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Comic Book / Alias

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Alias is a Comic Book series created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos, with covers by David Mack. It launched the Marvel MAX imprint and ran for a total of 28 issues from 2001 to 2004.

Years ago, Jessica Jones put on a shiny costume and became the superheroine Jewel. Then, for reasons that she's reluctant to explain, she quit. Now she works as a private detective to pay the bills. She's eager to forget the past, but somehow her cases keep leading her back to the community she left behind.

The series is known for its focus on Jessica's character development; layers of her past and personality are revealed to the reader as she tries to come to terms with them.

Jessica's powers are rather low-key by Marvel standards. She's tougher and considerably stronger than the average human, and she can fly. But she's not as strong or tough as big names like the Hulk or Thor, and she gets airsick and can't land very well.

Upon the completion of Alias, several characters were moved to Brian Michael Bendis's subsequent series The Pulse. Jessica went on to appear in several other Marvel series, serving as a mentor to the Young Avengers and a love interest for Luke Cage before finally returning to crimefighting as a member of the New Avengers.

The comic series was adapted into a Netflix television series called Jessica Jones (2015) in 2015. The series is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Krysten Ritter cast as Jessica, David Tennant as Killgrave, and Mike Colter as Luke Cage.

Not to be confused with the J. J. Abrams show Alias. Though both that show and the show which was adapted from this comic were made by what would become ABC Signature.

