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Alias #26
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artists: Michael Gaydos, Mark Bagley, Art Thibert,
and Rick Mays

At last, all of the pieces of Jessica's history are in place. Or at least as many as we need for this final emotional roller coaster before the book becomes known as The Pulse. Still untapped and unexplained are her days as Knightress (perhaps best left alone) and an alleged career with The Avengers that Bendis might just as soon we forget he mentioned.

With this arc, Bendis has also taken a character we might consider stupid and made him into something terribly deadly. It's a cool twist for The Purple Man, but one that is hard to reconcile with what we've known before. Even here Bendis has to nod to that, as The Avengers fail to capture The Purple Man, but Daredevil succeeds.

As he did with the recent Daredevil #50, the writer mixes things up for a variety of artists. Unlike that book, however, it has uneven results. The appearance of Bagley still jars when juxtaposed against Gaydos. It's on purpose, contrasting the mundane reality of Jessica's day to day with her glory days, as The Purple Man puts it, of being "…a comic book character," even if it's one we'd never met before.

However, by using Rick Mays to illustrate a manga-esque dream sequence (Jessica had recently seen Akira for the first time), Gaydos' art doesn't just look mundane. His weaknesses come to the fore. While Gaydos has mastered drawing plain-looking beautiful people, it's also apparent that they're the same. Sure, Jean Grey can look like a normal person, but look again: she has the same face as Jessica. If not for hair color, they'd be identical.

There's no doubt that Bendis and Gaydos will bring it all to an exciting psychological head next issue. But it has taken a little more time than it needed to in order to get there. Maybe knowing that it's coming to an end anyway has forced the issue, but Alias seems to have lost a little steam in trying to flaunt its difference from the rest of the Marvel Universe.


Daredevil #51
story and art: David Mack

As an artist, David Mack certainly pushes the limits of storytelling. And that's meant in a good way. His panels challenge the eye, leading the reader in a way that few since Neal Adams' heyday have.

Proving that he knows his stuff, Mack even shows off a bit by having Echo paint self-portraits in the styles of Kahlo, Picasso, Van Gogh, and perhaps a few more but I'm an English major so I'm out of knowledge here. It's a flashy move, and if a bit self-indulgent, Mack still pulls it off with flair.

But such tricks also go a long way to covering that Mack doesn't actually have much to say here. Echoing the previous time he spotted Bendis, Mack revives his deaf femme fatale. In fairness, you knew she had to come back. Too much was left undone, and The Kingpin's shadow had lessened enough for Echo to resurface.

Mack rehashes what he established before, albeit beautifully and lyrically. There are moments of poetry as a young girl tries to compensate for the sense she will never have. If the rain makes noise, she wonders, then what sound does sunshine make?

Such moments just don't fill the book, though. What Mack does accomplish is reminding me just how much Mark Steven Johnson ripped from Echo in his film version of Elektra.

Though the arc may have more to offer, right now this book is one just for the art - gorgeous and innovative as it is.


Decoy: Stranded
writer: Michelle Nichols
artists: Courtney Huddleston, Pablo Villalobos and James Taylor

If you're new to Decoy, and many of you probably will be, this one-shot serves well to get you up to speed.

Framed by a typical misadventure of Officer Bobby Luck and his polymorphic alien friend, the tale rehashes Decoy's origin. As Luck and Decoy have been treed by a bear, they go over their history together.

In some ways, Nichols' script is easier to follow than the original telling by Buddy Scalera. It has the advantage of not being serialized. But it also manages to gloss over the more uneasy aspects of the character. Though intentionally extremely cute, Decoy comes from a race of aliens that are actually psychopathic. And the far more frightening looking aliens, the Kranch, are the good guys. Nichols makes it obvious without being graphic, which keeps the story fairly light.

And really, it ought to be, since Penny Farthing has teamed Decoy up with Herobear and the Kid.

For those attracted by that earlier team-up, the book is perfect. Huddleston and the rest of the art team have a clean cartoony style, with the bright coloring of Mike Garcia adding to a kid-friendly appearance. So get this to tide you over until the second part of the Herobear/Decoy crossover.

If you're already a Decoy fan, you may want to skip this, as you'll learn nothing new, except perhaps for a somewhat arbitrary limit on Decoy's abilities. But heck, if you're a Decoy fan, you already bought the book, and you're waiting for further adventures.


Derek McCaw


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