Tag Archives: brian michael bendis

Investigating Alias #24-25

Alias (2001-2003) 024-000Investigating Alias is a weekly issue by issue look at the source material that inspired the popular and critically acclaimed Jessica Jones Netflix show.

In this installment of Investigating Alias, I will be covering Alias #24-25 (2003) written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Michael Gaydos, and colored by Matt Hollingsworth with flashback art and colors on Alias #25 by Mark Bagley and Dean White.

Alias #24 begins the final arc of the comic, “Purple”, in which Jessica Jones finally talks about how she was mind controlled by Zebediah Killgrave, aka the Purple Man, forced to watch him rape young women, and eventually sent on a “mission” by him to kill any superhero in her path. Writer Brian Michael Bendis and artists Michael Gaydos and Mark Bagley (with the exception of one panel with two naked girls on Killgrave’s bed) don’t show Killgrave’s rapes, but convey his horribleness from quick flashes of him using his power on Jessica Jones, and Jessica’s reactions to him in the present day.

Alias #24 and #25 are powerful and unsettling issues of the series and had a huge influence on the Jessica Jones Netflix show from the close relationship between Jessica and Luke Cage to Killgrave’s ability to instantly make someone do what he wants and even the support group for Killgrave’s victims. And most of all, the show and comic both show the effects of Jessica Jones’ PTSD without exploiting her or participating in victim blaming.

Alias #24 features an out of left field cameo appearance from Kevin Plunder aka Ka-Zar, the ruler of the Savage Land, who wants Jessica Jones to find his pet sabretooth tiger. This case is a little too much for her so she goes home looking for something more local, and then gets a phone call from a woman named Kim Rourke, who needs her help finding information about Zebediah Killgrave. Kim was referred by Avengers Mansion so Jessica flies over there and confronts her friend Carol Danvers for bringing up something terrible for her past, and things get heated with Scott Lang shrinking, growing, and hopping in her cab while Captain America just wants everyone to sit down and have a cup of tea. Scott also found out about her past with Killgrave without her permission so Jessica jumps out of the cab and goes to Kim’s house where dozens of Killgrave’s victims are assembled. She tells them about how his powers come from pheromones, and that he is currently in the supervillain prison, The Raft, after confessing to some mass killings. However, the people in the support group want closure and for him to confess to each of their situations, and Jessica empathizes with the group and takes the case.

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Alias #25 opens with Jessica Jones lying in her underwear at Luke Cage’s apartment. Working the Killgrave case has heightened her PTSD, and she ended up angrily calling Luke, flying into his apartment, and then puking all over clothes. Luke sent her clothes to the cleaner, let her crash on his couch, and now wants to know what’s wrong with her. Jessica tells him about Killgrave as the art style switches to the style of Mark Bagley’s Amazing Spider-Man comics in the 1990s complete with early digital style colors from Dean White that are different from Matt Hollingsworth’s darker, more naturalistic palette. Jessica (then Jewel) was doing a routine superhero patrol when Killgrave placed her under his mental control, made her attack the police so he could get away, and made her his slave for eight months. He didn’t have sex with her, but even worse, he made her watch as he raped college age women and forced her to bathe and beg him for sex. After a headline shows Daredevil saving the day, Killgrave just snaps and orders Jessica to kill him and any superhero in her path. The issue ends with Jessica flying and then punching Scarlet Witch when she is surrounded by both the Avengers and Defenders. She flies away and is confronted by Thor.

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Alias #24 and #25 is a study in what to do and what not to do with someone, who has been through a traumatic event, like being raped or having a family member murdered in front of them in the case of some of the people at the Killgrave support group. Listening is the key, and this is why most of these issues is dialogue driven with Gaydos using the interview layout format for Jessica Jones to answer the support group’s questions about Killgrave. He also uses a 21 panel grid as Jessica opens up to Luke Cage about her past with Killgrave. Luke Cage isn’t perfect and makes an insensitive joke about group sex with the New Warriors, but he’s a better listener than Scott Lang, whose dialogue in the issue is basically him mansplaining to Jessica that he already knows all about her past because he has Avengers clearance. He also doesn’t respect her boundaries and uses his size changing powers in creepy ways like jumping into her taxi cab, hiding on her sunglasses when he’s shrunk down as Ant-Man, and generally making a mess of things.

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Unlike TV shows, like Law and Order: SVU and the recent season of Game of Thrones, and comics like Lobo and Aquaman, which use rape for cheap drama in advancing plotlines, Bendis, Gaydos, and Bagley take Killgrave’s actions very seriously and focus on how his victims’ feelings instead of throwing in cheap plot twists. They show Jessica to be visibly affected by the return of Killgrave to her life with Gaydos drawing a double page spread of Jessica Jones flying on top of a roof, touching her stomach, and taking a moment to process her feelings before she goes to the support group. Bendis, Bagley, and Gaydos also use dialogue, facial expressions, and gestures to depict his actions instead of showing the rapes. Bagley draws his first appearance in Alias #25, which goes from being a happy superhero escapade complete with upbeat dialogue from Bendis and a poster worthy splash page to slow close-ups of Killgrave’s smirking face as he tells Jessica Jones to take off her clothes and then beat up the police so he can finish his steak. This jarring shift in tone from traditional superhero tale to disturbing mental manipulation shows how destructive and evil he is.

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Alias #24 and #25 establishes Killgrave as one of the most terrible and pathetic villains in the Marvel Universe. Like in the Jessica Jones TV show, he never takes “No” for answer and is what rape culture apologists, like Roosh V and his Return of Kings cronies, aspire to be. He uses his mental abilities just to sate his own appetites from telling 84 people to stop breathing when a restaurant is too loud to his rapes of college students that he makes Jessica watch for eight months. However, like most men who sexually assault women and manipulating other people for their own pleasure, Killgrave has an inferiority complex and tortures Jessica Jones mentally and sexually because of the many times he had been defeated by Daredevil, the Avengers, or other superheroes. He hates these superheroes because they have the power to ruin his lifestyle of getting anything he wants from anyone.

One of Bendis’ finest moments as a writer in Alias comes in issue 24 when Jessica is talking with Kim Rourke about Killgrave’s abilities and whereabouts. Jessica tells her, “It isn’t the person. The victim cannot be blamed  for– for– for anything they do when they are under this asshole’s control.” This line of dialogue is a sharp right hook at victim blaming and gains meaning later on when Jessica reveals to Luke that she still struggles with realizing that her beating up police officers and Scarlet Witch and watching Killgrave rape women wasn’t her fault because his pheromones felt so “pure”. Killgrave’s abilities could be a metaphor for date rape drugs, like rohypnol, which incapacitates victims and impairs memory. But, in spite of these manipulations and feelings, Bendis makes it completely clear that Killgrave is 100% in the wrong, and that it isn’t Jessica or any of his victims’ faults that they did terrible things for him.

