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Pulp Corner: Alias Vol. 1

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Every once in a while you’ll read something that just seems perfectly tailored to your tastes and interests. Since I seemed to been having such gold luck with Brian Michael Bendis lately I thought I’d check out his series Alias. It turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.

The story centers on Jessica Jones, a former super hero who has become a private investigator. She’s washed up and angry. Desperation and hard living had made her callous and beaten her down. I always liked the idea of seeing things from a non-costumed or “heroes” perspective in a world that’s full of them. This is one of the reasons that made the Marvels miniseries so successful. What we get here is basically film noir done Marvel style (and no, not that thankfully). It’s a hell of an idea.

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The first story arc starts very similar to the Maltese Falcon and we see a mysterious lady come into Jessica’s office in need of some help locating her sister who has met a new man and seemingly disappeared. Jessica is eventually able to locate her and video tapes her with her new man. Jessica’s shocked when that the man turns out to be none other than Steve Rogers and she actually records him changing into Captain America. Panicked at what she stumbled upon, Jessica leaves to contact the woman who hired her. Turns out both her phone number and address were a fake. Not knowing what to do, she attempts to return to the location she caught on tape only to find it’s a crime scene. The “missing” sister was strangled to death by a man of a considerable build and Jessica’s sitting on the evidence that would convict Captain America.

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Jessica wades through the lies and deception (which is genuinely an interesting mystery) while trying to come to grips with her former life as a hero. One of the main themes of the storyline consists of what it takes to be a hero. Are you born with it or is it something you can earn? Some of the best scenes involve her reconnecting with former friend and teammate Carol Danvers aka Ms. Marvel.

The second arc, while not as good as the first is still an interesting read. The wife of eternal Marvel Universe sidekick, Rick Jones reports him missing and acquires Jessica’s services to locate him. Bendis’ portrayl of Rick Jones here is fantastic. He comes off as a 21st Century media loving whore, writing a tell all book, telling stories to crowds in Central Park and always performing concerts. Anything for a chance to promote himself.

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The Marvel universe is an interesting place with a seedy underbelly and it’s nice to see it from a normal perspective. Being under the Marvel Max imprint allows Bendis’ slice of life style writing to really shine and be laced full of expletives. Michael Gaydos’ art fits the bill, not as gritty and dark as Bendis & Maleev’s Daredevil run but it gets the job done. He draws Jessica in a way that reminded me of a young Carrie Fisher and that’s never a bad thing. He has a way of framing the panels when Jessica is listening to her client’s stories that kills me.

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Alias isn’t The Shadow but with homages to Chinatown, The Maltese Falcon and Jessica possibly rocking the sunglasses Cary Grant wears in North By Northwest you know it’s at least coming from the right place. Bendis had originally intended for this series to be about Jessica Drew which would have made a lot of sense. You can even see traces of that in his Spider-Woman series. Marvel wouldn’t allow it, so he had to create a new Jessica which opened up some more freedom for him. Either way Alias is an interesting book with a cool take on the Marvel U. Well worth your time, energy and money.

It gets Biff’s Seal Of Approval.

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About Biff Tannen

Film Noir, Pulp, Comic Books and Hitchcock.

Posted on August 29, 2013, in COMICS!, Features, Pulp Corner, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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