Comics Review – Alias by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos
Issues: #1 – 28
Books: Alias (self-titled), Come Home, The Underneath, The Secret Origins of Jessica Jones, Purple
I realise it’s another Bendis, but this is such a gem and mostly unknown.
It was one of the first Marvel MAX titles, and was one of Bendis first books for Marvel. It caught my attention with the very first word on the first page being “F**K!”
Jessica Jones is not your average Marvel character. She is former superhero turned private invesigator, and she has a filthy mouth. Her former identity was Jewel, and hung out with the Avengers before hanging up her tights for reasons not revealed until the final book.
The first book sets the dreary scene that is Jessica’s life – while throwing a client through a glass window after proving his wife had been cheating. The cops show up to interview her and up treating her like the bad guy for having super strength.
Jessica is hired to find a missing woman, and finds herself videotaping Captain America in his civilian alter ego as part of a conspiracy going all the way up to the White House. Her integrity is put to the test in this one. Luke Cage and her relationship with him features often throughout the books, and they’re dealt with in a much more mature (and realistic) way than most regular comics
She is hired to find a runaway girl from a small prejudiced town who is rumoured to be a mutant.
This was a real stand out arc for me. It ties in very much with Bendis’ Daredevil run as it features MGH, the new party drug called Mutant Growth Hormone. J. Jonah Jameson hires Jess to uncover Spider-Man’s identity, but later runs into a clearly strung out Spider-Woman III (Mattie Franklin) who has gone missing. It’s a very dark and grim book, but so good.
The Secret Origins of Jessica Jones
A two-part story of how Jessica came to be who she is. Turns out she was in the same school as Peter Parker, nerdy as he was, she finally plucked up the courage to ask him out whilst on a field trip, but then he went and ruined it by getting bitten by a radioactive spider!
Later it showed her as a teen driving cross-country with her parents and hugely annoying little brother on a family holiday. Her brother constantly looks for trouble until the Dad finally has enough and shouts at them, just long enough to take his eyes off the road and crash into a army truck carrying unknown materials. The car flies off the motorway and exploded in a ball of fire. Jessica is the only survivor. She was in a coma for a long while after this, and was woken up by one of Galactus’ Silver Age rampages through New York. Soon after she learned she had powers and very badly attempted to fly, nearly drowning in the Hudson as a result. She is pulled to rescue by Thor in front of a crowd of onlookers, and thanks him by spewing on his boots and swearing. A hero is born?
This book.. It’s hard to put into words as it’s so bloody dark and makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. This arc revolves around a bastard called Killgrave, or the Purple Man. A lesser known villain, but certainly frightening. His body releases pheromones which causes anyone around him to do whatever he wants. Luke Cage previously questioned her dark secret and asked “were you raped?” which just pissed her off. “Why do guys always think it has to have been rape?” she retorts. This arc shows what did happen.
Jessica as Jewel was flying about on patrol when she notices a crowd fleeing a restaurant. She swoops in ready to kick some booty and comes face to face with Kilgrave. She tells Luke how you have no will of your own around Killgrave, and that he took her around with him as a pet. He never touched her, she said, but he makes you want it more than anything and then denies you it. He would walk into any hotel and take the penthouse, making her watch as he had his way with scores of women. Luke asked her how long she was under his spell.
“Eight months” she tells him.
F********k. I just about died reading that, and Gaydos’ art does so well with expressions. Another cool thing about this arc is that Mark Bagley does the flashbacks. His style (as seen in Ultimate Spidey) fits the superhero stories while Gaydos does the dirty noir so well.
The following is copied straight from Wikipedia, so sue me
In the midst of a temper tantrum, the Purple Man sent Jones to kill Daredevil, erroneously directing her to the Avengers Mansion. Since Daredevil is not an Avenger, Jones attacked the first hero she saw there in a red costume — the Scarlet Witch. The mind-control began to wear off and Jones attempted to flee, but she was caught and received a severe beating at the hands of the Vision (the Scarlet Witch’s then-husband), and Iron Man. She escaped death due to the intervention of the only Avenger who actually knew her, Carol Danvers, who took her to safety.
Jones remained in a coma for months, under the care of S.H.I.E.L.D., while also undergoing psychic therapy with Jean Grey of the X-Men. In addition to assisting her emergence from the coma, Grey placed a special mental command in Jones’ subconscious that would protect her from further mind control. During this time Jones developed a doomed romantic relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Clay Quartermain, who would prove to be a valuable friend and contact for her later in life.
The intensely violating nature of her experience with Killgrave, combined with the fact that no one noticed she had been missing for eight months, forced a demoralized Jones to give up being a costumed superhero.
What an amazing series, and as I said, mostly unknown