Bob Reynolds and Jamie Madrox are both coming back from the dead this week in their own respective series from the publisher. The Sentry’s maligned tenure at Marvel concluded with Ares ripping him in half during the Siege storyline, while Multiple Man was swiftly killed in the Death of X mini-series. Trying to imagine what the publisher has in-store for these resurrected characters, and if either project is any good, is the topic of discussion in this week’s Marvel Rundown!
Written by Matthew Rosenberg
Illustrated by Andy MacDonald
Colored by Tamra Bonvillain
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Alexander Jones: AJ and Joe, Marvel is throwing some pretty odd concepts at the wall right now with Multiple Man being the latest mutant oddball to get his own series. What did each of you think of Jamie Madrox’s new lease on life?
Joe Grunenwald: I feel like ‘odd concepts’ is describing Multiple Man #1 mildly. Wow, was I not prepared at all for what’s going on in this comic. I’m not even sure I could explain at this point what’s going on. But my first impression is I really enjoyed trying to figure it out.
AJ Frost: To put it bluntly, this issue is bonkers. But bonkers in a high concept kind of way. There’s so much here and it’s obvious Matt Rosenberg is having a ton of fun putting his characters through all sorts of insane hi-jinx. I mean, in the course of this book, there’s a near-death experience, a massive time vortex disruption, and a big sandwich. And that’s just the first few pages!
Jones: I agree with everything both of you said. I’m going to be honest and say I’m not very familiar with Multiple Man, but I found his characterization to be really unique and interesting. It is also good to see Matthew Rosenberg write something not as dark as some of the material that came before.
Frost: Rosenberg’s work with The Archies shows he has a light touch and excellent taste in music.
Grunenwald: The Madrox I’m familiar with is the ‘mutant PI’ iteration Peter David wrote in the mid-’00s, and this was definitely lighter than that material was. I didn’t expect the issue to be so goofy, but the humor was a welcome surprise.
Frost: Yeah, I’m with Joe as a “Multiple Man” neophyte. When it comes down to it, I’m never sure if unfamiliarity is a positive or negative. But what I can say is this is a great issue for those who’ve never really experienced the character. The concept is broad enough that the specifics may only satiate hardcore fans (are there such a thing?), while the rest of us dive headfirst into a comic which brings both yuks and a solid story.
Grunenwald: I definitely agree. This issue is accessible to people who’ve never read the character before while providing enough exposition to allow lapsed readers to catch up pretty quickly. The cameos from other X-folk were also well done in a way that introduces the characters without fully explaining who each of them is because ultimately it’s not essential to the story.
Frost: Pardon my ignorance, but is Multiple Man considered part of the X-Men universe? Or is he off in the wilderness on his own and sometimes gets roped into X-Men affairs?
Grunenwald: He’s always been more of an X-Factor character than a proper X-Man, and some of the other X-characters in this issue – Wolfsbane, Strong Guy, and Rictor specifically – also have an affiliation with X-Factor.
Jones: The art was beautiful in the issue and really nicely translated the odd script from Rosenberg. I like that there is so much personality in the issue and it still has a Morrison-like quality that will likely call for MULTIPLE re-reads as the series progresses. The reasoning for the return of Madrox actually even makes sense as a story beat which is really interesting. I wanted to like the issue but the full creative team actually gave me a reason to invest in it.
Frost: Andy MacDonald’s art is spectacular throughout. It’s lively, it’s crisp, and it pops from the page. I’m a bit upset his name isn’t as widely well-known as it should be. His rendering of Beast is invitation enough to give this book a thorough and close read. There are just some really vibrant splash pages here. I can’t stop staring at them! And many props to Tamra Bonvillain on colors. This is a really beautiful book. My one gripe, and admittedly this is minor, but I wish a book like this would have used a more European-style flat coloring job. But that’s something I want for most comics, so just consider it wish fulfillment rather than a straight critique.
Jones: This book seems like it is pretty outside of all the books Marvel is currently publishing and I’m glad to see them take a chance on something like this. Compared to some of the more drab X-Men comics this issue really does feel like a much-needed shot in the arm. I would like to see Rosenberg draw some sort of conclusion and be able to tie this issue and series together by the end, but if nothing else, the risky nature of the script will definitely pay off in one way or another.
Frost: Alex, you raise an interesting point. It’s likely this book will probably receive a bit of a mixed reaction from some more hardcore readers who want their mutants grim. This issue is the complete opposite and is so much more positive and quirky. It will certainly turn off some readers, but will also invite many to explore the possibilities of what a diversified Marvel can bring to the marketplace.
