In this standalone issue of Alias entitled “It’s Raining Men”, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos delve into Jessica Jones’ life and also what a “typical” day looks like for her. Or just one not involving dealing with rural bigots, superhero sidekick wannabes, or a far reaching conspiracy involving Captain America and US presidential candidate. In the issue, she has her first actual conversation since she turned up at his house at 3 AM and saw he was with another woman and also since he got a favor from Matt Murdock to save her from a tense police interrogation session. They are both being Matt Murdock’s bodyguards (Now that he’s been outed as Daredevil by the tabloids.) and minding their own business, but end up having a drawn out and frank conversation about sex and the single superhero while Matt can hear everything. When his two’o’clock appointment (who just happens to be Natasha Romanov aka Black Widow) leaves, hilarity ensues.
Then, the story turns to show the first date of Scott Lang and Jessica Jones in all its awkward, raw, hilarious, and realistic glory. Things get off to a pretty bad start when Scott rebuffs Jessica’s order of a “double vodka on the rocks” because Carol Danvers has told him about her drinking issues, but it gets better even after Jessica leads with Scott’s previous incarceration. Alias #15 ends on a fairly upbeat note (for this book) as Jessica and Scott share a quiet, normal moment alone instead of jumping into action with Spider-Man and the Human Torch, who are battling Dr. Octopus down the street. The last few pages are kind of a thesis statement for Alias, which features many prominent superheroes (Including two who got their own film and TV show this year.), but is more concerned about their honest emotions, thoughts, and relationships rather than any kind of fisticuffs.
The opening page of Alias #15 really contrasts Jessica and Luke’s personalities through their dress and demeanor. Jessica is content to blend in the typical law office environment with her usual black jacket and magazine while Luke stands out like a sore thumb with his blue goggles and basically male stripper vest showing off his well developed chest and abs. Even as Power Man, he’s never really had a secret identity or had to fear for his life with his bulletproof skin while Jessica was mind raped and used by Kilgrave to do and watch horrible things. She keeps her superhero past buried beneath her exterior of being a sarcastic private eye (Though it inevitably keeps coming up in the plots of these stories.) while Luke has a reputation as a “cape chaser”. And an argument ensues.
And in this “talk”, Bendis switches stereotypical gender roles in sexual relationships a little bit as Jessica shames Luke for having multiple sex partners, and Luke is a little ticked that Jessica didn’t call. Luke labels Jessica as the initiator of their tryst back in Alias #1 with the blunt phrase, “You fucked me”, and it’s interesting to see a character with super strength be submissive sexually. However, the conversations turns back into the lazy men are logical, women are emotional trope even after Luke seems to get all torn up about Jessica ignoring him. He argues his way out of the “cape chaser” quip that Jessica uses on him by saying that he’s in the superhero business so he’ll have sex with lots of superheroes, duh. Luckily, this gets dropped for a little friendship repair between Luke and Jessica via jokes about Iron Fist’s name and Daredevil’s super-hearing ability. Also, it seems that speculating about Matt Murdock being Daredevil is standard superhero small talk because Jessica talks about the topic.
But, at this point, (And definitely if this book dealt with character relationships in a more typical superhero romance way a la Bendis’ work on Ultimate Spider-Man.), it seems like Scott Lang and Jessica Jones have better chemistry. (Sorry, Luke/Jess shippers.) Up to this point, Gaydos has mainly been using a grid format for Jessica’s conversation with Luke and even the awkward conversation starter of Scott telling Jessica not to drink with dinner. Her grimace combined with an order of a Sprite is a funny moment of synergy for Bendis and Gaydos. But then he gets intense with a full page close-up of Scott and Jessica basically making eye babies.
There does happen to be a gutter in between to show that there are some difficulties between them. For example, there is an aside about how Scott is a guy that Carol would sleep with because of his nice looks and job, but she passed him onto her because he’s been to jail. But for the most apart, these page contains some of Bendis’ most honest and adult flirting with Jessica admitting that she was just being a “smartass” with her comment about his criminal background followed with a little joke about how she liked dating divorcees because they’re “eager to please” and have “tons of shit to prove”. This date has gone from being a disaster to getting downright sexy, and one can only hope that somehow the Marvel TV and film schedules can sync enough so that Paul Rudd and Krysten Ritter can share a moment like this as Scott Lang and Jessica Jones respectively.
Matt Hollingsworth’s colors are also cooler in Alias #15, especially during Scott and Jessica’s date with a light, twilight blue against the yellow glow of a candle to evoke normalcy and romance. Even though it is a little weird that they ended up together on this date. Bendis throws in some great early Cameron Crowe-esque romantic comedy lines like Scott’s “I have absolutely no idea what you are going to say or do next”, or an exchange about how their conversation is controlled by their past or current lives as superheroes. The superhero as celebrity metaphor works well in this situation as this is like two veteran, middling actors getting a chance to get to know one another without each other’s fame or work getting in the way. (Scott does geek out about Jessica’s current P.I. job, but she takes the wind out of his sails when she reveals that her work is the opposite of Philip Marlowe’s.) And Spidey and Human Torch flying by to Jessica’s flat response of “Huh.” is like these theoretical actors rolling their eyes at a couple of Hollywood flavor of the month with paparazzi in tow.
If Ultimate Spider-Man #13 is Bendis’ ode to the awkwardness and passion of teenage dating, then Alias #15 is its adult companion piece. Both comics show that it’s difficult to make a romantic connection someone whether they’re a long time friend (Mary Jane Watson in Ultimate Spider-Man) or a new person (Scott Lang in Alias). But sparks can fly somehow, and Bendis ends Scott and Jessica’s date on a positive with Jessica admitting that it was good that Scott didn’t let her drink and a little joke about their waitress running off.
Alias #15 puts the microscope on Jessica Jones’ romantic relationships and friendships as writer Brian Michael Bendis gets painful and personal with his dialogue while Michael Gaydos makes subtle shifts in layouts and facial expressions to show when Jessica’s date with Scott Lang is going badly or well. There is also a little clue about Jessica Jones’ future as a motherhood where she blurts out about thinking about possibly being a mother after Scott talks about his drive to find redemption as a superhero is because of his daughter, Cassie. This could just be a bit of small talk, or it could be an important character beat in this relationship driven, slice of life story.
Alias #15 (2003)
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Michael Gaydos
Colors by Matt Hollingsworth
Letters by Jason Levine and Richard Starkings
Published by Marvel Comics (MAX)
Logan is a nerdy, bisexual ginger, who recently graduated university with a degree in English Literature and Overanalyzing Comic Books. He loves comics, music (especially New Wave and BritPop), film (especially Quentin Tarantino and Edgar Wright), sports (college football and NBA), TV, mythology, and poetry. Joss Whedon is his master, Kitty Pryde is his favorite superhero, and his current favorite comic is The Wicked + the Divine.