Nov 04 2019

From Page To Screen: Alias Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos

I came to this title from Powers, back when I was still actively collecting comic books in the earliest years of the 21st century. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t really understand it. Yes, I thought it was groundbreaking that Marvel Comics was finally releasing R-rated comics, years after the success of DC’s Vertigo line had proven that such could be critically and commercially successful without diluting the publisher’s mainstream brands. And while I enjoyed what Brian Michael Bendis was doing with Michael Avon Oeming over on Powers, I didn’t really understand what he was saying there either (I’m pretty sure it was Mr Bendis’ work on Ultimate Spiderman that finally clicked with me narratively.)

Alias Vol 1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael GaydosSo when Netflix and Marvel released Jessica Jones, I thought fondly back on my experience with the comic book that had birthed her, even as I didn’t let it color my impression of the show. Which is a totally fine TV show, btw. The first season is definitely its best, but I’m still mad as hell about how they ruined one of my favorite comicbook characters in the second onward: fortunately, this is hardly a canon depiction (I hope.) Anyway, I knew I had this volume locked up safely from my children’s destructive impulses in my office, and only dug it out the other day to loan to the neighbor across the street. Of course, I decided I needed to refresh myself of the contents first.

I don’t know what it is about the ensuing fifteen years but, after my re-read, I finally understand why Jessica didn’t want to be a superhero. The final pages, where Jessica is so happy at finding someone who understands her, actually make sense to me now. Perhaps when I was younger, when I was single and before I became a mom, it was unfathomable to me that anyone wouldn’t want to be a hero. And I don’t mean that to say that you shouldn’t aim to be your best self, and a good, courageous person who fights for justice, but you don’t need to do that in the spotlight, constantly pitting yourself against cosmic powers beyond your comprehension. Not everyone is cut out for that, and that’s okay. It’s okay to just be an everyday hero, and not someone who has to risk their life saving the world as a matter of course.

Michael Gaydos’ art also holds up really well, even as it constantly astonishes me how Jamie Neumann, the actress who plays Brianna in the third season, is a dead ringer for Jessica Jones’ comic book depiction. I love Krysten Ritter but I come from watching her in romantic comedies and Don’t Trust The B– In Apt 23. She does a great job as Jessica but I also wouldn’t mind seeing someone less ethereally pretty in the role. Also, she so rarely gets to show off her comedic chops as Jessica that it seems almost a waste of her talents. Rumor has it she’ll be reprising the role in the upcoming Disney+ streaming service, continuing to diverge from canon, I imagine (tho, man, I cannot wait for her and Luke Cage to get back together again!)

Anyway, this is a really terrific look at the other side of being a superhero, the side that just wants to be normal but doesn’t really know how to cope. I enjoyed it a lot, coming back to it after fifteen or so years, more so than the TV show to be honest. Perhaps I’ll change my mind about that media in another fifteen. For now, I’ll just appreciate the comics a little more than I did before.

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