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Alias #27

Posted: Friday, October 3, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
When her conversation with the Purple Man ends badly, Jessica prepares to break the news to her clients, as well as let them know about her past with the person she's was asked to investigate. However, Jessica worst nightmare becomes a reality when the Purple Man escapes from jail, and based on their earlier conversation there's little doubt he'll be gunning for her.

Comments:
This issue offers up a rather unusual take on the typical hero versus villain rivalry, as the villain is operating under the delusion that he's a character in a comic book, and as such his every action is controlled by a writer. He even makes mention a couple comic book staples like the cliffhanger ending, and the idea that his origin is downright goofy when one looks back upon it. Now this breaking of the fourth wall isn't the same as we saw in the "Sensational She-Hulk", or even what Grant Morrison offered up over in "Animal Man", as while Purple Man is fully caught up in his delusion that he exists within a comic book, and the comic book itself seems to be playing by the rules that he explains in the opening pages, the simple fact of the matter is that the rest of the book plays it pretty straight-faced, as Jessica's reactions are that of a terrified woman, rather than a confused one who has had her world turned upside-down by the crazed rantings of a mad man. So does this comic break the fourth wall? To a certain extent is does, as Brian Michael Bendis uses the Purple Man as a means of peeking behind the curtain, in so much that there are a couple panels where it looks like Purple Man is reading off the very panel descriptions that Brian Michael Bendis would've delivered to his artist. In the end I found it to be a very engaging bit of interaction, and this issue's final cliffhanger is truly shocking. In fact it's one of the better unexpected twists I've come across in years.

As for the art, Michael Gaydos is done a bit of a disservice by the opening scene where we see Purple Man is busy describing what we are suppose to see in the panels, as his art doesn't exactly shine when it comes to delivering glassy eyes that are barely holding back the tears, or the piercing, hypnotic gaze of the sinister villain. However, the art is very good when it comes to presenting the idea that Jessica is scared out of her mind after she learns the Purple Man escaped, as there's a wonderful series of panels where she's trying to contact various people she loves to remove them from Purple Man's potential grasp. The last page of this issue is also very well done as I think that's about one of the most nightmarish situations one could be presented with.

Final Word:
This issue offers up a wonderfully twisted take on the typical villainous ranting we receive in comics, as image if Hannibal Lecter had started going on about his being a character in a movie, and as such the very structure of the story itself dictated that he would escape during the final act. Now some fans might be put off by this breaking of the fourth wall, but I have to say that it works exceptionally well if one looks upon it as the rantings of a mad man rather than Brian Michael Bendis trying to be clever, as while it's a little of both, I rather enjoyed the way that Jessica and the others were able to dismiss the Purple Man's claims as demented ravings, in spite of how insightful his comments might have been about our lead character and the world she moves about within. The latter half of the issue is also quite impressive, as it really amps up the tension and firmly establishes the idea that Jessica is actively terrified of the Purple Man, and based on this issue's horrific final page she certainly has good reason to be.



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