Married for more than 10 years, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage have weathered many trials and evils as Marvel‘s power couple. How their romance will progress on television is up to the producers to decide in future seasons of Netflix’s “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “The Defenders.”
On Sept. 30, “Luke Cage” arrives as the latest series in the Marvel/Netflix lineup. The show’s primary focus is to introduce viewers to Power-Man — his struggles, his triumphs, his love for his city, Harlem — on a deeper level than he was previously depicted on “Jessica Jones.”
While it’s unclear whether Marvel will honor the power couple by pairing the heroes, one thing is certain: The two lovers will meet again on “The Defenders.” Whether or not they like it, they will end up working together — and perhaps then we’ll see if there’s hope for them to rekindle their romance after they parted ways in the Season 1 finale of “Jessica Jones.”
If this timeline seems too long for those who want to see Jessica and Luke together already, fear not! We’ve collected our 10 favorite moments from their relationship in comics as we eagerly await more.
11. 1. Jessica Jones Confides to Luke Cage about the Purple Man
“Alias” #25 by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos
In “Alias” #25, Jessica Jones is just beginning to transition her relationship with Luke Cage from one that’s kinda-sorta a fling into something more meaningful for her. Proof of this subtle shift can be seen in the sequence above (click to see the full page), as she confides to Luke what it was like to be under the Purple Man’s control. Before this moment, Jessica had never confided in anyone, and Luke is the first to hear about her horrors, her guilt and her desire to move on from this painful experience. What makes this moment beautiful isn’t simply the decision by Jessica to open up, but the depiction by artist Michael Gaydos of Luke as he listens to everything she says without interrupting as she fills the room with word balloons. He sits quietly besides her, letting her take as much time and space as she needs.
It would’ve been a mistake for Brian Michael Bendis write Luke Cage in this moment as someone who would rage against Jessica’s pain, vowing to defeat the Purple Man (as I’m sure other superhero boyfriends would have done and have done; looking at you, Wolverine). It would take the focus off of Jessica’s needs. Understanding that the best way to help her is to simply be there in her rare moment of vulnerability is one of the many reasons why Jessica loves and can rely on Luke.
10. 2. Jessica Jones Takes Power Man’s Name to Honor Family Legacy
“New Avengers” Vol. 2, #8 by Brian Michael Bendis & Daniel Acuna
One of the best parts about Jessica and Luke’s relationship is their banter. Here, in “New Avengers” #8, we see the couple going back and forth at restaurant about whether it’s a good idea to be a superhero when they have a family. They can’t even take a moment to see the waitress beside them as they fall into their world and forget everything else around them. Ultimately, Luke wants Jessica to remain a superhero and take on the “Power” name to create a legacy that their daughter Danielle can be proud of.
Although it’s short-lived, Jessica agrees to take the name of Power Woman so she can fight beside her husband and give her daughter a name to inherit too. This moment is a little silly but is packed with a ton of emotion, as they are notoriously stubborn together. Here we see them think not just of themselves or their argument but about what will benefit their daughter and what kind of family they want to be. Jones realizes in this issue that she can’t deny to Danielle that she’s a superhero and that she comes from this family — and that she shouldn’t be ashamed or let her fears get in the way of her finding justice for herself, her husband and her daughter.
9. 3. United Front: Jones and Cage Decline Iron Man’s Request to Sign Superhuman Registration Act
“New Avengers” #22 by Brian Michael Bendis & Leinil Francis Yu
While this moment may not be the happiest, it does a lot to deepen the complexity of Jessica and Luke’s relationship. Sometimes, they don’t agree, but what makes them amazing is that they’re able to disagree, find a solution, and then reconcile afterward.
In “New Avengers” #22, Cage and Jones argue about whether they should sign the Superhuman Registration Act as advised by Iron Man and Ms. Marvel. Initially, they’re on the same page, as they believed that registration could by used against them by the government, particularly considering Luke’s past.
However, as they fight against the act, their home life becomes unstable, and they’re forced to remain on the move to avoid being apprehended. Fearful for the fate of her baby and not wanting to fight against people she’s known for years, Jessica decides to leave Luke to find shelter for herself and their child while he continues his war.
