Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Alias Omnibus Hardcover Review

Alias Omnibus
Marvel Comics
Oversized Hardcover
672 pages
$69.99 (2006)
ISBN 9780785121213

Contributors: Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, David Mack, Matt Hollingsworth, Richard Starkings, Cory Petit, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mark Bagley, Rick Mays, Art Thibert and introduction by Allen Heinberg

Reprints: Alias (2001) #1-28 (of 28) and What If Jessica Jones Had Joined the Avengers? (2005) #1

Synopsis: Jessica Jones is a former superhero (codenamed "Jewel") who runs her own private investigations firm - Alias Investigations in New York City. She left behind the cape and the lifestyle, but still has powers and a major tendency for self-destruction.  She drinks, smokes, curses, and can throw you through a wall.

In her first case she manages to accidentally capture a premier superhero's civilian identity on film.  Now she's on the run from any one of the many clandestine organizations after said superhero.  She still has contacts in the superhero community, but will they help a 'washout'? 

Jessica working and smoking, smoking and working
Her next case has the wife of Rick Jones trying desperately to find her husband.  Oh, did you know Jessica is related to Rick?  Something doesn't smell right and the Skrulls might be involved.  Then J. Jonah Jameson hires her to find out Spider-Man's secret identity.  He wants to publicly 'out' him like what happened to Matt Murdock being 'outed' as Daredevil.

Next Jessica is hired to find a missing girl in a small rural town.  She discovers the ugly side of the townspeople and the reason the girl disappeared.  Is it too late to save her?  Then Jessica heads back to the city and finds a new love interest, but will her usual neurotic shenanigans ruin yet another relationship?

A drugged-out girl dressed in a spider-costume startles Jessica at home and earns her the venom of J. Jonah Jameson.  It's time to find another missing girl as Jessica delves into the underground drug trafficking of Mutant Growth Hormone (MGH), but this time she may be in over her head.

We finally learn the startling secret origin of Jessica Jones.  Improbable guest star Peter Parker aka Spider-Man.  More disturbing is the reason Jessica quit being a superhero as she is hired by victims of a mind-controlling villain to confront him on their behalf.  She was also victimized by the same villain and is tormented by the very thought of facing him again.  Can she overcome her fears or will she hide behind a bottle for the rest of her life?  Final issue has a life-changing resolution.

Beautiful covers by Mack
Pros: Bendis' writing is pretty kick ass w/great dialogue, Gaydos' art is consistently gritty, Mack's covers are cool, published under the Marvel MAX imprint for mature readers - this means there's a f*$%load of cursing and some mature themes (that Bendis sure likes to use the f-word!), the What If? issue is great, book was an Eisner Award nominee in 2004 for "Best Continuing Series" and "Best Serialized Story", beautiful omnibus hardcover edition with tons of extras including sketches, interviews, and original pitch

Cons: No nudity (or damn little of it) despite the MAX imprint, Gaydos/Bendis reuse art panels with different dialogue (picture Jessica's head in three consecutive panels staring at us with different word balloons, get it?) - always seems like cutting corners to me, the series ended, most of the mainstream Marvel characters were off-limits due to the MAX rating

Mike Tells It Straight: When this series was originally published the Alias television show starring Jennifer Garner was airing and I literally thought the comic was an adaptation of the show.  Never picked it up, why bother?  Adaptations usually suck anyway.  Boy, was I wrong!  This series is completely unrelated to the television program and a groundbreaking look at realistic situations involving superheroes.

Bendis' realistic dialogue and plot are a refreshing take on superheroes in real-life situations.  Alias is one of his best works and a phenomenal read.  It's not perfect by any means, but very interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. Jessica's character development during the series was amazing as she falls on her face more often than she succeeds.  She is a flawed hero in the same vein as the classic Stan Lee characters and this is what Marvel is all about! 
Jessica, why so...purple?

The Marvel omnibus editions are great - best possible reprint versions out there.  This one is no exception, tons of extras for true fans of the work.  You get the bonus What If? encore story in this edition which is not included in any of the other Alias reprints.  Major downside as of this review is the scarcity of the omnibus - it's fetching upwards of $200 a copy these days.  Hopefully Marvel will get the hint and print a new edition so more people can afford to own it.  If not, buy the ultimate editions plus the What If?...Why Not? trade paperback for the whole story.  It's a mature story and definitely worth it. 

TO BUY and Recommendations:

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