyes tired, and she’ll often be wearing dark sunglasses when outside.

Jessica Jones working in her office, painted art

Jones’ opinion of herself as fat and unattractive is unfair — she doesn’t have the idealised super-heroine body, but by any reasonable standard she’s cute and well-built. She sports strong shoulders and doesn’t seem to have actually put on any weight despite the lack of exercise.

Despite her recriminations that she is frumpy, she’s actually aware that she can be attractive. It’s just that she doesn’t want to.

Her language features a staggering density of four-letter words, and would be illegible if censored.

This is tied to her morale and blood alcohol level, though – if she is sober and feeling well, she doesn’t swear much. As she generally gets better during the Alias run, the barrage of “shits” and “fucks” significantly diminishes.


Personality

During the early Alias run, Jones appears to be a burned out has-been or never-was, struggling with non-clinical depression, near-alcoholism and a terrible self-image as a stupid, inept cow.

She has a combination of fretfulness and bad temper that can be difficult given her job. Being a P.I. keeps dragging her into squalid, sordid cases about failed marriages and familial infighting.

She drinks a lot to cope with her depression – which of course doesn’t actually help any. All-night drinking binges in shitty bars are not unusual for her, but she isn’t an actual alcoholic yet – quite probably due to her slightly superhuman constitution. It messes up her life, but she’s not physically addicted.

She’s also a smoker, but not a chain-smoker and probably not addicted to nicotine.

Jessica Jones and Luke Cage hugging

Though Jess is convinced that she’s a stupid, pathetic loser it is not true. She’s actually smart and personable, she’s not a bad P.I. (though she’s not exceptional either) and despite her ample baggage she can be relied upon to do the decent thing even if it costs.

She only looks like a failure compared to powerhouses such as Captain America or her friend Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) – by real-world standards she’s a good and capable woman.

Though Jones’ primary apparent motivation is that she needs to pay the rent, she’s actually driven by a sense of responsibility for her powers that is comparable to Spider-Man’s (Peter Parker). She simply has to help and defend people, particularly children, even if that hurts a lot.

Even when she’s scared senseless, the “ignore the problem and do nothing” option doesn’t even enter her mind.

She tends to get emotional and babble when stressed, but that will not prevent her from making courageous choices.

Confidential information – it’s in a diary

Jones feels terribly lonely and is half-desperate to find a good man to live with. Her poor morale and self-image, and her alcohol habit, definitely get in the way of that, and she hasn’t been terribly lucky so far – or perhaps men sense her neediness.

She’s not half-bad at getting one-night stands with semi-random blokes, but that never goes anywhere. Still, the sex is a diversion from loneliness. She tends to fall in love quite easily, and hates herself for that.

Jones is pro-mutant rights and pro-social justice. She’s not political and doesn’t articulate her beliefs, but she’ll always be on the side of the little guy and minorities. She doesn’t trust the police, due to prior bad experiences with the NYPD and a certain dislike of authorities.

As a relatively normal person, and despite her time as a costumed heroine, Jessica has trouble wrapping her mind around the sheer weirdness of super-heroics. When it comes to high weirdness such as magic, mental powers, alternate timelines, etc. her brain doesn’t seem to process things and her body goes into a sort of quiet panic.

This is an understandable and presumably common reaction – the world of super-heroes is just too surreal, too extreme, too violent and the stakes are too damn high.

Why Jessica and Carol are close friends is not actually explained in the series, but it seems likely that Jessica’s admires Carol’s charisma and extraordinary competitive drive – exactly what Jessica feels she’s lacking.


Quotes

(While browsing a women’s magazine) “‘Thin is in’… Fuck you. ‘How to keep your man’s eyes from wandering…’ Damn ! Fuck you !! ‘Dressing for success – more cleavage and legs.’ Fuckers. Fucking damnit – no wonder I feel like shit about myself all the time. This is – this is the worst thing I have ever… Hmmmm… maybe I should take this quiz though…”

“God fucking shit of all shit. This is Captain fucking America. Changing from his secret identity into Captain fucking America. That just doesn’t happen. Does it ? Shit.”

Thor (having just saved Jessica from drowning): “Have no worry, young maiden. Thou art quite safe.”
Jessica (unwillingly vomiting swallowed sea water on his boots) “Huagg !! Sorry. Shit. Fuck.”
Thor: “Young maiden of Midgard, thy language leaves something to be desired.”

Madame Web : “I am Madame Web. I see the future to come.”
Jones (instinctively): “Will I ever find true love ?” (Pauses as she realizes how stupid she sounds)

(Gesturing toward herself) “Hey, private investigator right here. Professional snoop professionally.”

