Shiny Shelf

Alias #28

By Mark Clapham on 10 November 2003

When ‘Alias’ launched a couple of years ago, I wasn’t terribly impressed. From the first few issues it seemed little more than a ‘Powers’-lite, set in the Marvel universe with a female protagonist. The ‘adult’ elements seemed tawdry and predictable and the art little more than Vertigo pastiche. I gave up after the first story arc.

So, I’m an idiot – what are you, perfect?

Anyway, a year passed, and I kept being told that ‘Alias’ had become one of the best book’s Marvel put out. More than that, it was one of the best comics being published today. So I gave the book another spin, and this time I got it. Filling in the gap with half-a-dozen back issues, I found that the series had grown from its rather modest first storyline, that it had become wittier and smarter, gaining the confidence to use its unique position as an in-continuity Max book to take an alternative look at the Marvel universe. The last year of ‘Alias’ in particular has been stunning, giving lead character Jessica Jones an origin that weaves in and out of classic Marvel comics and in the current, final, arc, revealing the secret that ended Jessica’s superheroine career.

#28 is the last instalment of the ‘Purple’ storyline and the final issue of ‘Alias’, which is ending to make way for a non-Max series starring Jessica Jones, ‘The Pulse’. The main threat, Killgrave the Purple Man, is dealt with in a typically straightforward, non-bombastic way, and a lot of Jessica’s personal issues are resolved. The move away from the mature readers label is wisely timed – writer Brian Michael Bendis has done all he can within that framework, contrasting the bleak life of the screwed up, hard-swearing Jessica Jones with the dayglo world of superheroes. Now Jessica’s life is lightening up, and the need for the more mature stuff is over.

Besides, Bendis has done enough ‘Jessica swears in front of Peter Parker/Captain America/Thor’ gags, so we don’t need any more for now.

‘Alias’ #28 is a very clever comic, dipping into post-modern, Morrison-era ‘Animal Man’ type territory and then emerging back into a more sincere narrative. The ending has a couple of surprises that are entirely welcome. Of course, there’s no point in non-readers picking up the book at this stage, but the trade paperbacks are well worth a look for newcomers. ‘Alias’ has been one of those rare, self-contained comics series that can be read and enjoyed on its own. It’s a great series, and a genuine keeper among the disposable ranks of most comic books.

Readers new and old can then rejoin Jessica Jones early in 2004 for the first issue of ‘The Pulse’. If it’s anywhere as good as ‘Alias’, it’ll be an essential read.

Just don’t expect me to appreciate that at first.

Click on these lovely links to buy the first, second and third volumes of ‘Alias’ from Amazon.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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