Alias provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Jessica doesn't like fighting much, but she's got Super-Strength and can deliver a good haymaker. In one issue she's accosted by a Giant Mook who is built like a brick wall, but still only has normal human-level strength. She easily overpowers and beats the name of his employer out of him.
  • All Women Are Lustful: A drunk and depressed Jessica offers to let Luke, exact words, "do whatever he wants" with her. Which is heavily implied to be rough anal sex.
  • Alliterative Name: Jessica Jones
  • Amazon Chaser: Discussed. Carol Danvers thinks Luke Cage has a fetish for superpowered women, noting his string of short-lived relationships with female supers to Jessica. For his part, Cage points that most of the women he knows are superpowered: "If I was a lawyer, I'd probably mostly date lawyers."
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: In his short-lived appearance, Jessica's little brother is only shown as this. Even in the seconds of his last moment before the car accident, he was in the middle of mocking his big sister (who at the time was being scolded by their father regarding her profanity).
  • Art Shift: One of the most masterful examples. For the most part, the series has a realistic but gritty and heavily shadowed aesthetic, but this changes in certain sections:
    • In an early arc, Jessica is looking for a runaway teen. When Jessica examines the teen's scrapbooks for clues, the collages inside are created by David Mack.
    • Flashbacks to Jessica's teenage years, however, which begin by showing her pining over Peter Parker, are drawn to resemble Spider-Man's introduction in Amazing Fantasy, including a slight yellowing of the white space between panels to evoke the feeling that the issue is aged.
    • Jessica's flashbacks to her time as Jewel are drawn in a somewhat cartoony, bright and colorful late nineties style by Mark Bagley, including the standard yellow information boxes (which were eschewed from the series in favor of atmosphere) and Stan Lee-inspired title graphic.
    • While comatose and being telepathically visited by Jean Grey, the art style has a manga-esque feel. Jessica says that the last movie she saw was AKIRA.
  • The Alcoholic: Jessica is frequently trying to drown her sorrows with hard liquor, frequently bottles at a time, and then doing things she regrets.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Jessica and Luke's relationship veers into this for a while before they finally get together for good and begin to fall in love.
  • Berserk Button: Bringing up the Purple Man incident was a big one for Jessica.
  • Betty and Veronica: Gender Flipped, with Jessica in a Love Triangle between Nice Guy and more mainstream Marvel hero Scott Lang (Ant-Man II) and Marvel's resident Scary Black Man Luke Cage who has a personality more like hers (albeit much higher self-esteem) and Belligerent Sexual Tension with her after she slept with him while drunk and depressed. She dates Scott for a few issues, but during the Purple Man incident she discovers that Luke got her pregnant during an unseen one-night stand later in the series. She breaks up with Scott and gets together with Luke.
  • Break the Cutie: Jewel is seen as a rather upbeat superhero before running into Purple Man.
  • The Cameo: Captain America, Daredevil, Spider-Man, etc...
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: In #22, a teenaged Jessica is shown lying in her bed and looking at a pin-up of Johnny Storm while slipping a hand into her panties. Just as her toes begin to curl, her little brother walks in and gets yelled at.
  • Compelling Voice: The Purple Man's skin secretes chemical pheromones which, when inhaled or absorbed through the skin, allow him to control their actions and feelings by verbal suggestions. Including killing an entire diner full of people by asking them to stop breathing because they are too loud.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: In a flashback we're shown that Jessica got her powers when her family car crashed into a military truck carrying toxic waste. Her family didn't survive. She was adopted by another family, despite being in high school, but her adoptive family is hardly shown and she seems to have a rather distant relationship with them.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The Purple Man's Compelling Voice is tremendously powerful but he's otherwise an ordinary human other than being purple from head to toe. Jean Grey provides Jessica a countermeasure to his Compelling Voice and she lays him out with one punch. Then adds a few more just because she's pissed.
  • Closest Thing We Got: Killgrave orders Jessica to go to the Avengers mansion and kill Daredevil... ignoring the fact that Daredevil was not an Avenger, had never been before that point, and there was zero reason to expect to find him there. But, as Killgrave has a Compelling Voice, she has to obey his orders anyway, somehow. So she attacked the Scarlet Witch, simply because she also has a red suit.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Since this is a comic book series published under the MAX imprint, there is a lot of swearing coming from the mouths of Jessica and a few other characters.
  • Dark Age of Supernames: The Pulse revealed that after the incident with The Purple Man, but before she opened her detective agency, Jessica made an attempt at being a '90s Anti-Hero, with a modicum of success. Unfortunately, she achieved all of this under the moniker "Knightress."
  • Darker and Edgier: Alias was the first series published by MAX, a Marvel imprint created specifically for "R-rated" comics. The very first line of the very first issue is "FUCK!"
  • Drowning My Sorrows: She drank quite a lot in Alias to mask the emotional pain.
  • Ethical Slut: Luke Cage, according to Carol Danvers at the start of the second arc. She says he likes sleeping with superwomen (including Jessica and Carol themselves; Carol also lists Jessica Drew, Tigra, and She-Hulk), to which Jessica responds that she thought he was a Nice Guy. Carol insists that he is a good man and his sex life has nothing to do with it. For his part, Luke says when Jessica challenges him on it that if he was a lawyer, he'd probably mostly sleep with lawyers, and points out that she came on to him.
  • Expy: A former superhero named Jessica who became a private detective? Isn't Bendis fond of another character like that? Actually, yes he is: Alias got its start as a pitch for a new series starring Jessica Drew, but Marvel wouldn't let Bendis use her. He quickly whipped up Jessica Jones as a replacement and the rest is history.