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On a slightly happier note, Alias #25 starts to a create an emotional bond between Jessica Jones and Luke Cage and was the first issue of the series that I could see them actually working as a couple. First of all, Luke doesn’t shame Jessica for her drinking or use of profanity like Scott does in their date back in Alias #15 and helps her at her lowest moment without getting angry or defensive. She got angry and flew into his apartment and busted his fridge? So, he makes up a spot for her on the couch while cleaning her vomit stained clothes. However, they really bond once Jessica opens up about her past and feels bad that no one asked about her when she went missing for eight months while she was with Killgrave. Gaydos draws a pained expression on her face, and then Bendis gives Luke some simple dialogue (“Come here.”) and he gives her a hug. Luke Cage doesn’t have the answers to all of Jessica’s problems, but he is just there for her and listens. He is supportive of her just like Jessica is supportive of the other Killgrave victims that want her to investigate him.

By caring about the emotions and feelings of victims of Killgrave’s rapes, sexual assaults, and other mental manipulations, Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, and Mark Bagley use Alias #24-25 as an opportunity to create empathy for Jessica Jones the character and show how truly difficult it is for her take on the case involving him. They also lay the foundation for Killgrave as a villain, who is the ultimate embodiment of rape culture, with the inability to be refused anything by anyone that continued to be explored in the Jessica Jones TV show. One difference between the comic and show in regards to him is his hatred for superheroes, which is why he sends Jessica after them.

Alias #24 and #25 are two difficult comics to read and think about with their descriptions of rape and depictions of PTSD, but Bendis, Gaydos, and Bagley make sure that the blame for all these terrible things are laid squarely on  the rapist, Zebediah Killgrave.

Review: Spider-Man #1

Spider-Man_1_CoverThis is it, with Spider-Man #1 Miles Morales is officially part of the 616 (or whatever the new Marvel Universe is called) and gets the spotlight. And along with him is some of his cast-mates like Ganke and his parents. We don’t know what’s happened in the past eight months, but things seem to be mashed together well, as if this has been the way it always is.

The comic is fascinating in that it does Peter Parker Spider-Man than the current comics featuring Peter Parker. Miles is in school attempting to balance school and his responsibilities as a hero. He’s not quite doing well with either position.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis has basically hit a reset button with this character and is giving us the best Spider-Man comic of the bunch so far.

Joining Bendis is artist Sara Pichelli, yes the team that made Ultimate Spider-Man so fun. Pichelli’s art is absolutely fantastic and she’s just beyond perfect to kick off the series. I loved her work in her previous run with Miles, and having her here is just awesome. She does an amazing job of mixing action and the quieter moment of Miles in his non superhero life.

The comic feels like what’s come before, but just in a different universe. That’s good and bad in that it feels familiar and is just as fun, it’s bad in that we don’t know Miles’ history/origin/etc. There’s some questions to be resolved, and hopefully we get some of it. And hopefully the comic keeps it up, because it’ll be fun as we find it all out.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Sara Pichelli
Story: 8.4 Art: 8.9 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Spider-Man #1 Swings Into Comic Shops This Wednesday!

This Wednesday, Miles Morales comes to the Marvel Universe, and he’s here to stay! But before Spider-Man #1 comes to comic shops everywhere and digital devices, Marvel has released a new look inside the highly anticipated first issue! Strap in as Miles Morales co-creators Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli present the next chapter in the young hero’s life!

Sure, he’s been doing the superhero thing for a while now, but following the events of Secret Wars, Miles finds himself a full-fledged resident of the Marvel Universe. Swinging alongside Captain America, Thor and Iron Man as a member of the Avengers and patrolling the Big Apple’s rooftops as NYC’s own Spider-Man! But it’s not all fun and games. A lot has transpired in the eight months since Secret Wars and an entire new universe awaits – friend and foe alike. Is he ready to face the new Marvel Universe? Better yet – is the Marvel Universe ready for Miles Morales?

SPIDER-MAN #1 (DEC150723)
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Art & Cover by SARA PICHELLI
Hip-Hop Variant by ADI GRANOV (DEC150724)
Variant Covers by MICHAEL CHO (DEC150725), SKOTTIE YOUNG (DEC150726), and MARK BAGLEY (DEC150727)
Blank Variant Also Available
On-Sale – 2/03/16

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Investigating Alias #22-23

Alias23CoverInvestigating Alias is a weekly issue by issue look at the source material that inspired the popular and critically acclaimed Jessica Jones Netflix show.

In this installment of Investigating Alias, I will be covering Alias #22-23(2003) written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Michael Gaydos, and colored by Matt Hollingsworth.

In Alias #22-23, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos channel their inner Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby respectively and give us the “Secret Origin of Jessica Jones”. Bendis’ plot manages to put Jessica Jones adjacent to many of the major events of the Silver Age Marvel Universe as she turns into Marvel’s equivalent of Forrest Gump, but she can fly and has a penchant for dropping f-bombs. However, he and Gaydos also lay the foundation for many things in her future, like her problems controlling her powers, issues with superheroes in general, and her lack of fear in publicly calling out horrible people. (It’s truly a crowning moment of awesome when she calls Flash Thompson “a fucking repressed dickhead”.) And along the way, Bendis and Gaydos don’t shy away from showing her difficult childhood with a heartbreaking scene where the head of the children’s home tells her it’s a “miracle”.

Alias #22 opens with a note that Gaydos is doing the art in the style of Steve Ditko, whose stories in Amazing Spider-Man portrayed Peter Parker as a social outcast by day and fighting animal themed villains by night before John Romita Sr turned the book into a romance comic with tights. (For the record, I enjoy both artists’ work.) Jessica Campbell (later Jones) is a student at Midtown High and is an even bigger outcast than Peter Parker, who she has a huge crush on. She finally gathers her courage to ask him out, but then he gets bit by a spider and she almost gets hit by the radioactive waste truck that gives Daredevil his powers. The scene turns to Jessica’s home life as her bratty little brother catches her masturbating to the Human Torch in his Fantastic Four comic. As her parents argue about her dad not standing up to his boss on a family road trip (He works for Tony Stark.), Jessica and her brother get into a tiff, which leads to her dad not looking at the road and crashing. Her entire family dies, and Jessica is left in a coma. In another crazy coincidence, she wakes up during Galactus’ invasion of Earth in Fantastic Four #48-50, and after a stay in a group home, gets adopted by the Jones family.