Later, she rejoins her husband and his allies to defeat the alien Skrulls once it’s clear that there is no other option for her than to fight a battle that risks hurting more people she loves. What’s heartwarming about this exchange is that Jessica and Luke were able to reconcile their differences and respect one another’s choices, even if they couldn’t agree on the methods. Jessica didn’t stop her husband from waging a fight he believed in, and Luke didn’t prevent his wife from taking their child out of harm’s way. Together they were able to find a way through warfare, and ultimately come together again, without harboring resentment.
8. 3. Cage’s Reaction to Jessica’s Pregnancy/Crush
“Alias,” #28 by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos
One of my favorite moments in “Alias” is when Jessica tries to tell Luke that she’s developed strong feelings for him, and is also pregnant. The only thing that can make this moment even more awkward and oddly charming is that Luke also has been trying to tell Jessica how he feels about her. After confessing that they “like like” each other, in a particularly high school-ish moment, Jones also admits she’s pregnant with Luke’s baby.
Bendis’ writing of this moment is perfect for this couple, who never followed the traditional steps of dating but who never seemed to care that there were steps.
Luke’s reaction in this exchange is priceless joy. While we can see Jessica nervously bite her nails, quint her eyes and run her fingers through her, we also take in Luke’s response: a smile so bright that it catches Jessica’s attention and is only amplified when she admits that she plans to keep their baby. His response, and in the way “Alias” ends, is with his words “New Chapter.”
Luke doesn’t skip a beat in this moment, nor does he try to hide his excitement over this new potential for their life. When she sees he’s able to envision a future with her and is ready to embrace whatever might come their way, Jessica is able to relax and give herself and the series breathing room to explore what will come next in “Pulse” and future Avengers stories.
7. 5. Jessica & Luke as Daredevil’s Bodyguards *Not Caring* for Each Other
“Alias,” Vol. 2 by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos
Before Jessica and Luke admitted their feelings to each other, there was a lot of flirtatious banter going on in “Alias,” and most of it was happening right outside Daredevil’s door.
While the two superheroes initially met up in a bar to drink and have a one-night stand, the affair didn’t end there. The two encountered each other again (post-sex and no call from either party) as they worked part of Matt Murdock’s team of bodyguards.
Clearly annoyed with each other and the awkwardness of their work situation, Jessica and Luke get under each other’s skin with needling remarks. For a moment in the above sequence, you can see Matt’s door open, and his face appear in the distance. The best part about this situation is that neither Jessica nor Luke has learned that Matt is Daredevil, and so they think they are being clever by hiding their flirty banter in insults. However, Matt of course can hear everything they say.
6. 6. Luke Cage Deals with High School Jealousy
“New Avengers,” Vol. 1 #51 by Brian Michael Bendis & Billy Tan
Within “New Avengers” #51, Spider-Man is unmasked to his fellow Avengers, including Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. Intended to help his teammates trust the wall-crawler, the act actually triggers jealousy when Jessica reveals she attended high school with Peter Parker, and actually had a crush on him.
However, Peter doesn’t remember Jessica as anything more than the “coma-girl,” which Jessica finds hurtful — not only because they were in the same science class, but also because it reminds her of the time she lost following her accident.
Luke is bothered by Jessica’s confession, and attempt to control his jealousy at length. His reaction is comical, and the tension is only heightened when he and Spider-Man are stuck traveling together in Clint Barton’s plane.
5. 7. Luke Cage Changes His First Diaper
“New Avengers” #47 by Brian Michael Bendis & Billy Tan
Watching Luke Cage change a diaper and be fascinated by baby poop is by far one the best moments this power couple has to offer. While this moment is silly, it’s also careful to show how concerned Luke is about his daughter. Everything is new and strange and important to discuss, like … the color of Danielle’s poops.
It’s a great panel to show the couple’s experience as first-time parents, and how they talk about this experience with each other. Jessica is encouraging rather than dismissive, and Luke is concerned and careful with the hesitation of someone who desires to be the best parent he can be.
Power Man is learning how to be Power Dad, and he wants everything to go right. There are a handful of moments like this, but this one is by far my favorite, as Bendis and Tan do a great job at balancing the confusion, humor and novelty of the first diaper change of new parents. It’s such a normal experience that it’s a relief to see this couple also be a little confused about the situation. Sure, they’re Avengers, but that doesn’t mean they have experience with parenting. Many comics might’ve shied away from showing that vulnerable side. Danielle is very much a part of their lives and takes focus their discussions and in their actions. In time, the pair learns how to balance parenting with their other jobs.
