Archive for July, 2010

Alias #22

July 31, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
July 2003
*****
Finally: the Tragic Origin of Jessica Jones! As always, Alias lies on Marvel’s margins, but here Bendis weaves Jess into the Silver Age. The deftest touch is her wallflower crush on Peter Parker in Amazing Fantasy #15! Gaydos does an homage to the era’s style, but he’s closer to Allred than Romita.
[last issue: Alias #21]
[next issue: Alias #23]

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Alias #21

July 30, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos & Mark Bagley
June 2003
****
Bendis’ trafficking arc (kinda partners to his Owl arc in DD) wraps up w/ a burst of action—Speedball bubbles!—& Kid Spider-Woman’s rescue. It also teases at Jones’ traumatic history by alluding to a similar victimization & a dream-fight w/ the Defenders. Gaydos gets trad w/ a 3×3 grid on 1 page!
[last issue: Alias #20]
[next issue: Alias #22]

Alias #20

July 28, 2010

David MackBrian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
May 2003
****
Part 5 of a dark sex- & drug-trafficking arc punctuates the liberal feminist theme. Jess teams up w/ PI namesake Jessica Drew (AKA the original Spider-Woman), who acts like a kick-ass gal out of a Tarantino flick. But then, Alias has always felt like an early ’80s Claremont comic (see also Ms. Marvel).
[last issue: Alias #19]
[next issue: Alias #21]

Alias #19

July 26, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
April 2003
*****
Spider-Woman is a narco-slave to a sleaze who’s freebasing her super-blood. It’s drug- & sex-trafficking as parasitism in a superhero idiom, dark as a Frank Miller noir but w/o the sensationalism. Adding to the tone, Jess fails to rescue the girl & (in a superb, expressionistic set of pages) gets slipped a mickey.
[last issue: Alias #18]
[next issue: Alias #20]

Alias #18

July 24, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
March 2003
****
Hard-boiled, complex, & disturbing to boot: the theme is sexual exploitation. We see Jess glam herself up (ironically) to get into a club. There she finds Kid Spider-Woman, strung out & maybe hooking for a true scumbag. On some as-yet-unexplained thematic level, it ties into Jess’ own backstory…
[last issue: Alias #17]
[next issue: Alias #19]

Alias #17

July 23, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
February 2003
****
Tight, ugly noir as Jess slouches thru rainy NYC looking for the 3rd Spider-Woman (another screwed-up teen). It’s the slow part of this arc, so she’s got no leads except for the prophecies of Madame Web (who?). The psychic oracle triggers a freak-out, teasing at the reasons for Jess’ damaged psyche.
[last issue: Alias #16]
[next issue: Alias #18]

Alias #16

July 22, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
January 2003
****
A case comes in thru Jess Jones’ window, as she comes home from foiling a stick-up to find one-time Spider-Woman (more like a girl—& how nice is it to see a physical diff. btw. women & girls in a comic!) powdering her nose. A couple beats w/ Scott Lang & Jess’ pal at SHIELD add quality to the issue.
[last issue: Alias #15]
[next issue: Alias #17]

Alias #15

July 21, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
December 2002
*****
Between arcs, this issue cleaves nicely into two convos w/ sexual partners, showcasing BMB’s skill at badinage. First, Jess Jones has teamed up w/ Luke Cage to guard Matt Murdock (see DD #36), & hashes out their hook-up on duty. Then Jess lets her guard down on a date w/ former Ant-Man Scott Lang.
[last issue: Alias #14]
[next issue: Alias #16]

Alias #14

July 20, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
November 2002
****
A masterful setpiece anchors the issue, 7 pages of a teen runaway’s tirade against conformity, w/ Gaydos’ facial expressions adding actorly nuance to Bendis’ expressive script. Add an intro on moral ambiguity & you get a quality conclusion to Alias‘ trad liberal arc about American intolerance.
[last issue: Alias #13]
[next issue: Alias #15]

Alias #13

July 19, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
October 2002
****
The creators put so much care into Jess Jones’ interviews w/ small-town bigwigs, they bring classic American bigotry to life thru the individual portraits. Even tho’ the tale is pretty conventional, it reminds you how potent Stan & Jack’s ‘mutants as outcasts’ metaphor remains even 40 years later.
[last issue: Alias #12]
[next issue: Alias #14]