“And although, clearly, there is this shit between us. Me and you… I just felt that coming to you with this mess was, I don’t know, the right thing to do. I’m sure this is awkward for both of us, certainly I do. But she’s just a girl and… Welll…”

“I didn’t come here to be nauseated. I can stay home for that.”

“Here’s a couple of little secrets of the private investigating trade. You ready ? Firstly, I spend more time verifying that the client is legit than I do finding the person.”

“You shoot that gun at me — I will pull that bullet out of my ruined $400 leather jacket and I will shove it up your ass with my pinky finger. And which one of us do you think that will hurt more ?”

“This isn’t what I want. This isn’t what I *want* in my life — what the fuck am I *doing* here ? I didn’t have to do this ! What the fuck am I thinking ?”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Jess Jones (Alias Investigations – early)

Dex: 04 Str: 08 Bod: 06 Motivation: Responsibility for Power
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: P.I.
Inf: 03 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 009 HP: 015

Powers:
Flight: 03, Jumping: 13

Bonuses and Limitations:
Flight is Minor Marginal

Skills:
Detective (Legwork): 04, Vehicles (Land): 03

Advantages
Area Knowledge (New York City), Headquarters (Confined, her office)

Connections:
Luke Cage (High), Carol Danvers (Low), Clay Quartermain (Low), Matt Murdock (Low), Jessica Drew (Low), Street (Low)

Drawbacks:
MIA toward Alcohol, MIA toward Depression, Public Identity, Uncertainty

Equipment:
A cell phone, a camera, a pair of dark sunglasses, a station wagon, a MacBook.


Jess as Jewel

The story gives the impression that Jess was more powerful and adept as Jewel, before depression, alcoholism and a coma took their toll. It is likely that her DEX was 05 and her STR a 10, her Flight was higher (perhaps a 07) and not Minor Marginal, and she presumably had 25-ish HPs. She was also Drawbacks-free.

As Knightress, her stats were probably those in the main block above.


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Jessica Jones (in the Alias Marvel MAX series) — Averaged PL6.8

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
00 (07) 01 (04) 01 01 01 (02) 01 01 01

Powers

Damn effing stupid powers ● 43 points ● Descriptor: Mutate
– Super-strength — Enhanced Strength 7, Enhanced Fighting 1, Close attack 2
– Enhanced durability — Enhanced Stamina 3, Protection 2, Enhanced Fortitude 2
– Flight, sort of — Leaping 13, Tiring Flight 2

Combat Advantages

All-Out Attack, Chokehold, Close Attack 2, Defensive Roll 2

Other Advantages

Benefit (Jess knows several really useful people – Luke Cage, Carol Danvers, Clay Quartermain, Matt Murdock and Jessica Drew), Equipment 1

Skills

Close combat (Unarmed) 2 (+6), Deception 2 (+3), Expertise (New York City streetwise) 4 (+5), Insight 4 (+5), Investigation 6 (+7) (Limited 1 to Search, Gather Information, Surveillance), Perception 4 (+5), Persuasion 1 (+2), Vehicles 4 (+5) (Limited 2 to common land vehicles)

Equipment

A cell phone, a camera, a pair of dark sunglasses, a station wagon, a MacBook (collectively counted as Equipment 1 since these ordinary items play very little role).

Offense

Initiative +1
Unarmed +6, Close, Damage 7

Defense

Dodge 5 Fortitude 9
Parry 6 Toughness 8*/6
Will 4

* With Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Addiction Jones has an alcohol problem, a casual sex habit, and is a heavy smoker
  • Depressive Jess has clear depressive tendencies, and may have a self-confidence problem in certain crisis situations. She has a terrible self-image.
  • Public identity Super-heroes enthusiasts may realise that Jones is a former super-heroine
  • Temper Jess can occasionally get real angry
  • Responsibility Though she hates it, Jessica can be counted upon to do the right thing and protect people even if it costs her a great deal

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack/Effect PL 7, Dodge/Toughness PL 7, Parry/Toughness PL 7, Fort/Will PL 7
  • Point total 88 Abilities 14, Defences 14, Skills 11, Powers 43, Devices 0, Advantages 6. Equiv. PL 6.


Notes

Jess was tougher as Jewel – but probably not as Knightress. As Jewel raise her Fighting and Dexterity by 1, bump her Dodge and Parry to 8, raise her STR to 10, raise her Flight to 6 Ranks (no longer Tiring) and drop all her Complications but the last one. Other improvements such as a slightly better Will save are also possible.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: This entry only covers the run of the excellent limited MAX series Alias by Bendis and Gaydos. It doesn’t incorporate later flashbacks at this stage – with one exception (her career as Knightress, from The Pulse #14).

Writeup completed on the 15th of October, 2013.

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