Alias #23 is all about Jessica Jones getting used to her new powers. She returns to Midtown High because her adopted family lives in Queens as well, tells off Flash Thompson, and runs away from Peter Parker, when he says that he “pities her”. This combined with the grief over the loss of her family causes her to fly for the first time and fall in the water and almost drown. Then, Thor saves her, and she thanks him by swearing and puking on his boots. She then has an insightful talk with her adopted dad about superheroes, and how that how they come across to society is why certain ones are loved and hated. Basically, the Fantastic Four are popular because they don’t wear creepy masks and are a nuclear family. The issue and short arc closes with Jessica testing her strength and flying and stopping a Z-level supervillain. It’s a traditional superhero deed done in a non-superhero way because she has no costume or codename.

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In “Secret Origin of Jessica Jones”, Brian Michael Bendis finds a happy medium between the deconstruction of superheroes in the work of Alan Moore and Frank Miller in the 1980s and the reconstruction of them in the work of Kurt Busiek and Mark Waid in the 1990s. However, Bendis is more concerned with laying the first stones of Jessica Jones’ character arc than making any sweeping statements about superhero comics as whole although he makes an excellent in-universe statement about why the Fantastic Four are beloved, and Spider-Man is feared towards the end of the story. Alias #23 ends on an up note as Jessica Jones has taken down her first supervillain with her flying, but not landing powers, but it’s no one big time just a guy, who looks the like love child of the Scorpion and one of the Serpent Squad’s groupies. It’s a glimpse of hope after the death of her family, her coma,  bullying at school, and failed attempts to fly. Bendis also finds some humor in the straight laced nature of the Silver Age by contrasting Jessica Jones’ speech pattern with Stan Lee’s dialogue, which he even takes word for word from Amazing Fantasy #15, a comic he adapted in the first arc of Ultimate Spider-Man as well as her puking all over Thor’s boots, which works really well because Gaydos draws him just like Jack Kirby’s Thor.

JessicaJonesPeterParker

In fact, the visual evolution and progression of Michael Gaydos’ art style from straight Ditko to a hybrid Kirby meets his own style towards the end of issue 22 and 23 is the most fascinating thing about his arc of Alias. Gaydos’ initial conception of Jessica Jones is Ditko meets Daniel Clowes with Jessica being lonely, alienated, and at the margins while sporting the glasses, freckles, and almost the hairstyle of Enid Coleslaw from Ghost World. Colorist Matt Hollingsworth gives the pre-coma scenes a four color feel with bright yellow buildings, blue shirts, and green grass. The reading experience is like finding a forgotten comic from the 1960s, but unlike Stan Lee, Bendis lets the art breathe without overwhelming the page with narrative captions and constant expository dialogue. A six panel grid showing Peter Parker getting in a car while Jessica silently blinks her eyes showing that she is smitten with him before tracing her hand on her diary. The scene where she masturbates to the Human Torch, and where her family dies are also silent as Gaydos’ art and Hollingsworth’s colors chronicle Jessica’s sexual awakening and the most tragic moment of her life through their art and colors. Nothing else needs to be said.

When Jessica wakes up from her coma in Alias #22, the art looks more similar to Gaydos and Hollingsworth’s usual style. The colors are muted, and Gaydos’ style is more realistic than the Ditko style cartooning of the earlier bits of the issue. However, whenever a superhero shows up, like the Silver Surfer or Thor, the designs and movementsare pure Kirby magic with the Silver Surfer soaring through the sky as Galactus blasts him with the digital equivalent of Kirby krackle. This contrasts with Jessica’s awkward moments as Gaydos cuts up the page into multiple panels to show her failed attempts at flying and flailing around in the water. She is different from the smooth moving, lantern jawed heroes of the Silver Age mainly because she’s an awkward teen. Bendis and Bagley did some similar things with Peter Parker in Ultimate Spider-Man showing him “spazzing out” and breaking desks when he nodded off in class and making him not the most competent fighter in some of the earlier arcs of the comic. Superpowers are definitely a great metaphor for growing up, and this is why teen superheroes continue to be a draw with Bendis still writing about the teen hero Miles Morales in 2016.

JessicaJonesMasturbates

The most revolutionary moment in Alias #22 and perhaps in Marvel Comics history is the teenage Jessica Jones touching herself as she looks at pictures of the Human Torch. This is probably the first time someone has been showed pleasuring themselves in a superhero comic, and Neil Gaiman wasn’t allowed to use the word “masturbate” in The Sandman because apparently no one in the DC Universe in the late 1980s masturbated. (This explains so much about Batman.) But what makes this scene so important is that Bendis and Gaydos are showing that women can be sexually attracted to superheroes (and superheroines) just like men are. Gaydos’ art evokes the female gaze as he cuts between the picture of the smiling Human Torch, and Jessica slowly putting her hand in her underwear. In that moment, he exists for her own pleasure, and Bendis doesn’t commentate on that scene showing that it is just a natural human function. Of course, her little brother bursts in, and this sets up the antagonistic relationship between them that leads to their squabble in the car and possibly the fatal crash. However, although she is a part of the fantastic Marvel Universe, Jessica Jones has perfectly normal sexual urges and can have an orgasm by herself.

Silence continues to be golden in another important sequence in Alias #23, which is when Jessica’s powers gottenJessFirstFlight through the time honored Marvel way of something nuclear, atomic, or radioactive activate. (Even the X-Men, who are born with their powers, are called the “Children of the Atom” because some of their parents, like Hank McCoy’s, worked around nuclear power plants.) Gaydos creates a concentrated emotional burst cutting between Jessica’s crying face, horrible things from her past, and shots of her shoes as she wobbles into the air. Hollingsworth overlays the past panels with yellow to differentiate between them and her current situation. Getting a pity talk from Peter Parker is the impetus for her taking flight for the first time, but it’s really more complex than that like her guilt over the car crash, Flash Thompson’s bullying, the woman at the group home say that it’s miraculous she could find foster parents for her, and her coma. Her flight gets a full page splash, but she’s no Superman and doesn’t strike an iconic pose. Her profanity as she falls into the water is how someone might actually react to having superpowers instead of finding the nearest crashing plane and catching it. (I’m really throwing shade on Supes in this paragraph.) The faux-Shakespearean English/Asgardian dialogue that Bendis writes for Thor is some of the funniest writing Bendis has ever done.

And even though she doesn’t don a costume, and her first heroic deed is saving a laundromat from being robbed, Bendis finds time to comment on the superhero genre. He does this in a conversation between Jessica and her foster dad Mr. Jones when she asks him the age-old question of why Spider-Man is hated and feared, and the Fantastic Four are beloved by the public while her future employer J. Jonah Jameson pontificates in the background. Mr. Jones nails the difference in one word, “image”. In the Marvel Universe, Spider-Man is a freaky, mysterious looking guy (Even though he has become the mascot of Marvel in real life.) while the Fantastic Four are a family sitcom with superpowers. Jessica’s dad says that he would pick a better costume and style than Spider-Man if he was a superhero and doesn’t say that he would 100% be a hero if he had special powers. This line of dialogue creates a little tension in Jessica between doing heroic things and just living a normal life and paying the bills that is explored throughout Alias from her hesitating to stop the robbery of a convenience store to trying to help Captain America keep his secret identity. She doesn’t want to be a superhero in the comic, but keeps getting caught up in that word through her cases, work as a bodyguard for Matt Murdock, and even her love interests, Scott Lang and Luke Cage.