Alias #12

July 18, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos, David Mack & Mark Bagley
September 2002
*****

A wealth of diverse art adds depth, as Bagley pencils a flashback to Jess Jones’ uncynical youth & Mack uses cut-up montage to bring the missing teen to life. Contrast Bendis’ take on Claremont’s mutant racism w/ contempo Morrison: soft bigotry & casual ignorance v. urban/glam progressivism.

last issue: Alias #11
next issue: Alias #13

also indexed for Sept. ’02
Alias #11
Avengers #56
New X-Men #129

Alias #11

July 17, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
September 2002
****

Bendis runs the changes on a trad PI procedural as he sends his heroine to investigate a teen’s disappearance upstate. The twist is predictable (ignorant local students harassed her for being a mutant) but the sense of place is vivid. Partly that’s the book’s colorist, FYI, Matt Hollingsworth.

last issue: Alias #10
next issue: Alias #12

also indexed for Sept. ’02
Alias #12
Avengers #56
New X-Men #129

Alias #10

July 16, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
August 2002
***

In this one-off, Jess scams J. Jonah Jameson when she’s hired to unmask Spider-Man thru PI work. More of a script w/ pictures than a comic book (all full-page watercolor stills w/ dialogue in the margins), its dullness shows how much Gaydos’ over-the-shoulder photorealism & singular layouts add.

last issue: Alias #9
next issue: Alias #11

also indexed for Aug. ’02
Avengers #55
New X-Men #127
New X-Men #128

Alias #9

July 15, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
July 2002
*****

Dramatic dialogue underpins the A-1 character work here. A shrink’s descrip of superhero envy is esp. clever, the way it reflects Jess, Rick, & “Rick” Jones. By the way, an excellent rug-pull when, after she’s confided in him, Jess learns that the kid isn’t actually Rick J. but a pathological liar.

last issue: Alias #8
next issue: Alias #10

also indexed for Jul. 02
Avengers #54
New X-Men #126

Alias #8

July 14, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos & Bill Sienkiewicz
June 2002
****
Bendis sets up perennial sidekick Rick Jones to mirror Jessica: a skittish loner, alienated by a lifetime of superheroics. A visit to the FF HQ also implies a hierarchy of super-haves & have-nots. Plus, dig Sienk’s “photo” excerpts of Rick’s autobio, ironically less realistic than Gaydos’ art.

last issue: Alias #7
next issue: Alias #9

also indexed for Jun. ’02
Avengers #53
New X-Men #125

Alias #7

July 13, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos & Bill Sienkiewicz
May 2002
****

Part of this book’s quality is in its cinematic realism: “long takes” & slow zooms on talking heads. Alias sinks its foundations deep into the Marvel U. w/ Jess Jones’ investigation into namesake Rick Jones (of the Kree-Skrull War), which includes Watchmen-like excerpts of the sidekick’s autobio.

last issue: Alias #6
next issue: Alias #8

also indexed for May ’02
Avengers #52
New X-Men #124

Alias #6

July 12, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
April 2002
****

Marvel earns cred for setting Alias at the periphery of its mainstream ‘verse. At an interlude btw. arcs, this so-called life of a PI adds a ’00s gloss to the ’80s paradigm of ‘superheroics = twisted kink’. It’s not all S/M & Nietzschean idolatry, it’s celeb worship by lonely gals & horndog teens.

last issue: Alias #5
next issue: Alias #7

also indexed for Apr. ’02
Avengers #51
New X-Men #123

Alias #5

July 11, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
March 2002
*****

The mag’s first villain is a powerbroker who aims to unseat a president (a salutary reminder of the ’99 impeachment). PI Jones refuses to give up Captain America’s secret ID, an ethical choice (in Marvel’s world anyhow) that defines her heroism & ends her isolation. How ’bout that: a plot w/ an arc!

next issue: Alias #4
next issue: Alias #6

also indexed for Mar. ’02
Avengers #50
New X-Men #122

Alias #4

July 10, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
February 2002
****

Gaydos’ palate reminds you that he & Bendis have jettisoned even the trappings of caped comics: the book’s first glimpse of superpowers (4 issues in) is brief & unshowy. Plotwise, BMB lifts liberally from Chinatown as his heroine s-l-o-w-l-y finds her way into a conspiracy around a nat’l politician.

