Sunday 31 December 2017

#CBR9 Book 124: "Jessica Jones: Alias, vol 1" by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos

Page count: 216 pages
Rating: 4 stars

From the blurb:

Meet Jessica Jones. Once upon a time, she was a costumed superhero...but not a very good one. Her powers were unremarkable compared to the costumed icons that populate the Marvel Universe. In a city of Marvels, Jessica Jones never found her niche.

Now a chain-smoking, self-destructive alcoholic with a mean inferiority complex, Jones is the owner and sole employee of Alias Investigations - a small, private-investigative firm specialising in superhuman cases. When she uncovers the potentially explosive secret of one hero's true identity, Jessica's life immediately becomes expendable. But her wit, charm and intelligence may just help her survive another day. 

Back when this comic came out in 2001, it was called Alias. I can only assume that the new title, adding Jessica's name, was done after the premiere and success of the Netflix series from 2015 (was it really that long ago already?), to allow new readers to more easily find their way to the comic. Ironically, of course, the show had to be called Jessica Jones as there was already an action show starring a female character out there called Alias. This book was a Christmas present from my husband last year, because of all of the Marvel TV shows with their many cool characters, Jessica Jones is probably my favourite, and he wanted me to be able to read the comics the show was based on.

For those who have watched the show, the character we meet in the pages of this book will be very familiar, even if the two cases she works on over the course of the nine issues collected here are different. Jessica is a loner, she's bitter, sarcastic, self-destructive and mean. She doesn't particularly enjoy her job, but needs to pay the bills somehow. She smokes, drinks too much and swears a lot. While she has a very suspicious nature, she is still fooled by a crying woman coming to her for help. It turns out that the case she's hired for, locating a missing woman, is in fact a ploy to potentially unmask a very famous superhero (and get him implicated in a murder case). The whole plot seems to be set in motion to discredit the current president. Jessica is none too pleased about being used, but refuses to provide a proper alibi for herself by releasing the tape she has proving her whereabouts when the missing woman she was hired to locate turned up dead (but which will also reveal the hero in question's identity).

For Jessica's second case over the course of the book, a distraught woman shows up at Jessica's office trying to locate her husband, Rick Jones, who she claims is somehow related to Jessica (this is news to our heroine) and a former superhero sidekick who may now be in terrible danger. While she's unsure of how wise it is to get involved, Jessica nevertheless takes the case.

While I really enjoyed and read through all nine issues of this book very quickly, I especially miss some of the supporting characters from the Netflix show in this book. There is no Trish here, Malcolm is basically an over-eager fan who pops up in Jessica's office occasionally and asks to be allowed to be her assistant, and Luke Cage only makes a brief (but rather memorable appearance).

I know that a lot of things only borrow loosely from their source material, and I suspect that much of what ended up on the TV show will happen later in the comics. In 2018, I clearly need to get further trades of Alias to see where the stories become more similar.

Judging a book by its cover: Since I watched the Netflix series first, in my head, Jessica Jones looks like Krysten Ritter. But you know, I guess the original artist gets to decide what she looks like to the creators. Can't really argue with it. It's not the most thrilling of covers. I'm not sure it would make me pick up the book unless I was already interested.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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