Alias #10

Background

Meet Jessica Jones, former costumed super hero, now a private investigator. Creation of Brian Michael Bendis, Jessica appeared in Alias for 28 wonderful issues, then starred as an assistant reporter for the Daily Bugle in Pulse, before now becoming part of the backup cast for New Avengers. She's married to Luke Cage, and they have a child together.

The "Alias" series was part of the "MAX Comics" label by Marvel, which means it's full of grown-up stuff. Not really grown-up, no serious nudity, but there's a far bit of violence, sexual references, adult situations, and lots of strong language (F*%# is spelt in full and used frequently). Alias is sheer brilliance, as it follows Jessica through some weird but fascinating cases.

Jessica herself has some super-powers, though she doesn't like to make a big deal of it. Several super-powered characters make appearance, including Luke Cage of course, and Jessica's friend Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel. Daredevil appears quite a bit too. Several of the cases Jessica takes on are super-power related, but not all of them are.

Story Details

  Alias #10
Summary: Spider-Man Cameo

J. Jonah Jameson calls Jessica into the Daily Bugle offices. He also calls in Robbie Robertson and Ben Urich, and makes the pitch. Well, first up he spends some time insulting Jessica (a) because she's a private investigator, and (b) because she's a former super-hero. Then he makes the real pitch.

Jonah wants to pay Jessica to find out Spider-Man's secret identity. Jessica doesn't like JJJ, and she's kind of on the side of the super-heroes, but surprisingly she takes on the job. For the next few weeks she charges Jonah $200 an hour as she follows the trail. Based on tips given to her, she works volunteer in an orphanage, then a hospital, and a homeless shelter. She claims food and gifts for unfortunates as expenses, saying that she's building up a network of informants.

Of course, really she's just pulling JJJ's chain. In the end, he twigs, and yells at Ben Urich for not spotting it sooner. Jonah tell's Ben he's gonna sue Jessica to get the money back. Of course, Ben points out that the rival papers would really love that story - "Jonah sues investigator for working in orphanages." So Jonah settles for leaving Jessica a nasty message on her answering machine. A very rude one.

General Comments

This whole story is told in an unusual format. It doesn't use speech balloons. Instead, the story script is printed in side-boxes in "stage play script" format, with a background collage of mixed-media art. It's the kind of thing that Daredevil (Vol. 2) did for a while, quite successfully.

There's not a lot of writers who can carry off the "weird" stuff. Quesada and Mack did great on the DD run, and Bendis is quite capable of pulling the same sort of trick and making it feel totally natural.

Spider-Man appears as background art on one page. There's ya cameo. Of course, the whole story is "about" Spider-Man, but he doesn't get a line of dialog.

Overall Rating

Bendis is a master of his craft. This is a brilliant idea for a story, and Bendis is a brilliant story-teller. Four and a half webs. If you're not reading Alias then... you really should be! Pick it up in TPB off Amazon and just read it, OK?