Current Reviews


Alias #16

Posted: Wednesday, November 6, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The book opens with Jessica at the local corner store, when an armed thug stores into the place demanding the clerk hand over the cash. After deciding to use her rusty super-hero abilities to foil this crime, we see Jessica is reminded of why she quit the hero game, as the clerk was ready to filled the downed thief full of lead, until Jessica reinforced the idea that this would be a bad idea. We then follow a dejected Jessica as she arrives home, where she discovers there's someone waiting for her in the darkened apartment. However, when the late night intruder ends up being a highly confused Mattie Franklin (aka the third Spider-Woman), we see Jessica is left speechless as the young hero smashes her way out of the window, and flees into the night. We then join Jessica a bit later, as we learn she called Scott Lang, and we see this late night meeting results in an invite for Jessica to stay over at Scott's place, as she doesn't exactly feel safe in her own apartment. We then join Jessica even later that night as she makes contact with a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent she knows, to get the information she needs about her late night visitor. This in turn leads to pay a visit to Mattie's uncle, J. Jonah Jameson.

This issue has Brian Michael Bendis picking up a story element that I must confess I had completely forgotten about, as Mattie Franklin (the third Spider-Woman) emerges from comic limbo, and it would appear she's going to play a big role in Jessica's latest adventure. Now I'm not exactly enamored with the character of Mattie Franklin as I'm the not so proud owner of all eighteen issues of her monthly title, and the only thing that that series managed to impress upon me is how far the mighty John Byrne had fallen, and that Bart Sears delivered some truly sub-par work on that title. However, Brian Michael Bendis might be able to make Mattie Franklin work, as there were elements to the character that I found interesting, that her monthly series never managed to tap, with her ties to J. Jonah Jameson being the most notable example. Plus, given the done-in-one issue where Jessica managed to royally screw Jonah out of thousands of dollars, it should be interesting to see these two working together again. I can also see how this story might allow Brian Michael Bendis to show us another side of Jonah, as there's precious few stories in the character's history where we received a look at the character's personal life outside the Daily Bugle environment

This issue also continues to develop the relationship between Jessica and Scott Lang, as we see Jessica places her first late-night call to her new beau, after she is surprised in her apartment by a highly confused Mattie Franklin. On one hand it's nice to see a steady boyfriend figure in this title, as the idea of Jessica getting drunk, and sleeping with the first man to look her way was a character flaw that was getting old rather quickly. Now, just because Scott Lang's on the scene doesn't automatically curtail this behavior, but if it does occur, at least she has a more compelling reason to beat herself up over her behavior the next morning. This issue also introduces us to one of Jessica's contacts, as we see her call up a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to get some information on the young woman who broke into her apartment. While we never get to see who's on the other end of the phone, the conversation does give us a pretty good clue about the type of person Jessica is dealing with, and Brian Michael Bendis has a lot of fun with the big brother paranoia that S.H.I.E.L.D. can bring to the table. Plus, it's also nice to see that Jessica does have contacts, beyond her friendship with Carol Danvers.

Michael Gaydos turns in another pretty impressive issue. The opening sequence where Jessica finds herself playing hero, as Jessica foils an armed robbery of a convenience store was a fun little display of action, and one has to love the expression of her face after she completely misses the criminal with her attack. This amusing scene then takes a fairly serious turn as we see the clerk goes nuts, and the art does a pretty nice job of delivering this sudden mood shift. The scene where Jessica returns home to find someone waiting for her is well captured by the art, as Michael Gaydos conveys the sense of growing danger quite nicely as we see the bathroom door begins to open. The art also nicely presents the idea that Mattie Franklin is in a bad way, as we see the young hero bounce off a building in a rather clumsy fashion. There's also some nice work on the follow-up scene in the parking garage, as we see Jessica pays J. Jonah Jameson a visit, and the art does a great job on the closing shot, as we see Jameson's expression shifts from his usual blowhard expression, to one where it's clear he's deeply concerned about Mattie. Once again though I do have to wonder if David Mack has access to the script his covers are suppose to be detailing.

Final Word:
I was debating whether I would reveal the identity of Jessica's late night intruder, but I figured that the latest version of Spider-Woman is hardly a guest-star that I would consider a shocking surprise, and I might as well give her fans a heads up about her appearance in this issue. Plus, given a previous issue did a nice job of making Jessica an enemy of J. Jonah Jameson, I thought it would take far too much effort to discuss why I was excited by this character's appearance in this issue, without revealing her identity, and in the end preserving the surprise factor simply wasn't worth the effort. Now I'll admit I'm curious about Mattie's visit to Jessica's apartment, though given the first Spider-Woman is a private investigator, who also sports the first name Jessica, I have a pretty good idea why Mattie made this mistake. The bigger mystery of course is what's wrong with Mattie, and since finding the answer to this question has Jessica teaming up with Jameson, I have to admit this story certainly looks promising.

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