Quarrel (Jessica Darlene Taggart)

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Quarrel (Jessica Darlene Taggart)
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© Juke Box Productions


AstroFacts


Status: Active
Real Name: Jessica Darlene Taggart
Earliest (in world) Appearance: 1982
Affiliation: Honor Guard (1987 - 2015)

Omega Rangers (1982 - and only a few weeks at that)

Base of Operations: Astro City


Personal Data


Relatives: (father) Mack Taggart - The original Quarrel

(mother) <name not revealed>
(brother) Toby (Little Brisket)
(brother) (Little Mack)
(brother) Richard (Dickie)(Squirrel-Tail)

Date of Birth: 1967
Hair: short black


InfoDump


Appearances (in Publication Order): Kurt Busiek's Astro City Vol.1 #1, 3, 5, 6

Kurt Busiek's Astro City Vol.2 #1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 15, 19, 22
Astro City: Local Heroes #1
Astro City: Beautie #1
Astro City: The Dark Age Book Three #1, 4
Astro City: The Dark Age Book Four #3, 4
Astro City #2, 3, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25


Event Timeline

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A career that spans approximately three decades, most of it spent with Honor Guard, Jessica Darlene Taggart is the second person to wear the now iconic costume of Quarrel. Her fighting style is finely honed, athletic, and firmly disciplined. In her early years, she was spunky, determined and reliable. Now, seasoned and refined, she seems more reflective, perhaps a bit guarded. But she is well respected among her peers, her enemies, and most especially her friends.

History

Youthful Origins

If there is a theme to apply to the young Jessica, it would be of a proud woman who matured early, inheriting a weak image and changing it into something stronger, composed of more distinguished qualities, like fortitude, a positive morality, and a higher sense of duty to humanity.

Jessica Darlene Taggart was the daughter of the first Quarrel, Mack Taggart. She grew up in poverty in eastern Kentucky, living in a run-down house with her parents and several siblings (Mack, Toby, and Dickie). Often, the family's meals consisted of whatever the children were able to hunt or catch that day.

For a long time, Jessica believed her father was a mailman who spent a lot of time gone for work. He taught them to fight, to move acrobatically, and to shoot. It came as an incredible shock, then, when Jessica and her family discovered that Mack was a super-villain--a revelation that emerged when he was arrested alongside Cutlass and Steeljack when they attempted to rob the riverboat Princess after making away with two million dollars the month before.

In shock, Jessica hitchhiked to the prison where her father was held, but their conversation consisted mainly of excuses Mack made about what he had planned to do with the money on the family's behalf. Jessica returned home angry at her father, knowing he was never going to improve their situation--if anything were ever to change, it would have to be her doing it.

By the time Mack returned home from prison, Jessica had taken charge of the house and spent her time studying and training, eventually locating her father's equipment while he was in town. She tested it out, finding it easy to work with--but her father advised her against it, warning her that she would not want to be like him.


Early Years: Gaining Rep

Mack left home again, returning to his life of crime (and getting caught by Hummingbird), but Jessica found a backup set of the Quarrel equipment and learned how to modify it and employ it for new purposes. One evening, listening to the radio, Jessica heard about a standoff at the Martin County regional school spring dance, and she took off on her friend Mike Trapper's motorcycle to take down the armed robbers there.

Quarrel arrived in Astro City in 1984 at age 17, determining to make a name and life for herself despite having no money, no job, and no clue how to get either. She was surprised to discover that the city's residents already recognized her (some saying, "Quarrel's back!") but not treating her like the criminal her father was. (Quarrel would later find out this was a result of her later adventures time-traveling.)


An Angel of the Streets

Quarrel's first fight proper in the city was against the Steel Devil, taking them out and finding herself meeting the Street Angel, who expected her arrival--another result of her time-travel exploits. He was her mentor during those early years, helping her develop her skills and giving her a different direction to forge her identity. Their encounter with The Pale Horseman at the climax of the Dark Age story arc, resulted in the death of Street Angel, which left Jessica alone once more.

During this time, Quarrel formally registered as a bounty hunter so that she could make some money--for herself and for her family back home--while keeping her identity protected from the public, thanks to the 1963 Private Identities Act.


Earning Honor

In 1987, Quarrel managed to spy a set of robots belonging to the Ion Empire capture Samaritan and take him to one of their ships, where they had already imprisoned the other members of Honor Guard as part of a plot to transform humanity into machinic creatures. Quarrel overheard discussion of a "stasis lens" they were using, and she blew up the power supply for it, freeing Honor Guard.

