Current Reviews


Alias #13

Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Michael Gaydos & David Mack

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The book opens with Jessica trying to understand why the town's preacher is displaying such a hostile attitude regarding the existence of mutants, and we see Jessica suspects that this man's anti-mutant sermons convinced one of the townspeople to make Rebecca Cross disappear, as the young woman was believed to be a mutant. We then follow Jessica as she brushes off the town's sole police officer, as she found his decision to throw her in jail when she was highly inebriated insulting. After she learns that Carol Danvers (aka. Warbird) has given Scott Lang (aka. Ant-Man) her phone number, we see Jessica moves on to visit the reporter that she brushed off the day before. During this conversation Jessica learns that the reporter seriously doubts that Rebecca was a mutant, and she also rejects the idea that Rebecca would've told anyone that she was. Faced with a town full of suspects, and no real leads to speak of we see Jessica decides that a second visit with the girl's father might be helpful. However upon arriving at the man's home, Jessica finds someone has buried a knife in the man's chest.

This issue is yet another issue where Brian Michael Bendis seemed to be content in going over ground that has already be covered rather than actually delivering material that would advance the plot, as like last month's chapter this issue seems to be spinning its wheels up until the final few pages. Now yes we do get the likely motivation that drove the person responsible for Rebecca's disappearance, though the last few pages pokes some holes in this theory, as the only person likely to have committed this murder is likely to have been Rebecca herself. However, five pages devoted to establishing the town preacher is a hate monger, four pages devoted to Jessica dealing with her disastrous romantic liaison with the town's police officer & a whopping seven pages where Jessica trades notes with the town's reporter, and you are left with an issue that devotes five pages to plot advancement. Now Brian Michael Bendis' dialogue skills do make for an entertaining read, and the last three pages offer up a fairly unexpected twist, but I do find myself growing a bit impatient with this book's deliberate pace.

While it doesn't do much for the plot, this issue does develop Jessica as a character a bit more, as we see her debate the issue of mutants with the town's preacher, before she moves on to have a conversation with her own inner demons, that Brian Michael Bendis also manages to offer up as his response to the readers who want him to inject some sex into this title. This issue also offers up a great little scene where Jessica has a two page phone conversation with Scott Lang (aka. Ant-Man), and I must confess that based on this scene I hope that Brian Michael Bendis has an issue lined up that he can devote solely to their first date, as twenty-one pages of dialogue like that sounds like a fantastic issue. Also while it doesn't advance the plot any, there is something to be said for the idea that there's a seven page sequence in this book where two characters do little more than discuss the plot thus far, and yet I found that my interest was completely invested in this material. In the end this issue is yet another showcase for Brian Michael Bendis' ability to craft dialogue exchanges that can last for pages and yet never lose the reader's interest.

Michael Gaydos is stuck with the rather thankless task of providing the art on a book where there's very little action, and most of the time is devoted to talking heads sequences. Now he does have one element in his corner and that it that this book does place it's lead character into situations where the art needs to convey a sense of danger, and Michael Gaydos has proven himself to be quite good at delivering the scenes where the very shadows seem to suggest hidden threats. His work also does a pretty nice job keeping the talking heads scene from becoming dull, though the tricks that he uses are starting to feel a bit too familiar, as the slow close-up on the character's faces, and the pages where the same panel is repeated multiple times are beginning to lose their luster. His work does has a nice way of ending on a panel that seems to be designed solely to make one turn to the next page, with the look of surprise on Jessica's face when she enters the father's house being an effective example of this ability. The final couple pages also have a nice morbid look to them, with the close-up panel of the murder victim being particularly disturbing.

Final Word:
Like the previous issue it's the last few pages of the issue that actually offer up the plot advancement, while the rest of the issue is a fairly enjoyable, if unproductive examination of the evidence that Jessica's managed to piece together thus far. Now the final sequence does cast some doubt on the idea that the young girl was targeted because she was believed to be a mutant. One might even get the idea that she simply ran away, and that she may of played a role in the murder of her father. In any event, Brian Michael Bendis does deserve credit for keeping the playing field so open, even if he's accomplished it by offering rather nebulous clues about why the girl went missing, that could very well end up being red herrings. In the end this issue is a good example of Brian Michael Bendis' dialogue skills as up until the final couple pages the various conversations Jessica has with others are all the reader really receives.

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