Alias (volume 4) by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos

I loved this book. I knew I was going to, so I saved it for a few days after it arrived to let the anticipation build. When I first started reading graphic novels beyond the world of The Walking Dead, I spent a good while browsing the recommended section of my local comic book store, Page 45. Alias was one of the titles that came with a glowing recommendation, and after binge-watching the glorious Netflix series, I knew I wanted to delve deeper into the gritty world of former superhero Jessica Jones.

In a tonal shift from the first three volumes, volume four opens bright, bold and cheery, with a teenage Jessica mooning over her high school crush (yes, that Peter Parker). Although her origins story is predictably dark and tragic, flashback segments maintain the bright and vibrant style that’s a world apart from the darker hues of the rest of the book – something that becomes deeply unsettling when young, perky and pink-haired Jessica is ensnared by the villainous, mind-controlling Killgrave. We don’t see much of her time with him, but the effect on her life resonates deeply throughout the book, perhaps most poignantly in a scene told mostly through glances, in which love-interest Luke Cage breaks through enough of her barriers to give her a much-needed hug.

I’m sad that this is the last of the Alias run, and while I’ll definitely read Jessica’s further adventures in The Pulse, the little of the artwork I’ve seen worries me that her story won’t transition well from Max to mainstream Marvel. It’s to the credit of this run that the character and plots were able to remain grounded and real, despite the fantastical heroes and heroines incorporated throughout. The story here was so compelling that I tore through it quicker than anticipated, so at least I have a future re-read to look forward to.

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