SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Jessica Jones #17 by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, Matt Hollingsworth and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
It’s strange to think that it was over fifteen years ago that Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos took a schlocky D-List Daredevil villain and made him into one of the most terrifying forces in the entire Marvel Universe.
Since the very beginning, Jessica Jones’ past, present and her future have all been tied to the fate of The Purple Man, but now it’s finally over, once and for all. With the mind-manipulating villain near death, he offers Jessica a deal with the devil which could change the world, and the conclusion to Bendis and Gaydos’ decades long story reaches a final, definitive end.
Nothing Rhymes With Purple
Jessica Jones’ history with Zebediah Killgrave goes all the way back to her time as the costumed superhero Jewel, when she was young, eager and enthusiastic about her life and her role in the superhero community. That is, until she came across The Purple Man who took control of her life and kept her under his thumb for months; forcing her to want him and constantly rejecting her for his own amusement.
She finally broke free of his control after he forced her to fight the combined Avengers and Defenders rosters, but he’s always been there, lurking in the dark corners of her mind.
In the series' most recent arc, “The Return of Purple Man,” the villain has found himself at a crossroads, faced with the realization that he may, in fact, be a god. After all, with the powers he has, who’s to say he’s not? When his attempts to get at Jessica through both her daughter and her best friend Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel) backfired spectacularly, Killgrave tried a different approach. He gave himself over to Jessica and said that she could use him and his powers however she sees fit, in order to make the world a better place.
The Final Conversation
The majority of the issue depicts something Bendis and Gaydos have always excelled at with Jessica: A conversation. It has those big, double-page spreads with dozens and dozens of word balloons while Jessica and Killgrave debate the morality of using his manipulation powers for good. Their conversation ends with Killgrave apologizing for what he put her through, and could almost be read as a conversation between author and creation; Bendis apologizing to Jessica for all of the messed-up stuff she’s been through for the sake of readers' entertainment. After a brief run-in with Captain Marvel, Killgrave is allowed to walk free... and he promptly drops dead from the bullet wound he received from Kraven in Jessica Jones #15.
Killgrave has come back from the dead before, so this time Carol Danvers does something she maybe should have done a long time ago, and throws his body into the sun. After nearly two decades, the saga of Jessica Jones and the Purple Man is finally over, and he’s finally gone forever and ever.
Of course, no one ever dies forever in superhero comics, even people thrown into the sun (hello, Carnage) but it does put a definitive full stop on the story Bendis and Gaydos started with Jessica way back in late-2001. Bendis and Gaydos have one more issue left before they depart the series and the character for good and with the next issue blurb teasing “The True Meaning,” Jessica Jones #18 promises to be a huge and fateful goodbye to the character that helped establish their careers.