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Jessica Jones’ finale teases the birth of a superhero

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They say cats have nine lives

Eka Darville as Malcolm and Rachael Taylor as Trish in Marvel’s Jessica Jones Season 2 on Netflix. David Giesbrecht/Netflix

At the very very end of Jessica Jones’ second season, the show makes a big tease — one of its characters appears to have developed their very own superpowers, after previously being just a normal run-of-the-mill human being.

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for Jessica Jones season two.]

What does it mean? And what comes next? A third season of the show has yet to be announced, but we can make some guesses based on the character’s superpowered Marvel Comics counterpart.

In the final episode of Jessica Jones season two, “AKA Playland,” Jessica’s foster sister and best friend, Trish Walker, culminates a season of questionable decision-making — including allowing a crack doctor to nearly kill her in an attempt to give her superpowers — with something that’ll put a rift between her and Jess for a long time. But as she’s walking away from Jess’ apartment after a failed apology, something strange happens.

Unexpectedly jostled, she drops her cell phone on the threshold of the elevator, and in slow motion, we watch it drop toward the gap between the elevator car and the floor, straight for the might-as-well-be-bottomless depths of the elevator shaft. As a city dweller myself, I experienced a palpable rise in my own blood pressure.

But then, as if on instinct, Trish’s foot snakes out, and she catches the phone on her toes. She balances easily on one foot, momentarily stunned, and then, just as easily, flips the phone back into the air and catches it.

Trish turning out to have superpowers is intriguing — but not surprising.

Trish Walker is a Marvel superhero

Trish Walker is based on a Marvel character who goes by the name Patsy Walker (Trish and Patsy both being short for Patricia). Patsy Walker is the alter ego of the superhero Hellcat, and Hellcat’s story is pretty fascinating in and of itself.

To explain that, we have to go back to the 1940s. Twenty years before Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s The Fantastic Four #1 would kick off Marvel’s superhero universe, it was a time when teen rom-com comics were as big a sell as superheroes, and Patsy Walker was one of the biggest. These days, Archie Comics is one of the few surviving publishers of what was once a thriving genre all its own, and in her heyday, Patsy Walker was a lot like a female version of Archie Andrews — or what Archie comics would have been like if Betty or Veronica were the real star.

Patsy was created by the pioneering female cartoonist Ruth Atkinson, and her early stories were written and drawn by Al Jaffee, the creator of Mad Magazine’s “Fold-In,” and Al Hartley, who would go on to write for Archie Comics. In her heyday, Patsy was appearing in multiple teen titles, not to mention her own eponymous series and its spinoffs, a lot like Archie Andrews. But by the mid-’60s, sales were waning all over the comics industry as the medium struggled with a changing America and draconian industry content codes. Patsy last appeared in a teen-humor comic in 1967.

Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat on the cover of Marvel Comics Presents, Marvel Comics (2007).
Patsy as Hellcat, flanked by some images of herself in other phases of her eventful life.
Stuart Immonen, Dave McCaig/Marvel Comics

But two years before her “final” appearance, Patsy Walker had made a cameo in the 1965 Fantastic Four annual, establishing that she lived in the Marvel universe. You can probably already see where this is going. In 1972, Steve Englehart — a writer/editor responsible for some of the bigger, crazier events at Marvel in the 1970s — reintroduced Patsy as the martial arts-based superhero Hellcat. She even joined the Defenders (who, to be fair, were a very different team than the one appearing in Netflix’s Marvel shows).

In Marvel’s superhero universe, it’s established that Patsy is a minor celebrity — just like she is in Jessica Jones on Netflix — due to the popularity of the teen romance comics her mother wrote about Patsy’s own childhood. This means that all of those Patsy Walker comics Marvel was publishing in the ’40s and ’50s were also published comics within the Marvel Universe. Wrap your head around that.

So is Trish going to become Hellcat?

Very possibly! In the comics, Hellcat relies primarily on her martial arts training and gymnast skills to fight crime. Thanks to some dabbling in the arcane, she also has a few minor mystical talents, including the ability to sense magical energy.

Trish is also established to have extensive martial arts training in Jessica Jones, and a strong desire to become a vigilante similar to the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, Luke Cage. With what seems like a newly developed set of super-reflexes, this might just be her chance to realize her long-held ambition ... whenever Jessica Jones season 3 rolls around.