This complicated relationship with superheroes stands in contrast with her antagonistic relationship with superheroes in the Jessica Jones TV show. Her origin in the show involves a similar non-superhero costumed wearing exploit as she stops a mugger, but then Kilgrave shows up immediately. Also, she is completely opposed to the Jewel costume that Trish Walker makes for her unlike in Alias where she wore it to fight crime for a while. The Jessica Jones TV show’s lack of connection to the Marvel Universe made it a refreshing break from the Easter Egg and teaser-laden Marvel Cinematic Universe films, but it loses a chance to explore her place in the superhero genre. But this is a smart idea because Fox owns the Fantastic Four, and most of Marvel’s big guns, like Captain America, Spider-Man, and even Carol Danvers and Scott Lang, are basically exclusive to the films.

Jessica Jones has a very Marvel and a very un-Marvel origin in Alias #22-23. Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos make her connected to major figures and events of the Marvel Universe, like going to the same school as Peter Parker and waking up from her coma the same night as the Galactus trilogy, as well as making her an orphan and getting her powers Atomic Age style. However, there is still the same emotional nuance and realism found in the previous 21 issues of Alias even though Gaydos’ art style is similar to Steve Ditko’s and Jack Kirby’s in many places as Jessica deals with her crush only talking to her because he feels bad for her, feels unwanted as one of the older kids at the group home, and takes the masturbation subtext present in Spider-Man’s powers to the bright light of day.

“The Secret Origin of Jessica Jones” is my personal favorite arc of Alias as Bendis, Gaydos, and Hollingsworth pay tribute to the Marvel Age of Comics while not being weighed down in nostalgia and use its visual styling through modern storytelling tricks like silent pages and decompression to give Jessica Jones a strong foundation as a character.

Investigating Alias #20-21

Alias_Vol_1_20Investigating Alias is a weekly issue by issue look at the source material that inspired the popular and critically acclaimed Jessica Jones Netflix show.

In this installment of Investigating Alias, I will be covering Alias #20-21(2003) written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Michael Gaydos, and colored by Matt Hollingsworth with dream sequence art from Mark Bagley, Al Vey, and Dean White in Alias #21.

“The Underneath” wraps up in Alias #20-21 as writer Brian Michael Bendis puts the meat of the plot in these issues as well as humanizing J. Jonah Jameson and showing that Jessica Jones can be pretty damn heroic as she has a real connection with Mattie Franklin, the third Spider-Woman, who has been drugged and used as a source of mutant growth hormone (MGH) by her skeezy, wannabe Kingpin boyfriend Denny Haynes. Alias #20 opens up with Jessica Drew going all Emperor Palpatine on Jessica Jones with bio-electric venom blasts, and then our protagonist repays her in kind with a right hook. They bond over the fact that they hate the Avengers and costumes and meet with J. Jonah Jameson and his wife Marla, who formally hire them to find Mattie after an emotional plea. A database search and phone call later, they end up at Denny’s hotel room where another young superhero and former New Warrior Speedball is losing control of his very colorful force field powers. Between this and Civil War where he’s involved in the deaths of hundreds of school children in Stamford, Connecticut, I feel really bad for him.

Alias #21 concludes this arc and starts off with Matt Hollingsworth’s most colorful palette yet with the primary colored energy bursts causing Jessica Jones to lapse in a dream state. This completely silent three page sequence is drawn by Mark Bagley and Al Vey with colors from Dean White and is the first time Killgrave (aka the Purple Man) has appeared in Alias as he is shown kissing and manipulating Jessica before the Defenders led by Doctor Strange show up. It’s a harrowing look at Jessica’s dark past and features many Marvel Universe cameos. After this, Jessica Jones takes out Denny Haynes and with an assist from Jessica Drew and various hotel room furniture dispatches the rude, sexist guy, who was hopped on MGH and beat her up in the club when she was looking for Mattie a couple issues back. They then find out that Speedball has been working with the police to bust Denny’s MGH ring, and Jessica Jones has to fly across New York City with a barely conscious Mattie to avoid Jameson’s enemies using her against him.

The story skips six weeks forward, and a now clean Mattie thanks Jessica Jones for saving her, gives her a newspaper story from J. Jonah Jameson that portrays her as a hero taking down a drug ring, and Marla Jameson says an offer to work as a P.I. for the Daily Bugle is still on the table. Jessica rejects the offer and ends up having an awkward chat/apology with Scott Lang, who hasn’t talked to her in six weeks, but professes his love for her in a manner worthy of a Cameron Crowe film. She reluctantly agrees to another date.

Alias #20 and #21 are pretty big issues in the scope of the series as a whole with the first appearance of Purple Man setting up the series’ final arc featuring his return into Jessica’s life. There is also Jessica having her first kind of “superhero team-up” (in a non-traditional manner) with Jessica Drew, having her longest “flight” yet, and Bendis kind of setting up the sequel series he did to Alias called The Pulse where Jessica worked for a special section of the Daily Bugle focused around superheroes. But beyond these pivotal moments, Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos show the emotional connection that Jessica Jones has created with the Mattie Franklin case because both she and Mattie were young superheroes and orphans, who were manipulated by older, evil men to do things that they didn’t want to.

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This is really captured in the closing of Alias #21 when Jessica is perfectly understanding and empathetic with Mattie. She loves smoking and drinking excessively, being snarky, and punching out her fellow ex-superhero P.I.’s, but also helps Mattie recover from her rape at the hands of Denny Haynes. Visually, Gaydos and Hollingsworth ditch the dark stylized noir of the New York, hotel room, and even earlier office scenes for a neutral palette and a simple nine panel grid as Jessica supports Mattie through the line, “Actually, I know exactly what you mean.” Jessica Jones is truly heroic because she doesn’t just punch out the rapists, but helps the victim recover by listening and just being there for Mattie Franklin

This conversation is followed up by an uncharacteristically positive superhero related story about Jessica Jones and Jessica Drew’s actions from J. Jonah Jameson, who Bendis had given some depth in Alias #20. First off, he has Jameson (through Ben Urich as a go-between) contact Jessica Jones first about helping him find Mattie after threatening her earlier arc, and after she scammed him and used his money to help charities instead of Spider-Man’s secret identity. This is a big step for him, and it’s because he is close to Mattie. Gaydos shows this emotion in his artwork with two close ups of Jameson’s sad face on an uncharacteristically silent page. If you remember, Bendis and Gaydos turned Alias #10 into an illustrated screenplay because Jameson talks so much.

