Current Reviews


Alias #27

Posted: Wednesday, October 8, 2003
By: Shawn Hill

"Purple Pt. 4"

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos

Publisher: Marvel

Jessica at last has her dreaded conversation with Killgrave, mediated through an electronic monitor so his powers supposedly won't work. Sadly, his ramblings leave her doubting his sanity, and unable to achieve the closure his victims have paid her to provide. Things get much worse after the encounter, however, as news that the Purple Man has escaped from the Raft prison sends Jessica into a paranoid panic.

This is not a non-event issue. But it feels like one in some ways. Here is the price of Bendis' tendency towards talking heads; lots of conversations, some of them quite hilarious, but the action is all in the boundaries, in between the words. Most of the action consists of Jessica running scared, trying to protect her family, and seeking solace (as she usually does) in the arms of a man she trusts.

Gaydos' art (with his penchant for repeating the same panel rhythmically) would seem ideally suited to Bendis' chatty style, and it usually is. But at times the emotive preponderance of fluid black ink can actually obscure action, as on page 18. I realize Jessica's panicked call to her own office puts her in a very dark place, but that tiny figure leaping between two giant masses of black is supposed to be Jessica flying away, I think, between the buildings. Her flying is only fluid under Bagley; it's an unwieldy, lumpen procedure to Gaydos, and here she looks like the dark hulks are actually blocking her path, trying to crush her.

Which is, come to think of it, emotively right on target. It's just not very super-heroic or really indicative of her capabilities.

Bendis is also taking this opportunity to pull a mini-Grant Morrison. In what feels like an homage to the latter's final Animal Man issues, we find that Killgrave (like the Psycho-Pirate before him) may be the only member of the Marvel Universe who realizes he's in a comic book. That's what his insane ramblings are about, and he seems to know Jessica's fate well before she does. Is it another manipulation on Killgrave's part? Or is it Bendis' foregrounding even further the wry commentary that is this book's questioning and subversive relationship to the rest of the Marvel U.? Too soon to tell, but a bit jarring thus far.

I'm not sure how to feel about those foretold events that occur by the end of the issue. In fact, I'm not sure if they happened at all. Killgrave's impossible escape may be just that. Has he somehow preyed on Jessica's mind after all, sending massive delusions her way in revenge?

I hope so, because otherwise, the poor thing just can't win for losing.

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