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Alias #22 By Matt Martin
Marvel Comics/MAX Ė Brian Michael Bendis (w); Michael Gaydos (a)
This is a simple book to summarize.
Remember how in Forrest Gump, our simple hero was at least present, if not responsible, for a large number of the major events of the latter half of the 20th century? Thatís basically what happens in this issue of Alias, a book that normally reads as a remarkably smooth synthesis of the detective novel and comic book superheroics.
A quick synopsis for the uninitiated:
Jessica Jones makes her living as a private investigator, the owner and operator of Alias Investigations. For a not-inconsequential portion of her life, she operated as a member of the Avengers, though the exact nature of her powers was never clearly defined. For that matter, neither were the specific reasons for her choice to retire from the lifestyle of a spandex-clad vigilante. And lastly, possibly most importantly, the book has lasted almost two entire years without anything even resembling an origin sequence.
Well, that all ends now. Or, at least, some of that ends now, because for the next two issues, Bendis is treating his readers to The Secret Origin of Jessica Jones.
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Essentially, this entire issue is devoted to a singular Silver Age theme, including the art by Gaydos, doing his best to ape the visual stylings of Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. It opens with young Jessica Cambellís teenage years, including her schoolyard crush on infamous wallflower Peter Parker. Following Parker to a demonstration on nuclear power, she plans to make her move for the introvertís affections, but is thrown off course when he abruptly races from the building. Feeling dejected, she walks out of the high school, only to narrowly avoid being run over by a speeding truck, itself carrying a payload of unstable radioactive isotopes. At home, at night, in the solitude of her bedroom, she fantasizes about the smiling visage of Johnny Storm, his image plastered on her walls along with the usual menagerie of pop stars and teen idols. Following an auto accident during a family vacation, Jessica gazes out her hospital window to see chaos atop the Baxter Building, with the object of her affections battling alongside his famous family a cosmic giant.
Itís a quiet sort of issue. Her actual superhero origin sequence happens abruptly (as it should, since itís an accident), ending seemingly before itís started. Instead, Bendis focuses on the girl that Jessica used to be, quiet and withdrawn, a character portrait made all the more powerful by the caustic, jaded individual that we know she becomes. As well, itís both clever and amusing to see Bendis work his character into Marvelís continuity. In a way, it explains why no one would have heard of her prior to this book: sheís always sort of stayed in the background, never taken center stage at any phase of her life.
So just do yourself a favor and pick up the book. If youíve never read Alias before, now might be a good time to start (and, on top of that, there are two reasonably priced trade paperbacks already out and a third on the way).