Thursday, November 3, 2016

Standing Well On Its Own Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 2 Uncovers The Character!

The Good: Character, Good dialogue, Engaging plot progression
The Bad: Very standard mystery plot, Artwork
The Basics: Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 2 finds its charm in its climax in a surprising, very un-comic book way!

There are very few films and television works that are based on source material from another medium (i.e. video games, books, comic books) that are sufficiently good to get me to look into the source material. In the past year, arguably the television show that I have probably underrated was the first season of Jessica Jones (reviewed here!). Jessica Jones is a Netflix television show based on the Max imprint comic book Alias and I have now watched the entire first season no less than six times, which might not be impressive for a thirteen episode season, but considering it has been out for less than a year, tells me I was more captivated by it in the long run than I initially thought. The strength of that first season of Jessica Jones was enough to get me to pick up and read Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 1 (reviewed here!).

I was not impressed.

It says something about Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 1 that the elements of the book that most excited me were ones where I could see the tie-in to Jessica Jones; there are some stray lines and images that were adapted for the television series that were present in the first book. So, I was a bit more trepidatious about picking up Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 2. The first volume did not sell me on the idea that I would have enjoyed it had I not loved Jessica Jones and found myself wanting more. In other words, if I had picked it up before watching the show, I doubt I would have had any interest in watching the television show. So, I was feeling cautious when I sat down to Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 2.

Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 2 is a trade paperback anthology of Alias issues 11 - 15 and has been reprinted a few different times, under a few different names, the first being Alias Volume 2: Come Home. Unlike the prior volume, Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 2 focuses on telling one, complete, story. I was quite pleased to see - right off the bat - that issue #10 was placed in the third volume, which illustrates fidelity to story, as opposed to fidelity to issues, which is something I have been known to complain about a lot in the past! Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 2 is essentially a missing person case for Jessica Jones.

Jessica Jones arrives in Lago, New York, to join the search for Rebecca Cross and is instantly irked that Cross's mother and aunt got an article about her coming published in the local newspaper. Jones meets Rebecca's mother, who seems to think Rebecca's father might be involved in her disappearance. After investigating Cross's father and having a brief conversation with the local sheriff, Jones checks out Cross's high school. There, she runs into Mary Wilkinson, who claims Cross was a mutant with powers because the high school jock told him she was when he hit on her. Jones's investigation takes her to a drunken night with the sheriff and to the local church before she starts to winnow her suspect list down.

Jones arrives at Ed Cross's house to find him murdered. At the murder scene, Jones sees a young person and puts two and two together. Finding Rebecca alive, Jones is intent to return the missing girl to Lago, despite the sixteen year-old not wanting to go back. With the horrors of the case behind her, Jessica Jones returns to New York City to make peace with Luke Cage and go on a blind date with Scott Lang.

The bulk of Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 2 is a very standard mystery. The reader is immersed in a back water hick town where the kids are idiots and the clergy are racist crapbags who keep the people there thinking in a reactionary direction. Jessica Jones's dialog in this section saves it from being a total wash, but it is a generally average case.

What makes Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 2 pop is actually the final chapter. The date between Jessica Jones and Scott Lang is charming, cleverly-written and well-executed. Especially because it falls on the heels of a scene where Luke Cage and Jessica Jones have it out (within earshot of Matt Murdock!), the earnesty and honesty of the date scene resonates in an uncommon and surprisingly adult way.

The artwork in Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 2 is decidedly average. The flow between panels is often mediocre, but some of the basic artwork is outright terrible. To wit, when Jones finds Rebecca, it is not instantly clear from the artwork that she is kissing another girl. The artwork of Rebecca's journals is well-executed and very cool by contrast. While the character designs and movement for plot progression might be sketchy, the coloring throughout Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 2 is good even if it is consistently . . . monochromatic (for lack of a better term). The colors are vibrant, but they lack subtlety and shading (so, for example, Jones's hair is the same solid color brown).

But much more than the first volume, Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 2 stands on its own as an engaging character study of a woman who wants to do good in the world . . . without joining the caped crowd.

For other Marvel Comics works by Brian Michael Bendis, please visit my reviews of:
Secret Invasion
House Of M
Daredevil: West-Case Scenario


For other book reviews, please check out my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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