Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol. 3 by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The thing about being a Marvel fan is that I’ve been reading their comics off-and-on since I was a kid in the ‘70s, usually see their movies in the theaters a couple of times each, and watch all their TV shows. (Not just the Netflix ones either. I’m talking both Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter.) Yet there can still be a moment while I’m reading one of their books that I'll scratch my head and wonder who the hell Mattie Franklin is and when exactly was there a third Spider-Woman? *sigh* Well, that’s what Wikipedia is for.
Everyone’s favorite ex-superhero turned private detective crosses paths with superhero hatin’ newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson. At first he tries to hire Jessica to find out Spider-Man’s secret identity and after that doesn’t work out like he wants JJJ is mightily pissed at JJ. That complicates matter when Jessica later discovers that Jameson’s adopted daughter, Mattie, is a minor superhero and in terrible trouble. On the personal front Jessica is still dating Scott Lang (a/k/a Ant-Man), but her secrets and his hesitation about her particular brand of crazy may trainwreck the relationship before it really has a chance to get started.
Alias continues to stand out as being a part of the Marvel universe, but also apart from it. Jessica keeps getting sucked into superhero business despite her best efforts to stay away from cases involving people in tights, and her position on the fringes gives us a new angle to look at all of stories that usually fall through the cracks. It’s also one of the most mature comics I’ve seen from Marvel with sex, profanity, and adult themes with subjects like drug abuse and rape dealt with directly and far more frankly than you’d ever see in of most of their titles.
I particularly liked the first issue in which the entire story of JJJ hiring Jessica and what happens afterwards is told in a unique way. A couple of larger panels are on each page and instead of dialogue balloons or captions the dialogue is in a type face font placed at the edges. This gives you a vibe that you’re looking at photos and a transcripts of conversations so it’s like you’re reading a case file. It’s one of the most clever and offbeat playing with the typical comic book format that I’ve seen.
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