  • Fan Disservice: Jessica and Luke's first sex scene is less than comfortable to read about, from Jessica's pained facial expressions, to the way both her and Luke's body language screams 'uncomfortable silence' after it's over.
  • Fantastically Indifferent: Played for Laughs. At the end of Issue 15, Jessica is on her first date with Scott Lang after Carol Danvers set them up, when suddenly Human Torch and Spider-Man go by chasing Doc Ock down the street. A bunch of civilians stop in the streets to watch the show, but they just sorta look at each other and go, "You wanna go help?" "Nah, they got it."
  • Film Noir: Dubbed "Comic Book Noir" by Jeph Loeb in the introduction to the first trade paperback.
  • First-Person Smartass: Jessica narrates in first person and often has a bit of an irreverent point of view.
  • Ground-Shattering Landing: Jessica does this in the second chapter to frighten someone. She also tends to do this unintentionally due to being bad at landing.
  • Hand on Womb: Toward the end of the series, Jessica has to land suddenly while flying to puke. She lifts up her shirt and puts a hand on her stomach when she realizes what this likely means.
  • Hilarity Sues: A tabloid outs Matt Murdoch as Daredevil. Matt publicly denies it and starts suing everybody and his mother for libel.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Teenage Jessica in issue #22 begins masturbating to a poster on her wall. It's quite possibly the first time a character in a Marvel series was shown doing that.
  • I Know What You Fear: Jessica's archenemy the Purple Man can tell Jessica to see Scott dead (she sees him bled out and covered in ants), then that the most horrifying thing she can imagine is lying in bed next to her (which turns out to be her best friend Carol being lovingly embraced by both sides of Jessica's Love Triangle), but can't see what it is that she's screaming about.
  • Immune to Bullets: Claimed by Jessica in the final chapter of the first story arc. A bunch of mooks point guns at her and she tells them that if they shoot, she's going to pull the bullets out of her coat and shove it up their rears. But her Internal Monologue says she's bluffing: she actually doesn't know if she's bulletproof and isn't interested in finding out.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: J. Jonah Jameson. Jessica humiliates him when he hires her to find out Spider-Man's identity while badmouthing both superheroes and private investigators (she spends a full month doing charity work and billing it to the Daily Bugle). Even his own employees start complaining about what a dick he is about it. But then he and his wife hired her to find Mattie Franklin, their missing adopted daughter (the latest iteration of Spider-Woman), whom Jameson deeply cares about. When they meet with her, his wife explains that Jameson has many issues that mostly stop him publicly showing a caring side, mostly regarding his son. After adopting Mattie, he tried making up for his failures with his son by being a good father to her. This is why her troubles hurt him so deeply, since he feels like he's failed again. Fast forward to the last pages of Alias and Luke is seen complaining that Jessica now seems to be the only super Jameson will write positive headlines about.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The new trades have an advertisement for the omnibus edition of The Pulse which reveals that Jessica Jones has a child with Luke Cage.
  • Love Triangle: Jessica and Luke Cage have history, but Carol Danvers successfully sets her up with the more sensitive Scott Lang (a.k.a. Ant Man II). Things are even more complicated by her mild (albeit unrequited) interest in Matt Murdock. Murdoch's main love interest Karen Page was also a victim of the Purple Man. She ends up breaking up with Scott and starting a relationship with Luke after she realizes he got her pregnant during an unseen one-night stand late in the series.
  • Made of Iron: As part of her backstory, Jessica as Jewel, under The Purple Man's influence, takes a hit in the face from The Vision. She does note that it broke her nose, knocked out a few teeth, and injured her neck. She also doesn't rule out the thought of being bulletproof, but never wanted to find out the truth.
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: Jessica is shown masturbating while she's a teenager looking at her Johnny Storm poster. This is while she's too shy to tell Peter Parker her feelings about him, with her masturbating clearly being an outlet.
  • Meta Guy: Killgrave is an interesting variant. Not only is he seemingly aware he's a comic book character, but he seems to think everyone else is similarly aware, and interprets their behavior as if they were attempting to have their series continued, and advises them to remain within their own continuity. So, in his mind, Jessica is a whore who provides Fanservice by changing clothes on-panel, when to her she's just changing her clothes.
  • Mind Rape: During one of Jessica's very first missions, she attempts to foil a robbery by The Purple Man, who has Compelling Voice-style powers. He orders her to thrash the police officers arriving at the scene, then traps her under his thumb for nearly a year. During that time, he never touches her, but brings home a number of younger women and forces her to watch him have sex with them while he compels her to wish that she was in their position. Further, he tells her that she loves him. Even years later, after she escapes, she is haunted by the memory of it; she states that even though she knows, rationally, that she didn't love him, the nature of his powers means that she felt the emotions just as strongly as if they were real.
  • Mugging the Monster: A Corrupt Corporate Executive sends a goon after her, who taunts her about being a necrophiliac rapist. Unfortunately for him, Jessica is much stronger and much tougher than he is and it doesn't go well.
  • Must State If You're a Cop: Drug dealer Denny Hayes asks Jessica Jones, who's trying to infiltrate his inner circle, if she's a cop, and says that if she is, she's legally required to tell him. She isn't, but this doesn't stop him from ordering his goons to beat her up.
  • Next Thing They Knew: Jessica gets drunk in the bar Luke owns, Luke offers to call her a cab...and next thing, they're having rough heavily implied to be anal sex at his place.
  • N-Word Privileges: Luke describes himself as "the scariest nigga ever was" in the first chapter.
  • One-Steve Limit: Jessica is confused with Jessica Drew, one of the former Spider-Women, and it takes a while before she realizes that the person was looking for a different Jessica.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: Killgrave's escape from prison was a complete fluke. Another supervillain, Carnage, started a prison riot all on his own and Killgrave broke out in the confusion when Carnage knocked out the security systems.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Jessica is superpowered, but by the standards of Marvel A- and even B-list heroes she's nothing special.
