Comics – Alias Vol 1

4 03 2007

Alias TPB Vol 1 Originally uploaded by swftoys. Alias Vol 1 – Collecting Alias #1 – 9 (2002)

This is really a Marvel Omnibus Alias that I have as a bedside reading material. Being an Omnibus, it is… huge – the entire excellent Alias series is collected here. And it will take a while to finish it. As such, I’ve broken my blog entries for Alias into its original trade volumes for easy writing.

The main reasons for picking up this series were…

  • this is a work from Brian Michael Bendis
  • there were many rave reviews for this series
  • it’s the first title on Marvel’s MAX imprint

Alerted by his excellent work in a run of the Daredevil title, I was scouring the Internet for other comic titles that Brian Michael Bendis had a hand in. And it turned out that almost synonymous to his name is a series from Marvel’s MAX imprint called Alias. In fact, Alias was the title that launched MAX. Being a title out of MAX meant that explicit and adult-themed content was to be expected.

And true to its nature, the first word off the first page of #1 was the F-word. And it was not a mild rendition of it, it was an exclamation. The lead character of the series, Jessica Jones, was not the one to exclaim it. Rather it was her unhappy client who is moments away from being taught a lesson in respecting even ex-superheroes. Did I hear ex-superheroes? Yes, Jessica Jones is an ex-superhero who had shed her spandex for good and pursued a new career as a private investigator.

The premise for the Alias series is refreshing and Bendis did a great job to conceive a story like this. Jessica Jones is a former Avenger who ‘was always there’ in the Marvel universe as a superhero called Jewel. However, she did not receive as much fanfare as the other more famous Avengers because it was deemed that her powers were unremarkable. In fact, she still has problem controlling them. I felt that this was a good loose thread as it is possible that the full extent of her powers has yet to be uncovered.

Settling into her private detective job in her own agency, Alias Investigations, she is portrayed as an ordinary human who has to use more normal means to get her job done. It’s not that she purposely did that like Clark had to make a point to look dumb. I guess her belief in being a lesser mutant has made her take the position of a human-who-has-some-mutant-powers. As such, she hardly uses her powers unless it is called for (such as handling abusive clients and roughnecks out in the field).

The reader could feel the ordinary and un-superhero state she is in. Her agency operates out of a normal office space. Nothing like the high tech stuff found in the Avengers Mansion. Jessica Jones frets over bills and payments from clients. She smokes, drinks and has occasional one night stands. Hardly the usual role model image those lawful good superheroes have. There were moments in Alias that reminded me of Kurt Busiek’s Astro City where the reader joins the lead character in looking at the superhero world from the outside.

Alias Volume 1 sees Jessica Jones accepting a job from a mysterious woman which led to a conspiracy involving Captain America and the high-ups in the U.S Government. Jones is caught up in all this mess as a dispensible pawn for the powerful.

Artwork by Michael Gaydos is perfect for humanising this former superhero. The portrayal of Jones deviates from the usual supermodel looks female superheroes usually have. She neither possesses an hour glass figure nor stunning looks. Here, the visuals admirably carry the premise that she is pretty messed up, depressive and lost.

If you are looking for your first MAX title, Alias is probably a good bet. And we are just talking about Volume 1.

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