4. 8. Jessica Jones’ Vow to Luke Cage
“New Avengers Annual” #1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Ollvier Colpel & Jose Villarrubia
Luke and Jessica don’t follow a traditional path, so it should be no surprise they would come up with their own vows to use for their wedding. Naturally, there are a lot of guests in attendance, including Wolverine and a pastor who looks an awful lot like Stan Lee. But just as it seems everything will go off without a hitch, Jessica interrupts the ceremony.
3. 9. Jessica and Luke Take Down Superior Spider-Man
“Mighty Avengers” Vol. 2 #4, by Al Ewing & Greg Land
Throughout “Mighty Avengers” it’s Luke’s new mission to bring together the Mighty Avengers, based out of the Gem Theater. Although Jessica is nervous about what it would mean to have a superhero team around her child, she supports him in his decision. However, as she guessed, it does become more complicated to run a superhero team while also raising a family. In this issue, Luke tries to balance being a family man and leading the Mighty Avengers, which creates friction with Jessica.
But any frustration dissolves when Luke and Jessica face a common enemy in Superior Spider-Man, who sends his robotic spider army to their home to snuff out what he views as a potential threat. As soon as Jessica realizes the Superior Spider-Man risked the safety of her daughter, she fights alongside her husband to defeat his adversary. I love this moment, because it shows that while the couple is always trying to find a balance between home and work life, there isn’t a second hesitation when it comes to fighting to keep their family safe. Jessica will fight beside Luke if he needs her, and he’ll happily accept her help. While she will continue to express her thoughts to others about Luke starting another team of Avengers, Jessica won’t stand in his way of doing what matters to him. They will continue to work at that balance.
2. 10. Aftermath of Danielle Cage’s Kidnapping
“New Avengers” #49 by Brian Michael Bendis & Billy Tan
During the Secret Invasion of New York, Jessica accidentally leaves her baby with a shape-shifting Skrull, whom she believes to be long-time Avengers butler Edwin Jarvis. When she realizes her grave mistake, she tells Luke, who makes a deal with Norman Osborn to use his resources to find their daughter.
While Osborn’s methods are questionable, they do have results, and the issue ends with Danielle back in the arms of Luke and Jessica. It’s an important moment, as it gives credence to Jessica’s concerns about the dangers of having a family amid superheroes. The writing paints Jessica as legitimately worried about her family, as anyone else might be during a war between teams of superhumans. Of course, the typical family probably wouldn’t have to worry whether their babysitter is a Skrull.
Luke doesn’t blame or resent Jessica for nearly losing their daughter. Instead, he realizes the concerns Jessica has are real, and that no matter what he chooses to do, he has to weigh those risks against the safety of his family. Danielle’s abduction reminds both Jessica and Luke that while they can have a work life and family balance, they need to be on the same page when it comes to protecting their daughter. Goons will always be after them and they will always be fighting, but in a world like theirs, they need to hold tight to their most important person. The couple is able to find both humor in solace in retrieving Danielle and are only brought closer by the experience.
1. BONUS ROUND: Who Will Babysit Dani?
“New Avengers” #7 by Brian Michael Bendis, Laura Martin & Stuart Immonen
In “New Avengers” #7, Luke and Jessica begin their search for a nanny. However, because they’re superheroes embarking on a work life in which they will be surrounded by costumed enemies, they decide they want to have a nanny with superpowers. That leads to interviews with numerous recognizable Marvel Comics characters, including Groot, Deadpool, Hellcat and a desperate Demolition Man.
Although Luke and Jessica ultimately hire Squirrel-Girl, the sequence above depicts the process they had to go through to find the right nanny. It’s also another great example at how Bendis is able to inject something “normal” into the world superheroes and spin it to be both interesting and humanizing.
At the end of the day, Jessica and Luke are two powerful beings who aren’t above asking for a little help to raise their family as they work full-time to help not only themselves but an entire city — and sometimes the world. While the family may run into conflict, Spider-robots and old crushes, it’s undeniable that they only want the best for each other, their family and to find a way to make the world a safer place for mutants, Inhumans, humans, super-soldiers and all walks of zany life they will inevitably face.
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