Jones: I’m not sure I have much else to say about the title. I think there is a great sense of ambition with the plot. The art is wonderful and this is a pretty accessible way to pick up the plot of the issue and jump into Madrox’s wacky world. The fringe mutants and other X-Men like Bishop and Beast also got really solid characterization as well. Any last words from Joe before we wrap up?
Grunenwald: I concur for the most part with what you both have said. I liked the art a lot, and I always appreciate comics with a lighter tone. The cliffhanger is interesting enough that I want to see where the story leads.
Frost: Yeah, not to spoil anything, but the ending is a crazy capstone to an already crazy issue.
Jones: What’s the final verdict, gents?
Frost: This is a BUY from me. This is an off-kilter story with a lot of heart, and it’s complemented by the fantastic artwork. It’s a whole lot of fun.
Grunenwald: Agreed. BUY from me as well, even for readers who aren’t familiar with the character.
Jones: BUY for all the reasons above!
Final Verdict: A unanimous BUY from the team!
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Kim Jacinto
Colored by Rain Beredo
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Joe Grunenwald: Bursting with the power of a million exploding suns, The Sentry is back in a new ongoing series from Jeff Lemire and Kim Jacinto! AJ, what’d you think of the golden guardian of good’s return?
AJ Frost: Well…. it was trippy for sure. I’m usually a sucker for Jeff Lemire’s work and I thought I would be immediately drawn to this book. But man, it took some work for me to actually get any enjoyment out of it. Sentry is one of those Marvel characters who is always on the periphery, a little too niche for his own good. But with the right creative juices, he can really flow. As for this new #1, I still don’t know what to think of it. There are so many ideas and styles crammed into it. What was your first impression?
Grunenwald: I go into this issue a big fan of Jeff Lemire, in particular his Black Hammer series. I got a very Black Hammer vibe from this issue almost immediately, and I was hooked from the first double-page spread. There definitely are a lot of ideas swirling around in this comic, and I loved it. It felt like a mix of Black Hammer and an episode of Black Mirror.
Frost: It’s a far cry from Essex County, that’s for sure. I can see the Black Hammer comparison apropos of Bob’s predicament as a superhero gone to seed. It’s such a stark thing to see someone who was once in their prime wind up in a menial situation in life. That definitely feeds into the Black Mirror ethos as well.
Grunenwald: Bob’s situation is fascinating to me. Maybe it was just me but I saw it as a metaphor for ‘online life’ – online, people can portray a life, perhaps the life they want to be living, that’s completely from the one they’re living in the real world. The tragedy of Bob’s situation is the only way he’s able to experience being The Sentry is in total isolation from the world.
Frost: The duality is played with really well in the comic, though it took me a while to spot. There’s a lot of juxtaposition between modern comics aesthetics like digital gradients and infinite color combined with the tried and true Ben-Day dots. Sometimes these latter elements are in the foreground, sometimes in the back, but they are always present, as if to point to an earlier time where comics reigned supreme, whereas today they are not as ubiquitous. A nice artistic flair, I thought.
Grunenwald: The art from Kim Jacinto and colorist Rain Beredo is really solid throughout the issue. I appreciated that the opening Sentry sequence had a more dynamic, colorful look than the drabber Bob Reynolds sequence. The mundane nature of Bob’s life really comes through well visually.
Frost: Yeah. If only the story matched the visuals. Lemire is great, but there was something about this book that just… ah, I really wished this was stellar material, and it was only pretty solid material. Is it selfish of me to demand constant excellence? That’s not to say the issue is bad. More that is just didn’t hit my expectations.
Grunenwald: If the worst thing you can say about a writer’s work is that it’s “only pretty solid,” that’s still not bad for Lemire. I can certainly see how this comic wouldn’t be for everyone. Honestly, I’m not sure what I was expecting when I went into the issue, but I’ve always found The Sentry to be a concept with a lot of largely untapped potential, and I feel like this issue starts to scratch that potential’s surface.
Frost: Agreed. So what’s your final verdict here, Joe?
Grunenwald: If my incessant gushing over it wasn’t indication enough, I’m giving this one a BUY. How about you?
Frost: I’m more bearish on this one, and will give it a BROWSE. I don’t think it is Jeff Lemire’s best work, nor is it his worst. Readers should check it out and decide for themselves.
Final Verdict: Joe says BUY, while AJ says BROWSE!
NEXT WEEK: Ta Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu’s Captain America debuts, and Ghost Rider gets Cosmic!