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Alias #26

Posted: Friday, September 5, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Michael Gaydos, Mark Bagley, Art Thibert and Rick Mays

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Jessica continuing her story of why she quit the super-hero game, as we see her attack on the Scarlet Witch served to get the Avengers in a very foul mood and they make very quick work of her, with the Vision delivering a particularly devastating attack that puts Jessica in a coma. We then see that Jessica is placed in the care of S.H.I.E.L.D., who bring in Jean Grey in an effort to wake up the comatose Jessica, and we see Jean is able to pull Jessica out of the dream world she had sought safety within, where she emerges back into the real world in very rough shape. After months of rehab to recover from her injuries, we see Jessica is visited by the Avengers who have arrived to express their deepest regrets for their abrupt reaction, as well as the severity of their response. However, when Nick Fury steps in to offer up a position within his organization in which Jessica would act as the liaison between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers, we see Jessica decides enough is enough, and she comes right out to announce her intention to hang up her costume forever. We then return to the present where we see that she has kept to her word, and as of this moment Luke Cage is the only one she's freely told this story to. We then follow Jessica as she attempts to seek closure by visiting the Purple Man in prison.

Comments:
A perfectly serviceable explanation for why Jessica Jones decided to quit the super-hero game but given the two years of buildup to arrive at this moment I have to say I found it a bit disappointing. I mean basically the issue has Jessica taking a right good pounding from the Avengers, and after she recovers from her rather extensive injuries she decides that she's had enough. Now as I said I don't have a problem with this explanation, as it makes sense given Brian Michael Bendis never really established a strong motivation for why Jessica became a super-hero beyond the discovery that the accident that killed her family gave her superpowers. In fact, the explanation this issue provides reminds me a bit of a street performer act I saw recently where a man places a mouse in one end of a tube, and then calls for a volunteer from the audience, as he needs their help to perform a wondrous trick. He then places the other end of the tube against the volunteer's ears and blows through the tube. Now naturally the audience expects the mouse to vanish, so when the volunteer gets hit in the ear by the mouse they aren't overly impressed. However, I also must confess that I found the trick somewhat clever in that it's entirely dependent on the audience's belief that they are about to see something impressive, and there is something appealing about a creative moment that able to tap into this sense of anticipation without delivering the expected reward in the end.

There's also several fun little moments in this issue, as I rather enjoyed Luke Cage's little moment as he momentarily drops his understanding friend act to express his admiration that Jessica would be able to take a direct hit from Thor's hammer, and live to tell the tale. I've always felt that super-heroes sit around from time to time to engage in fanboyish style conversations like who's stronger than whom, or who would win in a race between hero A and hero B, and this little moment serves to confirm my theory that it does happen. The issue also offers up a fairly solid reminder that these mindless slugfests can be rather hard on the body, as this issue gives us a pretty good look at the amount of damage that the Vision can do when he delivers one of his density enhanced right hooks. I also enjoyed the way this issue made use of Jean Grey, as we get a look inside Jessica's mind and Jean's ability to offer up insight into what she sees without directly commenting on it is nicely captured. Finally I found the scene where the Avengers arrive to apologize to Jessica to be a delightfully surreal moment, as they are almost like a collection of little kids who have been cornered after they've just broken a window. I did notice that the Vision didn't offer up any apology though which is rather telling considering it was his attack that likely did the most damage.

This issue stands up as a rather effective display of how to make use of multiple artists, as Brian Michael Bendis looks to have structured the story with the idea that certain sections would be handled by different artists. So for the material set in the present day we have our regular artist in Michael Gaydos, who also handles the more down to earth material that details what happened after Jessica was knocked into a coma by the Vision. We then have Mark Bagley who steps in for a few pages to deliver the high energy battle between Jessica & the Avengers, though it really can't be labelled a battle as Jessica is little more than a punching page for this collection of enraged heroes. I especially enjoyed the contrasting stream of tears that show up on the Vision & Warbird's faces, as one signifies a character's anger, while the other a character's grief. We then get a nice little section by Rick Mays who is called upon to deliver the scene that takes place inside Jessica's mind, and we see the place is a rather cheery, upbeat place, which helps sell the idea of why she would be reluctant to return to the real world. This feeling is especially effective when we get our first look as the extensive damage that was done to Jessica. There's also a great looking shot of the gathered Avengers, though I do have to ask about the nipple design on Iron Man's armor.

Final Word:
This issue left me a bit flat as the big answer to the question that has acted as the "big" mystery in this series turns out to be Jessica got beat up real bad after she was tricked into getting in a fight with the Avengers, and as such she decided to quite the super-hero game. Now the explanation fits, and for the most part it addresses all the unresolved issues that had been introduced, as we now know why Jessica isn't comfortable hanging around with the Avengers, and why people being able to recall little more than she was once a super-hero is enough to get her in a foul mood, as it was her low profile when she was a super-hero that allowed the Avengers to automatically assume she was a villain. However, just because the final piece of the puzzle fits, doesn't mean I'm overly impressed by the final picture, as I can't help but get the sense that the past two years of build up deserved something with a little more punch. I also found Nick Fury's quick sell on the S.H.I.E.L.D. offer to be a bit clumsy, as he comes across as a desperate used car salesman.



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