Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mike Gaydos & Mark Bagley
Jessica reveals to Luke Cage her history with the Purple Man and why it is she quit the superhero life.
After two years, we finally find out what drove Jessica Jones into the private inspector business. It fits that she pours her heart out to Luke Cage given that heís the first Marvel character she had an interaction with in the series. This time out, though, we see the softer side to Luke as his concern for Jessica reveals much deeper feelings than previously shown. Many online critics and fans have taken Bendis to task for his portrayal of Luke, but I have to admit I was touched when he reached out to Jessica. Itís not every day that two people sitting on a couch and talking can hold my attention, but in this case it worked.
The genius behind this issue can be found in the characterization of the Purple Man. Heís not your typical villain in that he doesnít want global domination or to kill the Avengers but rather heís street level bad guy thatís only out for a good time. What makes him evil is the lengths heíll go to satisfy his desires and given that nothing is really denied him those desires have gotten perverse. He wants everything to be handed to him, whether it be a steak at a nice restaurant, two men to fight for his entertainment, or a pet superhero for his amusement.
This guyís main goal is to humiliate Jessica, and I was afraid that would lead to rape, a subject that has been overdone in comics because most male writers canít seem to think of a better way to traumatize their female characters. Instead of that, Bendis gives us something just as bad; the complete loss of free will coupled with the knowledge of that loss. The lengths the Purple Man will go to degrade Jessica are appalling in not only their intentions, but also in the idea that someone like this could actually exist. It wasnít so long ago that a man named David Koresh talked his followers into believing that he was Jesus, and the Purple Man takes that kind of charisma to a whole new level.
Of course, this story wouldnít have worked near as well without both Gaydos and Bagley. The former illustrates all of the pages of modern day Jessica and the latter handles her flashbacks, and the contrast is striking. Bagleyís cleaner lines and more cartoonish figures belie the sinister aspects of the story while Gaydosís rougher edges and somewhat uglier people show us the results of this trauma. Jessica couldnít help but change after her encounter with the Purple Man, and the two artists do their best to spell that out for us.
Iíd be remiss if I didnít say I appreciated Bagley drawing the World Trade Center in the background of the last page. I was one of the people that didnít think it shouldíve been removed from all those movies two years ago so I was glad he didnít shy away from them in this case.
Since this is another in a long line of great Alias issues, Iím rather disappointed that the series will end with issue #28. I canít really recommend this to new readers because of that, but those of you that have been there since the beginning will find that this may be the best issue to date.
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