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Alias #24

Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Jessica being called to the offices of Matt Murdock, who has produced a client looking to hire her services. However, when she discovers her potential client is Ka-Zar, and he wants her to travel to the Savage Land to help him locate his missing sabretooth, we see Jessica can't say no fast enough. We then see her make her way home where she finds a message waiting on her service from a woman looking for information about man named Killgrave (aka. the Purple Man). However, from Jessica's extremely agitated reaction to this call we soon learn that she has a serious problem with the Purple Man, and that it is likely related to the mysterious event that made her quit the super-hero game. We then follow Jessica as she pays a visit to the Avengers Mansion to give Carol Danvers (aka. Warbird) an earful about sending this woman her way, as Carol knew about Jessica's past with the Purple Man, and she doesn't appreciate Carol's attempt to help her get over this traumatic event. However, after she settles down Jessica starts to see the wisdom behind Carol's actions, and she looks in on the woman who made the call, who turns out to be part of a much larger group looking to reopen the investigation of the role that Killgrave played in the deaths of their loved ones, which Killgrave cruelly refuses to admit to have carried out.

Comments:
I might be getting a bit ahead of myself here as clearly Brian Michael Bendis believes there is not only a story to be told, but also a role for Jessica to play. However I have to make mention of the idea that based on the information we received I don't really see much that Jessica can do for these people. I guess she could go question the survivors (the cook & the dishwashers), but then again one would imagine the original investigators would've have already done this, and as such if a case wasn't made against Killgrave at that time then it's doubtful they were able to provide any useful information. Another avenue would be to visit Killgrave in jail, but her clients have not only discovered that it's highly unlikely Killgrave would be allowed to receive any visitors, but nor would he be likely to offer her the answers that he derived so much pleasure in keeping from her clients. I also have to question the manner in which the people were killed, as while I'm sure he could have made them stop breathing, the minute they passed out wouldn't the lack of conscious thought free them from his control, and automated body responses take over? Now perhaps his power is able to control others whether they are conscious or not, but the fairly detailed description that Jessica provides of how his power works would seem to suggest otherwise.

Before I go on discussing the other aspect of the book that I feel is worth going over, I want to make mention of the highly amusing, though completely unrelated opening sequence, where Brian Michael Bendis teases the reader, as it sounds like he's all set to send Jessica off on a rousing adventure in the Savage Land, before Jessica makes it clear she is not about to play ball. It's a very funny opening, and a cute way of reaffirming the idea that Jessica does not actively seek out danger. This issue also seems to suggest that the Purple Man played a big role in why Jessica decided to get out of the hero game, and given Killgrave's power, and the self loathing behavior that Jessica engages in when she gets drunk, I can't help but get the sense that I'm not sure if I really want to know what drove her to quit the hero game. This opening chapter also makes it clear that Jessica actively dislikes being around the Avengers, so one can assume the big moment played out with them as witnesses. We also see Scott Lang has gone over Jessica's file & as such he's aware of what happened to her, and that Jessica isn't exactly pleased to learn that he's been let in on her secret. On a seemingly related note concerning Scott Lang, there's also an interesting scene up on the roof after she flees the cab that would seem to suggest she's keeping something rather important from Scott.

I do have to say that Ka-Zar looks like Jessica with her hair dyed blonde, and this was a bit unsettling. I would've also have liked to see a little more variety in his expressions during this opening scene. In fact, I was left with the sense that Michael Gaydos simply repeated the same two panels, as one has Ka-Zar looking straight at the reader, while the other has his head turned to his right. The fact that the line work gets thicker when the art move in closer has me convinced of this fact. Still, I guess the lack of motion in his panels, and the repetitive panel designs are a preferred style that Michael Gaydos employs, and I can't deny that he tells the material is a highly effective manner. Jessica has a nice world weary look to her, and the panic overcomes her when she pays a visit to the Avengers Mansion is very nicely handled. I also enjoyed the scene where Scott Lang makes his sudden appearance in the cab, as it's almost a comedic moment. However the real highlight of the issue would have to be the double-page shot on the roof, as not only is it an impressive looking bit of work, but it also offers up a fairly major revelation without the use of any text. There's also a nice crowd scene in this issue, as Jessica meets with her clients, and there a nice array of faces & body types.

Final Word:
The book opens with a very amusing little scene where Jessica flatly refuses to become entangled in a Silver Age style plot, and I have to say that the opening four pages of this issue rates as the single most enjoyable sequence that Brian Michael Bendis has offered up thus far on this book. As for the rest of the issue, I have to say this it is nice to see the mystery of why Jessica quit the super-hero game looks to be the central focus of this latest arc, and based on this first issue it would appear that the Purple Man was largely responsible for whatever event drove her away. On the other hand I also have to say that I don't really see much potential in the plot as it stands, as basically Jessica has been hired by a group of people to make the Purple Man admit to an involvement in a crime that they know he was involved in. Frankly, I don't see much for Jessica to do for them, or even why they feel the need for her to get involved, considering the Purple Man is supposed locked away for the rest of his natural life.



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