After the fight was over, they thanked her for her assistance and invited her to join the team. At first, she refused out of monetary necessity, but the N-Forcer explained how N.R.-Gistics Inc. provided grants to those in need--so she accepted, and has remained a member since.


Her Time With The Omega Rangers

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In 1988, while fighting Chronarch, Quarrel found herself traveling through time to 1982, where she was involved in the founding of the Omega Rangers during a short, several-week period. While Quarrel was in 1982, she was a member of the team when Cleopatra's powers were bestowed to a new human vessel,[1] and again when the Omega Rangers joined forces with Honor Guard and the First Family to deal with a major event known as the Reality Rift. [2]


True Love

In 1994, Quarrel met Crackerjack for the first time, when he interrupted her tracking of the Techsperts. Together, they took out their foes and found themselves intensely attracted to one another. Soon, they started training, working, and sleeping together--although their personalities were both strong enough to clash regularly, too. However, they stayed together because they both shared the drive to push themselves (and one another) to their limits. Their relationship is long, complicated, and not what it would appear to be on the surface.

At one point, Quarrel thought she won $26 million in the Astro Cash lottery, although this turned out to be a scam perpetuated by Praetor as part of an effort to attack Honor Guard via members' secret identities. In the end, at least, she was able to keep the money.

Roughly a week after this scam, during a fight against the Unholy Alliance, Quarrel was distracted by thoughts of how she would use her newfound windfall. She mis-timed an attack against Glowworm, and Slamburger smacked her into the island component of an aircraft carrier, where she promptly sustained significant injuries to her hip and ankle.

While Honor Guard and their medical team advised Quarrel to rest and recuperate slowly, Crackerjack snuck into the team's headquarters to advise her that bedrest would cost her too much of her ability to ever fully recover from. Instead, he suggested she keep up her training and accelerate her healing through activity. The pair promptly began Quarrel's rehabilitation, where Crackerjack pushed her incessantly and relentlessly, until she snapped and ran out on him, telling him to "Go deliver some damn mail!" as she left--an outcry clearly reflective of her troubled relationship with her father rather than with her partner.


Need for Speed

At one point, Quarrel had broken up with Crackerjack and began dating fellow Honor Guard member MPH for some time, enjoying a radically different relationship than her usual fare. However, she soon discovered that her lifestyle and MPH's were incompatible; his superhuman speed allowed him to rest and relax, leaning on his abilities, while she had to continually train and keep herself at peak performance. Further, he offered advice on Quarrel's personal life, suggesting she reply to a two-year-old email her father had sent her. As a result, while MPH could plan for dates or make breakfast in bed or remember certain holidays (like birthdays) or invest time into their relationship, Quarrel simply could not allow herself the downtime. The two had a brief conversation, later (after defeating the Dark Savior), where Quarrel angrily explained her lack of energy for anything more than her career as a hero.

In 1998, Quarrel was tasked with returning escaped super-villain Steeljack to Biro Island via aircraft after he had traveled to Honor Guard headquarters with evidence involving El Hombre being involved in a devious plot. After unsuccessfully persuading Quarrel to listen to him by bringing up her father, Steeljack was able to break free from his restraints. While Quarrel used a vibratory magno-cannon to try and stop him in the confined quarters of the aircraft cabin, Steeljack overpowered her and tossed her--parachute and all--out of the craft and to safety just before he crashed it.


Growing Older

More recently, Quarrel and Crackerjack continued their superheroic activities despite their both likely closing in on fifty years of age. Over time, Quarrel's body mass and costume adjusted a bit to accommodate her changed body frame, and she found herself increasingly interested in improving her suit to compensate for her age and slowing performance.

After the retirement party for the Black Rapier at Butler's, Quarrel and Crackerjack fought the Chessmen and found their efforts a bit wanting--Crackerjack took a shot to the back, and Quarrel's extra armor on a new version of her suit kept her from being able to respond quickly enough to prevent the attack. While the pair were able to overcome their foes, they nonetheless were exhausted and injured from the exertion.

Quarrel and Crackerjack visited the main branch of N.R.-Gistics to see about improvements to her outfit (and potentially to develop something for Crackerjack, although he was far more interested in the Black Rapier's serum and its ability-enhancing secrets than anything technological).

Not long after this visit, Honor Guard fought and defeated Imperion and his Khyborg army, and Quarrel found herself further questioning her abilities--needing MPH's assistance to avoid serious injury. When she returned home afte rthe fight, she considered contacting her father, whose old email she had never replied to ... but never deleted, either.