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A quiet J. Jonah Jameson is a big deal, and Bendis and Gaydos show this through the words and facial expressions of Marla Jameson. The scene is framed in the usual little square, big rectangle interview layout that’s been used throughout Alias, but Gaydos continues to zoom into Marla’s face and show how she partially feels responsible for Mattie going missing because of her and Jonah’s busy job. The final close-up shows her fear and the reason why she wants to hire Jessica Jones (and Jessica Drew) because the editor of a newspaper that attacks superheroes having a superhero foster daughter with drug issues could end Jonah’s career and ruin her family’s reputation. But Jonah’s motive isn’t entirely to save his own cigar chomping self, and Marla says that he truly cares for Mattie and wants to be a good father for her to make up for his mistakes with his son, John. Through this conversation and Jonah having to excuse himself earlier, Bendis and Gaydos show a more vulnerable, human side of the tabloid publisher. This is just a man, who wants his daughter to be okay and happens to mistrust masked heroes in an extreme way.

The most fun in Alias #20-21 comes from Jessica Jones and Jessica Drew teaming up. Bendis created Jessica Jones and revived Jessica Drew as a character putting her in the Spider-Woman costume for the first time in over 20 years in New Avengers and giving her own solo book in the Spider-Woman Origin comic in 2005. It’s safe to say he loves both characters and makes them equals in this adventure as they find common ground in their hatred for the Avengers and costumes. Bendis doesn’t have Jessica Drew come up with a huge reason for hanging up the Spider-Woman threads just that it made her “ass look fat”, and this sets up a perfect opportunity for Jessica Jones to quip about the leather The Matrix-inspired costumes that had been proliferating in the Marvel Universe since Ultimate X-Men. They both find a key piece of evidence to the whereabouts of Denny Haynes, and Jessica Drew gives Jessica Jones grief for using the Internet. This is because she doesn’t have an international network like Jessica Drew that pays for month long trips to Istanbul and has to make ends meet any way possible. However, Jessica Drew doesn’t come across as rich and annoying, and her venom blasts are really handy for getting inside locked doors. Hollingsworth uses harsh blue-white coloring for them to make them really jarring against the shadowy backgrounds of the hotels, streets, and apartments that Jessica Drew and Jessica Jones search for Mattie in. She is confident in her abilities, and it seems like Bendis is gunning for Jessica Drew to come back full time as a superhero, which she would two years later in New Avengers. (She was a Skrull though, oops.)

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Gaydos and Hollingsworth make a rare artistic misstep in the scenes featuring Speedball’s powers towards the end of Alias #20 and at the beginning of Alias #21. The Dippin’ Dots-style colors for his forcefield abilities are really fun, and it’s like he wandered off the set of a kid-friendly Disney Channel show into an HBO drama. However, the yellow, blue, and green balls everywhere obscure the action when Jessica Jones takes out Denny Haynes and his high-on-MGH goon with Jessica Drew and lessens the catharsis of this beatdown. But even if the action is less clear to follow, Gaydos, Hollingsworth, and letterer Cory Petit create an aura of chaos with his powers going everywhere and show that Speedball, who is having problems controlling his powers, is unsuited for this kind of delicate work like secretly infiltrating a drug ring to get MGH of the street. It’s like a darker 21 Jump Street situation, but with superheroes.

EnterKillgrave

Speedball’s colorful abilities do have one visual upside. They create enough of a trippy environment for Jessica Jones to fall into a kind of dream state for three pages, and the brightness of his costume and abilities is kind of a segue between rough hewn noir meets realism of Gaydos and the traditional superhero work of Bagley in the flashback scenes. The first page Bagley draws in a nine panel grid is the most powerful and unsettling as the shrouded, purple form of Killgrave has Jessica (in her Jewel costume) completely under his control. His appearance in the margins of the panel reminds me of early on in the Jessica Jones TV show where he just appeared in Jessica’s head or manipulated people from barely offscreen. His name isn’t mentioned in this issue, and the dream sequence is obscure foreshadowing, like the all-dream episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Restless”. The classic Defenders lineup of Hulk, Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange, Namor, Nighthawk, and Valkyrie showing up casts this dream even more into the realm of the weird. But Bendis and Bagley are wise to not let the cameo overwhelm the sequence and end with a close-up of Jessica Jones in her civilian clothes terrified and wielding some kind of energy weapon. It’s the first real visual taste of Jessica’s past mental manipulation at the hands of Killgrave, and Bendis keeps things extremely mysterious for now.

JessicaFlies

Even though there is an epilogue I mentioned earlier with Jessica Jones comforting Mattie six weeks after her incident and yet enough horrible conversation with Scott Lang, who calls Jessica crazy and then that he loves her, the full page spreads of Jessica flying with Mattie through the air are the true climax of “The Underneath” arc. It’s been mentioned earlier that Jessica can fly, but never figured out landing so it’s an ability she rarely uses. And in keeping with this, Gaydos’ flying pose for Jessica is pretty awkward, and she even crash lands in a random empty room saying the very Jessica Jones one-liner, “The shit I gotta do” before finding a taxi. But the opposite of Superman flying skills aside, this is one of the most heroic things Jessica Jones has done in Alias. She sympathizes with Mattie so much that she uses an ability that she is still uncomfortable with to make sure that Mattie gets home safe without the police and media using her as a tabloid headline. And unlike the beginning of the arc where she hesitates to stop a convenience store robbery, Jessica just jumps out of a window with Mattie. Even though she isn’t particularly inspirational and makes plenty of mistakes, Jessica Jones is a true hero.

Some visual issues with Speedball’s powers aside, Alias #20-21 is a real highlight reel for the series so far. There’s some banter and ass kicking with Jessica Drew and Jessica Jones taking down the men, who have been manipulating, drugging, and raping Mattie Franklin and some character growth as J. Jonah Jameson trusts and writes positively about superheroes who have touched his life personally. Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley also give us our first look at Killgrave and hint at the horrible things in Jessica Jones’ past, which she has used to empathize with Mattie in a powerful way. And finally, we get to see Jessica Jones fly in her own unique way with Michael Gaydos using a full page spread, but rejecting the iconic poses of superheroes in flight for Jessica struggling to carry Mattie. This scene is a real visual climax for the series so far and shows that Jessica Jones is a hero on her own terms and despite her self-doubt and lack of traditional superhero qualities.

Investigating Alias #18-19

18-marvelInvestigating Alias is a weekly issue by issue look at the source material that inspired the popular and critically acclaimed Jessica Jones Netflix show.

