Friday, May 25, 2007

Just Read: Alias, Vol. 4 by Bendis & Gaydos

The full title is Alias, Vol. 4: The Secret Origins of Jessica Jones, for those playing at home. And I read it nearly a week ago, but life has been Interesting (in the sense coined by Eric Frank Russell, not some unknown ancient Chinese guy) since then, so only now do I have a moment to spare.

(For those completely lost, but who somehow still care, here are my takes on the first three books in the series: one two three.)

This, sad to say, collects the end of the Alias comics series, in which All Is Revealed, Jessica Jones has several Big Moments, and we see a bunch of people with their underwear on the outside doing the punchy-punchy thing. It's somewhat more conventional Marvel Comics stuff than the first three collections, and Jessica gets to save the day in the end (go her).

There's also, I'm very sorry to say, a bit of metafiction that reads as if Bendis had just re-read Grant Morrison's famous run on Animal Man and decided to nick a few ideas. It barely works at all; it elicited cringes in this reader.

Well, I should probably explain a bit more. The title is "The Secret Origins of Jessica Jones," so we get both the story of How She Got Her Powers (the usual Marvel Universe accident with mutagenic stuff, involving the death of close relatives) and the one about Why She Gave Up Superheroing to be a PI. Naturally, since in the MU superheroing is the only reasonable thing for a person with powers to do, she quit because she was Damaged, and, over the course of the story, she learns, sort of, to heal herself and get back at the man who done her wrong.

There are lots of little things that work in this volume, but the big things mostly didn't work for me. I know the big-league fan types get more emotionally involved when the long-underwear crowd shows up, but it's the opposite for me; they're empty icons rather than human beings to me, and I really don't care what they do or say, since they'll be doing and saying completely different things as soon as the fashion changes. And so, when they show up in force, for me it's just, "Oh, them again." I prefer my small-scale dramas when they stay small-scale, and this one doesn't.

On the other hand, the series does end well, and ends cleanly, which is not common. And the dialogue (except when the Purple Man appears and slimes up the works) is still quite good. This is still much more to my taste than most comics with super-powered people in them, but less so than the first three volumes. You just can't win them all.