While Quarrel pondered retiring, given her growing doubt about remaining in top shape, Crackerjack returned home injured from a fight with Demonhead. The two discussed their options, although Crackerjack refused to "quit" or limit himself to teaching or consultation work; while Quarrel considered high-tech solutions to compensate for her age, Crackerjack remained focused on the Black Rapier's serum.

That night, Crackerjack hacked Quarrel's laptop, snuck into the Black Rapier's home, and stole his remaining serum. He then made a deal with, and was betrayed by, Gormenghast, and Honor Guard managed to rescue him from the Black Lab where he had been left to die in a garbage dump.

While her partner healed, Quarrel tested out a new suit of armor developed by N.R.-Gistics--complete with dual launcher, gyroscopic compensators, muscle amplifiers, and email access--finding it wanting in many ways as it felt more like a device she was driving rather than a suit she was wearing.

She also finally decided to visit her father, who was living in the Allendale Assisted Living Facility for the Elderly and Infirm in West Virginia. The two had a productive conversation, beginning to heal at least some of the wounds that Jessica had carried for so long.

Recognizing the long road ahead of Crackerjack, Quarrel decided to focus all of her efforts on helping her partner rehabilitate, demanding from Crackerjack the same relentless training and therapy that he'd expected from her years before.

The new suit of enhanced armor developed for her would be stored at N.R.-Gistics, just in case she ever decided to return to action.

Equipment

She wears a costume similar in design and uses much of the same weaponry as her villainous father, the original Quarrel.

There is a Bolt-Blaster on her right wrist for firing projectiles. Two indentations on top for holding quarrels to fire, or as balance points for firing a single, larger projectile from the center of the apparatus.

She wears a suit of chain mail with a heavy chest-overlay.

Stirrup on her boots, the purpose might be decoration or something more?

A grappling device for aerial movement is attached to the right hip of her costume. It can also be fired from a projectile launcher for longer distances.[3]

Standard sized quarrels are stored in a compact case on her left hip. She also has a backpack used for larger and/or special mechanisms. The backpack holds a parachute.

Her basic set of quarrels and grappling devices were probably the extend of her father's original arsenal. Her association with the technical members of Honor Guard, especially N-Forcer, have no doubt resulted in a wider, more versatile and far more advanced set of projectile weapons and tools.

Projectile List

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Notes: Let's lay this out similar to Jack-in-Box's Weapons list

  • Acid quarrels
  • Anesthetic injection/knockout quarrels
  • Blunt tipped quarrels for attacks. It is similar to rubber bullet with the intent to incapacitate or damage targets on impact.
  • Net quarrel
  • Rocket propelled explosive quarrels

Upgrades

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N.R.Gistics, Inc. upgraded Quarrel's uniform with new age armor protection. Complete with a bio-interactive sensory-web to magnify and enhance her speed, strength and provide precision movement skills. It doesn't try to anticipate her movements, or improve her reaction time. Her own reflexes, slowed with age still are in complete control. Crackerjack calls it a "dressed up, tailored tank."

Observations

  • Casual peer commentary suggests that she is from a small town, somewhere in Kentucky.
  • A conundrum of sorts surrounds her brief time travel back to 1982. The citizens of Astro City, and perhaps the world are fully aware of her exploits with the Omega Rangers. But the younger and not yet time-traveling Jessica Taggart of 1984, who should also have known about it, is totally in the dark. A mystery to be solved in a later story perhaps.
  • According to Kurt Busiek, Quarrel is his favorite Astro City character.[4]

Speculations, Theories

  • Hints dropped many years ago in Local Heroes' letters pages by creator Kurt Busiek, indicate that there might be more to consider in their relationship than what the obvious surface aspects suggest. The four issue Quarrel-Crackerjack story arc published in 2015, expanded on that comment, revealing a very complex, passionate, sexual, highly emotional, almost toxic at times interplay between the two.
  • Quarrel's past reflects an attraction to male relationships that will disappoint at best, but mostly hurt.



Footnotes

  1. Astro City: The Dark Age Book Three #1.
  2. Astro City: The Dark Age Book Three #4.
  3. Kurt Busiek's Astro City Vol.1 #3. Page 23. Panel 2.
  4. http://busiek.com/site/2015/04/07/astro-city-mail-march-2015/
  5. Kurt Busiek's Astro City Vol.1 #5.