In this installment of Investigating Alias, I will be covering Alias #18-19 (2003) written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Michael Gaydos, and colored by Matt Hollingsworth.

In Alias #18, Scott Lang commits relationship suicide by asking Jessica if she was raped after she won’t open up about the past experience that Madame Web saw in the previous issue. After fielding an annoying phone call from her friend Carol Danvers aka Ms. Marvel, Jessica actually goes to her day job as a bodyguard for Matt Murdock, who is afraid that Daredevil’s enemies will come after him after he was outed as Daredevil in the tabloids. With the appearance from Murdock and later mentions of mutant growth hormone (MGH), writer Brian Michael Bendis intertwines “The Underneath” arc of Alias closely with his then current run on Daredevil. After work, her annoying fanboy Malcolm introduces her to Laney, the sister of a wannabe drug lord named Denny Haynes, who is supposedly having sex with Mattie Franklin and likes to party at the charmingly named Club 616. Jessica affects the clothes, makeup, and speaking patterns of a Manhattan socialite, gets into the club, and then sees Denny with Mattie super doped up right beside him.

Alias #19 features some downright pulsating colors from Matt Hollingsworth as Jessica’s attempt to rescue Mattie is foiled by Denny and his friends, who are shooting up MGH taken directly from a wound in her back. It’s a jarring, sickening sight for Jessica, and she tries to grab Mattie, but is actually defeated in a physical fight by some men who are hopped up on MGH. After getting thrown out of the club bleeding and barely conscious, she meets Ben Urich, who says he has been tailing her because J. Jonah Jameson thinks she has Mattie, and gives her important information about MGH. Then, she checks into the hospital, lies to police officers about being mugged, and finally ends up back in her apartment for a much needed rest. However, the issue ends on a real shocker (Pun fully intended) of a cliffhanger as Jessica Drew (formerly Spider-Woman) shows up in her apartment furious about what has happened to Mattie.

In these two middle issues of “The Underneath” arc, Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos go right at the jugular at every day sexism beginning with making Scott Lang a textbook mansplainer in the opening of Alias #18 and flat out asking her if she got raped even though she doesn’t want to talk about her past. And even when Jessica tells him that she’s angry, Scott asks why his unsolicited comments about her theoretical rape offend her. He’s more concerned with coming across as a “good guy” than her feelings with some awkward dialogue about hearing the end of her story about Madame Web from the previous issue. Gaydos’ storytelling is deft as he goes from three intimate panels of Scott and Jessica in bed to quickly having her dress and leave while Scott has the same dumb expression on her face. And then he floods the next few pages with emotions as Jessica’s paranoia returns while she walks around her apartment. Alias is usually a wordy book, but Bendis lets Gaydos have a few almost silent pages to show Jessica drinking to deal with Scott being a terrible person (Carol calling about him doesn’t help.) and collect herself so she can find Mattie Franklin, who appears in a flashback.

The theme of sexism continues (and is called out directly by her) in Jessica’s day job as a bodyguard for Matt JessClubOutfitMurdock, who she respects and empathizes with because his secret identity was compromised without his consent. However, she does throw a little shade his way because he told Luke Cage his secret identity and not her. This is sexist in her opinion and in her own special way, she trolls him by never knocking on his door when she arrives for her bodyguard duties and smoking on his porch because he can sense her with his superpowers. It’s just a friendly reminder, and Matt and Jessica actually have a solid, professional relationship as shown in a Sorkin-esque walk and talk scene where she tells him about how Jameson is pressuring her to find Mattie. Matt promises to help with that situation by doing a “client harassment” call, and Jessica instantly repays the favor by warding off the press, who calls Jessica an “ex-superhero slash private investigator person.” Elevator pitch, much.

The sexism comes to a roaring crescendo towards the end of Alias #18 when Jessica uses gross men’s ideas of female beauty and sexuality to her advantage in getting inside Club 616. After a rude bouncer compares to a cast member of a sequel to The Crow, Jessica puts on makeup, lipstick, a crop top, and short skirt so she can get into the artificial world of the club and save Mattie. She understands the heterosexual male gaze, loathes it, but uses it so she can do the right thing. And her observations about the vapidness of Club 616 are right on point and relatable to any introvert. Hollingsworth creates a digital glare with his colors to simulate the noise of the club, and Gaydos’ art blends together so that the people look just like a clump with no individuals being distinct. And Bendis puts the finishing touches with his sharp as tack inner monologue for Jessica, who sums why noisy clubs are so annoying in one powerful sentence, “These people are the reason I never go anywhere remotely resembling any place like this.”

 

And then she goes to work mining the bathroom gossip until she finally gets close to Denny Haynes, an evil, wannabe power player, who only sees female superheroes as notches on a belt. We learn about this from Jessica’s chat with his younger sister, who said that he wanted to sleep with a superheroine because a Russian gangster named Ivan used to date Dazzler. (I wasn’t aware this disco themed superhero was ever involved in mob activities.) Also, Denny is more horrible in person as he pressures Jessica into joining his friends, who are doing drugs even when she wants to leave and wait by the entrance to grab Mattie. There is an air of menace about Denny and his private VIP lounge with Gaydos shading his eyes, and Hollingsworth using a purple palette as Denny kisses the barely conscious Mattie before basically smoking parts of her DNA.

JessHitstheClub

Gaydos shows the abominable nature of his activities, and how it affects Jessica by having the panels in the pages where MGH is being used wobble and break perspective. It’s your usual comics panel grid, but freakier. And it gets Jessica angry as she punches a guy with yellow eyes, who then knocks her out. Gaydos uses pitch black panels mixed with blurry ones and close-ups of Jessica’s bloody face to show what a bad state she’s in until she goes to the grey and brown of a New York alleyway to talk with a very angry and foulmouthed Ben Urich, who is justly angry at MGH and its users. He’s also a nice exposition fairy for readers, who haven’t read Daredevil and have no clue what MGH is.

MGHHellofaDrug

Sexism rears its ugly, thematic head one final time as police officers question Jessica about her injuries while she’s recovering in the hospital. Bendis and Gaydos break the fundamental “show, don’t tell” rule of storytelling, but there have already been two major interrogation sequences with Jessica and the police and perhaps they didn’t want to be redundant. And Bendis’ writing is colorful enough as Jessica heads to her department. She calls the cops “fucking power tripping mother fuckers”, who treated her like a little girl and shamed her for being out after dark. They are a part of rape culture, who think that because women walk in certain areas and wear certain things that they were “asking for it”. Jessica’s words lash out at this terrible, invisible, yet very real institution, and Bendis isn’t afraid to expose his male characters’ sexism and biases even the heroic ones like Scott Lang and Matt Murdock. The feminist ideals that pervade Alias #18 and #19 make it so much more than the middle chapters of a trade paperback-length storyline and add a layer of social commentary to Jessica’s own character arc.

