As Jessica Jones title moves towards its second “season” next year, Jessica’s life is about to get a major shake-up from writer Kelly Thompson and artist Mattia De Iulis.
In this week’s Jessica Jones #3 (spoilers ahead!), Jessica and Luke Cage’s daughter Dani will undergo a transformation – starting with the development of purple skin. What does this mean for Jessica’s family? And is there a deeper connection between Jessica and the nightmarish villain the Purple Man?
That begins to be answered in the second volume of Thompson's Jessia Jones, titled Purple Daughter, scheduled to debut January 16 as part of Marvel's digitial-first MDO initiative. Newsarama spoke to Thompson about what new limited series means for the Jones/Cage family.
Newsarama: Kelly, the subtitle of the next Jessica Jones volume is Purple Daughter. What’s the story behind that subtitle?
Kelly Thompson: Well, unfortunately for us all, it’s a very literal title. As we see in the brutal cliffhanger to Jessica Jones #3 that came out yesterday, Dani Cage (Jessica and Luke Cage’s daughter) has suddenly turned purple…indicating some connection between Dani and Killgrave aka The Purple Man. This is obviously one of Jessica’s greatest fears.
Nrama: What’s the Purple Man’s involvement in this story? Kelly
Thompson: I can’t entirely reveal that, obviously. Jessica Jones is a lot of things but it’s first and foremost a detective story and so Jessica has to get to the bottom of what’s going on with Dani, what it means, if she can stop it. But I am not exaggerating when I call it her most personal and devastating case.
Nrama: Should we be worried about Dani Cage?
Thompson: Yes and for Jessica and Luke. But in any good story I hope you’re worried about characters you love. And in any superhero (or detective!) story with stakes, you shouldn’t be relaxed and calm and unworried. These are dangerous places to live as a fictional character. Jessica’s world is particularly dangerous.
Nrama: Jessica’s been through a lot in her life, especially related to her family. What’s at stake for her here?
Thompson: I think it’s everything. One thing that I think we hit really well in our first arc was how important Jessica’s family is to her. It’s very uncomfortable for Jessica to have a lot of people she cares about, she has generally preferred to be alone – it’s safer and easier - but Dani and Luke have sort of robbed her of that luxury. Jessica doesn’t like to connect to things because the risk of losing them is so high, but she’s really come to accept that she can’t run from this beautiful family she has almost accidentally ended up with. But that makes the stakes higher and more terrible than ever for her.
Nrama: You’re working with Mattia De Iulis on this arc. What does Mattia bring to a story like “Purple Daughter”?
Thompson: We’re lost without Mattia. He has already shown everyone what a tremendous artist he is and what a great fit he is for Jessica, especially with his colors, which hit this incredible sort of neo noir sweet spot that’s a little bit superhero, a little bit detective, a little bit sci-fi Blade Runner esque. It’s stunning stuff. But for this story…it’s so brutal for Jessica and it meant that on the writing side it had to feel quieter…more serious and heavy…darker. As a result, it relies even more heavily on Mattia to land the emotional components visually – to really render those emotions. We had a big talk at the beginning of the new arc – I think it began with me apologizing for how much the weight of this was going to fall on him as a result of the narrative – but he was totally up for the challenge and he hasn’t disappointed for a moment. It’s amazing work he’s doing.
Nrama: Where’s Luke throughout all of this?
Thompson: Luke plays a much more integral part of this arc than the last one, as this is obviously personal for him as well. But it’s still Jessica’s story, so while you can expect to see a lot more of Luke – and in some surprising ways – it’s still Jessica’s case to solve, Jessica’s history, and Jessica’s trauma to process. Not that it’s not traumatic for Luke, but just that it’s trauma that stems from Jessica’s past.
Nrama: You Jessica Jones stories are broken into “seasons.” When does the next season kick off, and what’s the thought behind that model?
Thompson: “Season Two” begins 1/16/19! Which is pretty good - I just found out the date and am really pleased it’s hitting in January! I can’t answer entirely about the thought behind the model, because those are obviously decisions well above my pay grade. But from my perspective, comics is a constantly changing landscape and not being afraid of that change…rather pushing on it and keeping flexible is a good thing. I’m not wild about us being the first guy through the wall – that guy always gets bloody! – but I think it’s great that Marvel is thinking about these things and being proactive about ways to approach audiences. Not every book can be the flagship Avengers or X-Men book, and they shouldn’t be! So I appreciate that we’re experimenting with the form.
Nrama: Beyond Purple Daughter, what can we expect in Jessica Jones season 2?
Kelly: Well, as you can imagine, a case this personal is pretty all encompassing for Jessica, and there’s a very big mystery at the center of this story, so this is going to consume Jessica’s attention and thus our next “season” pretty intensely. But we’ve got some great guest stars popping up, including Carol Danvers and Kara Killgrave, which will keep things interesting.