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Alias #15

Posted: Monday, October 7, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Jessica acting as Matt Murdock's bodyguard, in an effort to shield him from the media & other vultures who seek an audience with him after the story of his being Daredevil hit the airwaves. However Jessica is less than thrilled by the idea that her partner for this assignment is Luke Cage, thanks to her rather embarrassing encounter with him in the opening arc, but we see the two are able to hash out their differences, and Jessica discovers that her reasons for being mad at him are easily dealt with. We then follow Jessica as she heads out for the blind date that Carol set up for her with Scott Lang (aka. the second Ant-Man). The dinner date gets off to a rocky start when Scott asks her not to indulge in alcohol as he's been warned about her inability to control herself when drunk, or the amount of alcohol she consumes. We then see Jessica counters by bringing up the idea that Scott Lang served time in jail, but we see that the two are able to come to an understanding, and we soon see that they actually get along quite nicely. While their dinner date is momentarily interrupted by a passing costumed slugfest, we see they both decide to enjoy the rest of their date, rather than play super-hero.

Comments:
I've been rather looking forward to this issue (at least the latter half of the book), as with Brian Michael Bendis' dialogue skills the first date between Jessica & Scott Lang promised to be an interesting reading. Now truth be told I don't really know all that much about Scott Lang, even though he's been a regular guest-hero in a couple of my staple titles (Fantastic Four, Avengers), but then again if Jessica had hooked up with a character I'm more familiar with, I do believe I'd have had expectations set up beforehand, and I wouldn't have enjoyed the back & forth banter that nicely revealed more about each character. There's also the wonderful awkward moments to spice up their date, like when Scott asks for a no-alcohol date as he's been warned about her inability to hold her liquor, or the scene where Jessica reveals that she ran a background check on him before this dinner date, and asks him about his stint in prison. This conversation made the second half of this issue just breeze by, and when the final page arrived I was sorry to see it end. Brian Michael Bendis also amusingly adds the timeworn element of the super villain attack interrupting the date, but their reaction to this event is what made this scene work.

As for the opening half of this book, I must admit I had forgotten that Jessica was mad at Luke Cage, and while part of this can be blamed on my poor retention skills, now that I'm reminded of this scene I do have to wonder why she was mad at him. I mean this opening sequence does seem to exist solely for Luke Cage to point out that Jessica has no reason to be mad, and one does have to wonder why she needed him to make these rather obvious arguments. However the conversation did produce a cute exchange about She-Hulk, as well as a fun bit regarding his relationship with Iron Fist. In fact, it is rather opportune to see that this tension has been pretty much resolved, as my recent visits to the quarter bins have started to unearth old issues of "Power Man & Iron Fist" and as such I've starting to see that there's a bit more to the character than the super-tough goon that I had dismissed him as before. It would be nice to see this book become home to several displaced characters (e.g. Jessica Drew), and Luke Cage is a nice fit in Jessica's world, though given the way 80's properties are being brought back lately, I fully expect to see Luke Cage back in a monthly title in the near future.

Michael Gaydos turns in some nice work on this issue, as his panel layouts do seem to lend themselves quite nicely to Brian Michael Bendis' machine gun style back & forth banter. Now his art isn't the most expressive work out there, but he does have a half-dozen expressions that he has firm grasp on, and Jessica's reaction to certain comments (e.g. Luke Cage's questions about becoming his girlfriend/wife), are perfectly handled. The art also does a nice job capturing the awkwardness of the opening moments of Jessica's date with Scott Lang, as the tentative quality they both bring to the table is nicely capture in the body language, and one has to smile at Scott frozen pose as he explains why he doesn't want her to drink. There's also a very nice one-page shot of the two as they make their connection, and the second to last page as the two decide whether they should chase after the passing costume battle was rather amusing. The shot of the passing battle was also pretty nice, as one look at that page tells a complete story. Before I go I should also make mention of the cover as while I normally take issue with the idea that David Mack's covers have next to nothing to do with the story inside, this month's cover image is still a very lovely piece of art.

Final Word:
It's become clear that Brian Michael Bendis has figured out his greatest strength as a writer rests in his ability to deliver engaging back and forth exchanges among his characters, as on this book especially he seems quite content to deliver entire issues devoted to these aforementioned conversations. However, when the issue proves to be as enjoyable as this one ended up being, it's difficult to get too concerned by the lack of any real plot. Plus, the two conversations that make up this issue have been nicely set up in the earlier issues, with the Luke Cage situation creating the early buzz for this book, while the Scott Lang blind date has been something that I've been rather looking forward to, thanks largely to the idea that Brian Michael Bendis would be the one writing it. This book isn't for everyone, but I imagine if you've liked what you've seen up to this point, you'll find this issue to be quite enjoyable.



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