But what makes “The Underneath” really work as a story arc so far is Jessica’s personal connection to Mattie Franklin as young female superheroes, who both had to experience horrible things. It’s like her relationship with Hope in the Jessica Jones TV show, but with arachnid themed costumes. She’s doing straight up heroic things, like fighting guys with mutant powers, following leads, and getting beat up and ending up in the hospital just because she genuinely cares about Mattie and doesn’t want yet another female superhero to be manipulated by evil men. But her methods are different from traditional superheroes, and she ends up in hot water with Jessica Drew, who also cares about Mattie and used to mentor her. It will be interesting to see the two ex-superheroes turned P.I.s who share the same name work out their differences and interact in the concluding issues of “The Underneath”.

Alias #18-19 explores casual sexism, objectification of women, and rape culture through Jessica Jones’ continued search for Mattie Franklin, which gets tense and dangerous when she’s in real physical danger for the first time in Alias. These issues also allow Matt Hollingsworth to go wild with his colors from a sultry blue for the club sequences to a threatening purple when Jessica fights the MGH users or a morning shadow for when Jessica shows up for her day of work Matt Murdock. And Brian Michael Bendis continues to write the hell out of Jessica Jones, who is empathy, misanthropy, sadness, paranoia, and sarcasm all rolled into one of the most human characters to inhabit the Marvel Universe.

Miles Morales Comes to the Marvel Universe in Spider-Man #1!

Welcome to the Marvel Universe Miles Morales, hope you survive the experience! That’s right, he’s here – and the Marvel Universe will never be the same again. Marvel presents your look inside Spider-Man #1 – the highly anticipated new series from blockbuster Miles Morales co-creators Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli!

Sure, he’s been doing the super hero thing for a while now, but following the events of Secret Wars, Miles finds himself a full-fledged member of the Marvel  U. Swinging next to Iron Man, Captain America and Thor as a member of the Avengers and patrolling the Big Apple’s rooftops as NYC’s own Spider-Man! But it’s not all fun and games. A lot has transpired in the eight months since Secret Wars and an entire new universe awaits him – friend and foe alike. Plus, his grades are in the toilet. The adventure begins this February!

SPIDER-MAN #1 (DEC150723)
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Art & Cover by SARA PICHELLI
Hip-Hop Variant by ADI GRANOV (DEC150724)
Variant Covers by MICHAEL CHO (DEC150725), SKOTTIE YOUNG (DEC150726), and MARK BAGLEY (DEC150727)
Blank Variant Also Available
FOC – 1/11/16, On-Sale – 2/03/16

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Investigating Alias #16-17

 alias_16_cover_marvel_february_2003Investigating Alias is a weekly issue by issue look at the source material that inspired the popular and critically acclaimed Jessica Jones Netflix show.

In this installment of Investigating Alias, I will be covering Alias #16-17 (2003) written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Michael Gaydos, and colored by Matt Hollingsworth.

Alias #16 starts a new story arc called “The Underneath” where Jessica Jones looks for Mattie Franklin, who stumbles around Jessica’s apartment in costume and then jumps out the window while cursing her out. Jessica is freaked out and spends the night at Scott Lang’s apartment, who she started dating last issue.There, she calls Agent Quartermain, her contact at SHIELD, who gives her grief for sleeping with Ant-Man and gives her information on Mattie’s whereabouts and known associates. The issue ends with Jessica confronting J. Jonah Jameson, who she had previously scammed out of money while he wanted her to find Spider-Man’s secret identity.

Alias #17 uses a non-linear narrative structure with Scott and Jessica starting to have sex, but they stop when Jessica tells him that she’s had a horrible day beginning with “J. Jonah Dickface”. (Scott’s words, not hers.) Writer Brian Michael Bendis bookends the story of her day with Jessica and Scott’s observations on these events and offers insight into their relationship while furthering the mystery plot and also hinting at her dark backstory. After Jessica tells J. Jonah Jameson being missing and asks about his relationship with the girl that he and his wife raised and cared for, he gets angry in his typical, superhero hating way and promises to destroy her if she doesn’t find Mattie.

She does some online digging and finds out she was connected to Jessica Drew, a more prosperous Marvel private investigator, who doesn’t pick up her call because she’s in Istanbul for the month. Then, Malcolm, who is much more annoying in the comic than the Jessica Jones TV show, bursts in and is his irritating self. However, Jessica is so desperate than she enlists his encyclopedic knowledge of superheroes and possible connection to help find her offering him a job if he finds any information on Mattie. Then, she meets the cryptic, telepathic, clairvoyant, and quite creepy Madame Web, who babbles about Mattie possibly meeting a horrible, violent end. The climax of the issue is Web reading Jessica’s mind without her permission and seeing her horrible past (Killgrave still isn’t mentioned by name.), which causes her to run out in anger. The comic ends with Jessica silently remembering.

The opening scene of Alias #16 where Jessica Jones thwarts a convenience story in a not very superheroic way. I read this scene as Bendis along with artist Michael Gaydos and colorist Matt Hollingsworth deconstructing his more straightforward superhero work on Ultimate Spider-Man with artist Mark Bagley. Whereas Spider-Man would have swung in on a double page splash page and had some kind of a Clerks joke at the ready, Jessica opens up by throwing shade on a women’s magazine and its obsession with thinness and pleasing men. The hold-up happens as she is reading, and it’s never in doubt that Jessica is going to help, but she saves the day in her own special way starting out by throwing a can of soup at the robber and then just tackling him while referring to Spider-Man’s jokes as “shit”. However, the situation almost gets more horrible when the clerk is about to shoot the robber, and Jessica has to talk him down. The little incident doesn’t end with the typical, “Yo *insert superhero name here*, you’re the greatest and New York loves you”, but with Jessica having to pay full price for cigarettes. There is a sad, yet all too true kind of realism in the worker’s ungratefulness.

JessSuperheroClerk

This sequence encapsulates both Jessica Jones and Alias’ relationship to the superhero genre. Sure, she’s cool with helping people as seen in her previous cases, including an assist to Captain America, but superheroes are both a nuisance and a stress to her. Gaydos and Hollingsworth do an excellent job showing the stress part by quickly cutting from Jessica to the robber and now gun-wielding clerk with a blood red background showing she’s barely in control of the situation to go along with rambling dialogue like “El speako Englisho.” Gaydos shows the chaos of the situation by losing his usual panel grid and jumbling panels together as Jessica tackles the robber and tries to get everything squared away before the police officers come. And her fear of the police isn’t the silly “They’ll reveal my secret identity.” reason, but that the fact that police officers held her in an interrogation room and accused her of murder in the first arc of Alias and she’s afraid that they’ll do a similar thing and ask her continuous questions about quitting her superhero gig. The mistrust is well-placed, but kind of bites her in the ass when she doesn’t go them when Mattie Franklin shows up in her apartment and goes missing.

