There’s an old saying: in comics, no one ever really dies. In the 2016 crossover Death of X, Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, was infected by Terrigen Mist. Terrigen is deadly to mutants and in one of the story’s most powerful scenes, Jamie along with his many duplicates (“dupes”) were seen dead or deathly sick. Less than two years later, in a miniseries by Matthew Rosenberg (Four Kids Walk Into a Bank) and Andy MacDonald (NYC Mech) Multiple Man is back. Or is he?
With Four Kids, Rosenberg proved that he can write a funny and compelling story. The first issue of Multiple Man is no different, as the book is consistently funny while creating an interesting mystery. The question is how funny can a comic be when its main character died a horribly gruesome death recently? The answer is, pretty amusing if the humor is allowed to flow naturally. Jamie has comical exchanges with pretty much everyone, with the issue ending on a funny line.
Multiple Man is not all about giggles, however, and the reader learns very quickly what is happening with Madrox. The answer is something that can be expected out of an X-Menbook and adds insight into Multiple Man’s power. It’s also sad and becomes even sadder after a conversation with Beast. It may be true that no one ever really dies in comics, but it’s also true that escaping death is easier said than done.
Madrox has always been full of personality and MacDonald’s art suits the character perfectly. The former member of X-Factor stands out more than any other character (as he should) and conveys a myriad of emotions. There is never a page in Multiple Man where the reader is curious as to what he is thinking. Most importantly, MacDonald’s work tells a story.
Multiple Man is detailed and inviting while also being distant at the same time. There are some great splash pages, including a particularly frightening one near the end. Those in the background are drawn in a simplistic, almost blurry manner, but still display emotion. It does a great job of putting importance on the foreground without ignoring the background.
Color artist Tamara Bonvillain does great work in a very difficult role. Since Multiple Man walks a pretty thin line between comedy and tragedy, color is very important. If Bonvillain is not careful, a light hearted scene can be made to look serious while a more somber scene may not be given the proper gravity. This becomes especially difficult since the book weaves back and forth between the two contrasting emotions — sometimes in the same panel! Bonvillain is able to artfully navigate the book’s tones while still enhancing the story with great use of shadow and lighting in the book.
As is the case with most first issues, Multiple Man #1is all about setting up the rest of the series. The mystery of how Madrox is still alive is quickly replaced with whole new questions. Multiple Man is off to an entertaining start and it will be interesting to see where it goes from here.