  • Pals with Jesus: Jessica's best friend is more mainstream Marvel heroine (and Physical God) Ms. Marvel.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Surprisingly, using his Compelling Voice to make women have sex with him is one of the least of the Purple Man's crimes.
  • Pregnant Badass: While the later stages of the pregnancy (and birth) take place in spin-off series The Pulse, this definitely applies to the last few issues once Jessica realizes she's pregnant.
  • Rape as Backstory: Discussed. Jessica has something dark in her past that she can't talk about. Scott Lang asks if she was raped, but Jessica denies it and complains that men usually leap to that conclusion. It turns out that she was mind-raped by the Purple Man, who tormented her by making her want to have sex with him but never touching her.
    • Played straight with the other women that the Purple Man controls.
  • Really Gets Around: Not to an extreme degree, but given that Jessica finds out she's pregnant with Luke's baby while she's with Scott, either she went right from Luke to Scott or she cheated on Scott with Luke (it's strongly indicated to be the former). She also has sex with a local sheriff while upstate on a case (they were both pretty drunk).
  • Required Secondary Powers: Subverted in the fact that Jessica can fly, but she tends to get airsick and crash-land.
  • Retcon: Jessica is a walking Retcon. She went to high school with Peter Parker and has been fighting crime almost as long as he, despite having only existed in the real world since 2001. Also, The Pulse expanded on the barely-mentioned idea that Jessica had a brief run as a Darker and Edgier '90s Anti-Hero under the name Knightress, between her recovery from the Purple Man incident and opening Alias Investigations.
  • The Reveal:
    • Jessica's origin story is saved until the second-to-last arc.
    • Jessica's backstory is covered in the final arc.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: Purple Man started as a Silver Age foe of Daredevil.
  • Sadist: The Purple Man tends to go the extra mile while making other people do things. When he finds the chatter at a diner he visits at annoying, he forces everyone except for the chef and waiter to hold their breath, everyone suffocating to death. When he takes Jessica under his thrall, he does every sexually humiliating thing to her he can think of except rape (including making her stand there as he rapes someone else).
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Jessica isn't unattractive at all, but she's very much a 't-shirt and jeans girl' and rarely wears makeup. Justified, since part of a private investigator's job is not drawing attention to yourself. This point was made clear in an issue where she was trying to get into a nightclub while working on a case and was denied entry based on her standard 'blue jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket' appearance. She put on makeup and revealing clothing and was let right in.
  • Sinister Minister: A bit character in the "Rebecca, Come Home" arc. Jessica goes out to a small town in upstate New York to track down a missing girl and runs into your average fundie bigot pastor at the local church. This being Marvel, he's anti-mutant, justifying it by the fact that the word doesn't appear anywhere in the Bible, ergo God didn't create mutants, ergo they're an evil of man.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: In a series that is not shy about dropping F-bombs, Jessica and Luke stand head and shoulders above the rest.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Although Jessica isn't a fan of manga, she says she watched AKIRA and found it very intriguing. Her comatose mindscape has a Japanese style as a result.
    • A metal jewelry piece spells out Jinx, a reference to Bendis' earlier comic.
  • Snark Knight: Jessica's life has been extremely tragic, but she deals with her issues through snark that would make inanimate objects feel insulted.
  • Super-Strength: Downplayed. Jessica is strong enough to throw ordinary humans around like ragdolls, but is a weakling compared to Marvel's A-listers.
  • Super-Toughness: Downplayed. Jessica is tough enough to beat a man in the face all day without breaking any bones, as well as land after falling from great heights, but compared to other superpowered individuals she's nothing special. In her backstory as Jewel she survives a Megaton Punch from the Vision, but it still injured her neck and spine, knocked out teeth, and detached a retina.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: In the last issue, Jessica learns she's gotten pregnant from Luke, which definitely wasn't intended and took a while for her to realize at all.
  • Trigger Phrase: Variant; When Jean helped Jessica out of the fugue state she was stuck in after being freed from Purple Man's influence, she put a psychic 'trigger' in Jessica's mind that would allow her to resist his powers, but didn't tell her at the time. When Kilgrave laters breaks out of jail and puts Jessica under his control again, Jean telepathically contacts her and tells her about it. The instant Jessica learns this she beats the everloving shit out of him, and although reduced to tears afterward, finally begins to get over what he did to her.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Decking Scarlet Witch right after a very tough mission puts all of the Avengers and the Defenders in a state of uncharacteristic murderous fury. If Thor hadn't missed with his hammer swing, if Jessica weren't superhumanly tough to survive the Vision's punch, and if Carol hadn't rescued her, she almost certainly would have been killed by their retaliation. After finding out the truth, they all show up to apologize.
  • What If?: As part of her backstory, Jessica is beaten savagely by The Avengers after attacking them while under Mind Control; when they realize this, they offer her a position as the Avengers/S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison. She declines. A one-off What If? issue (included in the series omnibus) revealed what would have happened had she accepted: she is happy, not depressed; as an outsider in Avenger's Mansion, she spots the mental problem that Scarlet Witch has before she can cause the Avengers Disassembled debacle; she marries Steve Rogers. Notably, this story took place before she gave birth to her daughter, and she actually does eventually join the Avengers.