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Alias #20

Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Jessica Jones getting blasted by Jessica Drew (aka the first Spider-Woman), who is operating under the mistaken impression that Jones had something to do with Mattie Franklin's disappearance. However we see the two women soon come to an understanding that they are on the same side, and to this end we see both women head off to a meeting with J. Jonah Jameson. After they have a fairly revealing conversation with Marla Jameson, where they learn how Mattie managed to slip through the cracks, we see the two detectives agree to work together to rescue Mattie from her drug dealing boyfriend. As they pool their resources we see they managed to locate the boyfriend's apartment, but when the place turns out to be empty we see they come to the conclusion that they need to find Mattie right away, as it would appear her boyfriend is aware people are looking for Mattie, and he could very well kill her to ease the pressure. After his credit card report reveals that he's checked into a hotel, we see the two Jessicas descend on his room, where they find Speedball from the New Warriors has already arrived before them, but his attempted rescue of Mattie isn't going nearly as well as one would hope.

Comments:
This issue has Jessica Jones teaming up with Jessica Drew (aka the original Spider-Woman), and I have to say that this pairing actually works remarkably well, as both women are so similar to each other, that they almost come across as long time friends. They are both former costumed heroes who are currently disillusioned with the lifestyle, and both have taken to an occupation that is about as close as one can come to being a super-hero without actually donning a costume. In fact this issue provided such an engaging read that I'd love to see Jessica Drew become a regular part of this book, as she does make Jessica Jones a better character. Now I can understand why Brian Michael Bendis might be reluctant, as there is a danger that if she was added to the cast, the simple fact that she has roughly two decades of past continuity would automatically make Jessica Drew the top dog in the eyes of the fans, and as such Jessica Jones might end up as a secondary character in her own book. In any event this was an engaging pairing, and my fingers are crossed for her sticking around at least for another arc. This issue also offers up a wonderful exchange that acts to make J. Jonah Jameson into a highly sympathetic character (yes you read that right).

I was debating whether I should go about discussing the guest-appearance by Speedball in the final pages of this issue, as his arrival in this story was a pleasant surprise, and I didn't want to ruin it for any readers. However, then I went and reminded myself of the puzzled reaction I get from every other comic fan whenever I listed Speedball among my favorite heroes, and I figured I was part of a very select group who actually like this character, and my fellow Speedball connoisseurs would need a heads up about this appearance, as this is probably the last place one would expect to find the character. Now his appearance would seem to suggest that Speedball was in some way involved with Mattie's situation, as I doubt he has access to the information resources that the two Jessicas used to locate the hotel room where Mattie is being held, so one has to assume he's more directly involved in this case. I do hope that Brian Michael Bendis doesn't have the character involved in behavior that's outright horrid, because as I said, I am a fan of the character, and I wouldn't like to see Speedball turned into some kind of deviant just because Brian Michael Bendis believed he's low enough on the popularity totem pull that no one will care what is done to him.

Michael Gaydos continues to prove himself the ideal fit for this book, as his art does such a great job of capturing general mood of the material. Take the opening encounter between Jessica Jones & Jessica Drew, as one can actually see the pain on Jones' face as the bio-electrical blasts tear into her, and one also has to love the series of panels where Drew checks her answering machine, and discovers the woman she's fighting is not her enemy. The art also does some solid work on the talking heads scenes, as while there are times when I wise the art displayed a little more variety in its facial expressions, the similar looking panels do change enough that the material is kept visually interesting, as we move in closer as the ideas being expressed by a character become more important. There's also a cute little scene where the two Jessicas locate the apartment room of their suspect by phoning his room, and the art also does some nice work showing us these two women looking over the room, before they come to the conclusion that nobody is home, nor are they likely to be returning anytime soon. I also have to credit the art for making Speedball's appearance into something special, as that last page does a wonderful job capturing the visual appeal of his power.

Final Word:
A pretty entertaining issue that nicely benefits from the idea that Jessica Drew is an interesting character, and her interaction with our regular lead is highly engaging. Now I'm sure fans of the character will draw more from this issue, as while I'm aware of all the basic plot elements, such as why Jessica Drew would have reason to dislike the Avengers, I have lost track of the character for the better part of the past decade, so the "out of sight, out of mind" element does somewhat dampen my excitement over this character's return to the Marvel Universe. Still the interaction between these two similar characters resulted in a fairly enjoyable issue, as they discuss their various investigation methods. I also have the give this book full marks for the scene where Marla Jameson discusses her husband and his vendetta against costumed heroes. This is a great character moment for Jonah, and this year has been a particularly impressive year for the character. Plus, a guest-appearance by Speedball is always going to grab my attention.



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