Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #133


Reader Tommy Marx wished for me to revisit an old column, and looking back at the piece myself, I probably should give a little more information on the topic.

The piece in question was "Alias was originally going to star Jessica Drew, but writer Brian Michael Bendis was forced to change Jessica Drew to Jessica Jones."

That was listed false then, and I would still list it as false.

Please note, the key interview with Bendis on that point came months BEFORE Alias was released, where he notes BEFORE Alias ever came out:

You may have heard that 'Alias was originally going to star Jessica Drew, Marvel Comics' original Spider-Woman. You would have heard wrong, though.

[Bendis:] 'Nope. This is an urban myth that I believe I will never live down. I was at one time toying with doing Jessica Drew because she has the best hair of any superhero in comics, but this book is entirely different than what that idea was to be.

This character is totally different in every way but sexual gender. And there's that Jessica name that's not going to help me convince anyone.

Any writer can tell you that the development process can be a sparkling and surprising one. You start in one place and end up in an entirely different one. I was also toying with a pornographic version of Dial H for Hero, doesn't mean that this is that book either.'

The problem is, this is a very narrow row to hoe - as yes, Bendis WAS going to do a book starring Jessica Drew.

It started much earlier, when he was planning a Spider-Woman series for Marvel West Coast with artist Rick Mays (here is some of Mays' art for that series).

That series was going to star Jessica Drew as a superhero SHIELD agent. A lot of the ideas from that series were incorporated into Bendis' quick stint on Elektra.

However, years later, he again revisited the whole "Jessica Drew as SHIELD agent" idea, but as the idea changed into what more resembles the book that became Alias, Bendis decided that a brand-new character was better for the role, so created Jessica Jones.

Years later, when Bendis finally DID do a Spider-Woman series, he made the quote:

Originally, "Alias" was going to star Jessica Drew, but it became something else entirely. Which is good, because had we used Jessica it would have been off continuity and bad storytelling.

Which is certainly frustrating, as basically, Bendis, by attempting to be succinct, instead helped foster the very urban legend he bemoaned YEARS earlier (in the first quote).

And it is that urban legend that Tommy was asking about - "Was Alias set to star Jessica Drew before Marvel made him change it and use an analogue character instead, like DC did with Alan Moore and Watchmen?" (Tommy actually cites Moore as an example of what he thought happened here).

And to that, the answer is still false.

But was Bendis planning on writing a Jessica Drew comic book?

Yes - back in the mid-90s, and again, when he turned an initial idea for a Jessica Drew comic book into a DIFFERENT idea, which became Alias, which was never starring Jessica Drew.

Bendis goes into the subject with much more depth for the Alias Omnibus, where he basically confirms the original Urban Legend.

So there ya go, Tommy! Probably more confusing than it is worth, but hey, it gave me an opportunity to answer an old suggestion I got from reader Craig way back in July of 2006, who wanted to know what the deal was with the 90s's Spider-Woman!

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