Recently signed up as a pilot by network ABC, penned by Twilight scribe Melissa Rosenberg, Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos’s Alias is the perfect marriage between mainstream superhero storytelling and mature themes. The book was first published in individual issue form in 2001, ending in 2004 after 28 bad language-filled issues, starring former Avenger-turned-Private-Eye Jessica Jones.
Alias was one of the first titles released under the mature imprint, MAX, and as such offers a look at a unique corner of the Marvel Universe. Essentially, Jessica Jones takes on cases that related to narrative trappings of Marvel – mutation, superheroes and, in the fourth volume, mind control – but tend to focus on real people, the now powerless Jones included.
My personal favourite storyline, Come Home (which is volume two of the four trade paperbacks that collect the series), has Jones visiting a very small New York town where a teenage girl has disappeared. Nothing, of course, is as it seems, with a seemingly simple missing person case soon uncovering the darker shades of the neighbourhood, the kind that our private eye becomes accustomed to over the series’ run.
A fun element of Alias is the way it dovetails with Marvel continuity, featuring cameos from characters like Luke Cage, Matt Murdock and Spider-Woman among many others, some reinterpreted to suit the grimy sub-superhero universe that Jones inhabits. By its final volume, the book comes full circle, showing us Jessica’s often harrowing origins and paving the way for later spin-off The Pulse.
Alias is a tremendous standalone Marvel series that I heartily recommend picking up, whether you’re a superhero fan or not. For anyone whose appreciation of costume vigilantes is in need of renewal, the adventures of an ex-hero spat out by the do-gooder experience and cynical of the glamour is surely an ideal read.