Along with setting up the P.I. plot, Alias #16-17 examines the burgeoning relationship between Scott Lang and Jessica Jones. Even though he has a criminal past, Scott is a decent guy, who cares about Jessica and invites her over to stay at his apartment for her safety, not a booty call. In fact, he’s snoring on the couch while Jessica does some work on her laptop with his adorable Avengers mug and Ant-Man helmet on his kitchen table. It’s a nice moment of domestic tranquility while Jessica freaks out about the missing, mysterious superhero, who showed up at her apartment, cursed her out, and literally bounced off the walls outside her place. Scott and Jessica also share some fun, sarcastic banter like Scott letting Jessica stay because he want “future boyfriend points”. But most of their conversation is about more serious topics.

Scott is a pretty good listener and stops having sex with Jessica in Alias #17 when he realizes that something is the matter with her. (Gaydos does an excellent job differentiating between emotionally vacant and pleasured fill faces in this scene.) However, he can get a little judge-y at times like when he inserts a completely unnecessary “I told you so” when Jessica says she should’ve called the police about Mattie after being verbally threatened by J. Jonah Jameson and getting a preternaturally eerie phone call from Madame Web just before she was about to dial Web’s number. And maybe his being an ass about her choices in a difficult situation is why she is silent in the final pages of the issue.

ScottandJess

In Alias #17, Bendis thinks of something clever to do with the annoyance that is Malcolm. Malcolm is definitely a stand-in for teenage fanboys, who picked up Alias for its sex, use of “fuck”, and perceived edginess instead of Hollingsworth’s noir color palette, Gaydos’ ability to convey fear, paranoia, and negative feelings through facial expressions and switch-ups in panel layouts, and Bendis’ ear for dialogue. He is just plain mean and makes fun of Captain America for revealing his secret identity and calls Daredevil a “pussy” for suing the tabloid that outed him as Matt Murdock in some kind of insane, proto-hipster way of telling Jessica that she’s cool for going public with her superhero identity way before them. But instead of throwing him through a plate glass window, but with her sass firmly intact, Jessica puts Malcolm the “geekboy” to work trying to find evidence on Mattie Franklin. And she gets to throw him the mother of all side eye when he asks for a cell phone to go with his purely theoretical part time job. Malcolm doesn’t get the robust manipulated addict to altruistic helper arc that the Malcolm played by Eka Darville in Jessica Jones did, but at least, he’s slightly useful to the plot in this issue instead of just being target practice for Jessica’s snark.

Jessica’s meeting with Madame Web towards the conclusion of Alias #17 is one of the most emotionally draining scenes in the series up to this point. Gaydos is an artist who conveys feeling through the eyes so he makes Web a character divorced from it by showing her either wreathed in shadow or just a panel of her glasses for close-ups. However, she isn’t completely removed from empathy and bows her head when she talks about seeing Jessica’s past while saying, “I’m so sorry.” This is the first straightforward thing she’s said in the comic, and her dialogue up to that point reads like possible ways this story arc could be concluded as Bendis doesn’t want to give away anything major at this point in the game. And then she does something that Killgrave did years ago (and we’ll learn more about later) and reads Jessica’s mind without her consent earning a well-deserved earful of anger from Jessica.

FuckYouMadameWeb

Telepathy and mind control has been one of the most problematic elements in both superhero and science fiction from Obi Wan Kenobi using it to get past a Stormtrooper in Star Wars to Professor X’s shenanigans in various eras of X-Men comics to Ms. Marvel being brainwashed, raped, and impregnated in 1980’s Avengers #200. I believe that reading someone’s mind without their permission is the psychic equivalent of rape because it’s a violation of consent and should be treated as such in sci-fi and superhero stories. Bendis handles it pretty well in Alias #17 by having Jessica tell Madame Web what she did was wrong in her signature foulmouthed way. Again, Gaydos goes away from the grid and uses big slashing style panel layouts to go along with Jessica’s accusatory gestures and Hollingsworth’s red and black palette. I don’t know much about Madame Web beyond the fact that she was extremely weird in the 1990s Spider-Man and Spider-Man Unlimited cartoons, but she comes across as a character, who lacks any kind of moral compass and idea of consequences. And she triggers memories of Jessica’s past that she would rather keep buried down deep as seen in the dark grey coloring of the final pages of the issue as she lays in bed.

Alias #16-17 opens with an exploration into Jessica Jones and Alias’ relationship with the superhero genre showing that it encroaches upon Jessica’s goal of just moving on with her life and job as a private investigator and also looks at her partially sweet and empathetic and partially strained relationship with Scott Lang as she tracks down D-List teen hero Mattie Franklin, the third Spider-Woman. Brian Michael Bendis’ writing, Michael Gaydos’ art, and Matt Hollingsworth’s colors are full of emotion as Jessica battles the pressure of J. Jonah Jameson accusing her of ripping him off in this situation along with being forced to relive past trauma when Madame Web reads her mind without consent. Jessica is really in a dark, lonely place by the end of Alias #17 even though she’s in bed with Scott Lang.

 

 

“The War Machines” Starts Now! Your First Look at Invincible Iron Man #6!

Strap in, suit up and hold on, because the second arc of the flagship Marvel title starts here! Today, Marvel is please to present your first look inside Invincible Iron Man #6 – the explosive first chapter of “The War Machines”! Creators Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato unite to bring you the next chapter in Tony Stark’s life.

All is not right within the house of Stark as he uncovers threats from within and threats from without. Now, he must delve into the nooks and crannies of his international organization to discover the truth. And he’s bringing a friend: James “Rhodey” Rhodes – the War Machine! Plus, the first big clues to 2016’s CIVIL WAR II begin here! Don’t miss the kickoff to the exciting new storyline and a perfect jumping on point.

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #6 (DEC150718)
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Art & Cover by MIKE DEODATO
Variant Cover by MICHAEL CHO (DEC150719)
Classic Variant by NEAL ADAMS (DEC150720)
Young Variant by SKOTTIE YOUNG (DEC150721)
Story Thus Far Variant by JULIAN TOTINO TEDESCO (DEC150722)
FOC – 1/11/16, On-Sale – 02/03/16

Invincible_Iron_Man_6_Cover

Check out the Cancelled Avengers First Person Action Game

Unseen64 has some interesting history about the cancelled The Avengers first person action game from THQ that was to be released for the Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and Wii U. The game would have loosely followed the Secret Invasion storyline, and was being written by Brian Michael Bendis. It was to be released to tie in to The Avengers film.

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