last issue: Alias #3
next issue: Alias #5

also indexed for Feb. ’02
Avengers #49
New X-Men #121

Alias #3

July 9, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
January 2002
*****

Bendis writes dramatic scenes, w/ arcs, subtext & character. It’s a pleasure to read, esp. w/ Gaydos’ funky pace & inky art. A cop grills Jones for half the ish, more curious about her superhero retirement than his murder case. It exposes the compelling hole in Jones’ life where superheroics once fit.

last issue: Alias #2
next issue: Alias #4

also indexed for Jan. ’02
Avengers #48
New X-Men #120

Alias #2

July 8, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
December 2001
*****

PI Jones has stumbled onto Captain America’s secret ID: she’s the patsy in a superpower crime thriller & she can’t make out the plot. Bendis gets acclaim for his dialogue, but it’s the pauses that land harder. Gaydos’ expressionist layouts reinforce that pacing to put us right up in Jones’ psyche.

last issue: Alias #1
next issue: Alias #3

also indexed for Dec. ’01
Avengers #47
New X-Men #119

Alias #1

July 7, 2010

Brian Michael Bendis // Michael Gaydos
November 2001
*****

More hard-boiled than any Marvel comic since Miller’s Daredevil, Alias launches the MAX imprint w/ raw art, profanity, & drunken, doggy-style sex. Jessica Jones has retired her spandex for a PI’s office, but her milieu is the underbelly of the superhero world—secret IDs, mutant adultery, etc.

next issue: Alias #2

also indexed for Nov. ’01
Avengers #46
Avengers: The Ultron Imperative
New X-Men #118

Daredevil #191

July 6, 2010

Frank Miller
February 1983
*****

The code to Miller’s groundbreaking work on Daredevil is also an ambiguous musing on the concept of vigilantism & a farewell to comics as kiddie fun. Brooding DD plays an impotent game of Russian roulette w/ paralyzed arch-foe Bullseye while relating his failure to save a kid’s psyche.

last issue: Daredevil #190
next issue: Daredevil #192

also indexed for Feb. ’83
The Fantastic Four #251

Daredevil #190

July 5, 2010

Frank Miller
January 1983
*****

An epic finish to Miller’s run! First we get Elektra’s backstory: ninja training & a wounded soul. Then it’s a thrilling battle royale to stop her zombie resurrection! (It fails … or does it!?) To stop the ceremony, DD allies himself w/ the Kingpin. It’s comic-book heaven. The way’s open for Elektra spin-offs—esp. cuz she’s been magically “purged” of her demons (her outfit’s now white).

last issue: Daredevil #189
next issue: Daredevil #191

also indexed for Jan. ’83
The Fantastic Four #250

Daredevil #189

July 3, 2010

Frank Miller
*****
December 1982

Stupendous, albeit rushed art. The front half is FM’s best brawl yet, a silent duel btw. the evil ninjas & DD’s new allies. Plus, Eastern ideas (moving chi & such) adds a mystical cast to all the sacrifice & resurrection. Then, in a dramatic turn, Foggy & the Widow conspire to end Matt’s engagement!

last issue: Daredevil #188]
[next issue: Daredevil #190]

also indexed for Dec. ’82
The Fantastic Four #249

Daredevil #188

July 2, 2010

Frank Miller
November 1982
****

A pedestrian ish (for Miller & co., at least): regular panels, not much plot movement. The Black Widow is disintegrating like an evil ninja, so she seeks Matt across his subplots. But he’s in isolation, training his hypersenses w/ his sensei, who leads a team of white ninjas against the red ones.

last issue: Daredevil #187
next issue: Daredevil #189

also indexed for Nov. ’82
The Fantastic Four #248

Daredevil #187

July 1, 2010

Frank Miller // Klaus Janson
October 1982
*****

Ninjas are raising the dead, Black Widow’s on their trail, & DD’s hypersenses are haywire! Matt’s drafted by his blind mentor (from #1767) to join his cabal of adepts. Miller resumes his strong epic, packing in A-1 fight choreography & mystic setpieces like the bruiser ninja’s resurrection.

last issue: Daredevil #186
next issue: Daredevil #188

also indexed for Oct. ’82
The Fantastic Four #247