Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 4 by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This one collects the final issues of Marvel’s MAX version of Jessica Jones adventures and while I’m sad it didn’t last longer I also realize that all good things must come to an end. Or in superhero comic books it’s more accurate to say that one good version of the title has to come to an end and then start up again in another version.
Brian Michael Bendis saved the best for last in which he concludes the character arc for Jessica as well as giving us her origin story via flashbacks, and we also learn what was behind her decision to turn away from being a costumed superhero and drove her self-destructive behavior. It’s a remarkably deft piece of storytelling that manages to mix in bits of Marvel history like Jessica going to high school with Peter Parker with the raw and gritty portrayal of a hard-drinking self-loathing private detective. I also loved how the art was done in this with the flashbacks to Jessica’s superhero days done in the bright clean style of a more typical Marvel book back in the day which contrasts with the darker grittier tone of a MAX comic with plenty of profanity and sex.
We get the revelation of Zebediah Killgrave a/k/a The Purple Man as the main cause of Jessica’s pain. One of the most impressive things that Bendis has ever done is to take a B-list minor supervillain and turn him into one of the most dangerous and repulsive Marvel bad guys I’ve ever read without any major retconning. By digging into the full scope of what mind control powers could be used to do by a complete sociopath we get a chilling portrait of pure evil.
Bendis also does a nice bit of metafiction here with Killgrave taunting Jessica with the idea that she’s a character in a comic book. That also works with the other tricks like changing the art styles to put a sly level of self-awareness and commentary about the whole thing.
Overall, Alias was a great title that blended the realistic adult themes of the modern PI genre with Marvel characters and history to give us a fresh perspective on that universe as well as an intriguing character story.
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