“The Chicago Whey”
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Pablo Raimondi (p), Drew Hennessy (i)
As Jamie continues his investigation of why one of his dupes was murdered in Chicago, we see the trail leads to the wife of a rich business man with rumoured ties to the mob. As Jamie pays a visit on this woman hoping to learn more information, we see back in New York the dupe he left to run his private investigation firm is targeted by a hired assassin who seems to draw great delight from the idea that he's been given a target that he can kill over and over again.
My favourite development in this issue is the idea that Jamie's dupes would sport different personalities, as how can one not smile at the scene where his dupes are debating the merits of breaking into the grounds of a multi-million dollar industrialist with alleged ties to the mob. In fact I love the idea that the dupes reflect different aspects of Jamie's, and while the homosexual dupe scene was a rather obvious gag, it did make me smile nonetheless. This issue also offers up a couple nice moments where Jamie's power is on display, as I rather enjoyed the scene where Jamie gets into a fight with the belligerent thug, and his formation of the human pyramid to get over the outer wall made for a cute display. The issue also offers up an amusing poke at one of Grant Morrison's more radical X-Men plots, as back in New York Jamie's double is called upon to investigate a cheating husband who is having an extramarital fling on the astral plane. In fact if this little side plot has done anything it's that it's opened my eyes to the rather wide potential that is available to a writer whose main character is a private investigator within the Marvel Universe, though to be fair it should be noted that Brian Michael Bendis did walk this path first in the pages of "Alias". Still, it's nice to see Peter David is aware of the idea that Jamie's new job is full of opportunities for off the wall investigations, as the main plot has the character tackling a pretty straight forward murder investigation.
The art of Pablo Raimondi does a great job of capturing the darker elements of this issue's plot, while at the same time he's also quite effective when it comes to the delivery the visual gags of the story, such as the scene where Jamie's power surfaces during the opening fight. There's also a pretty cute display of dark humour as we see the assassin is called while in the middle of an assignment. The art also does some nice work when it comes to the facial expressions of the characters, from Jamie's look of frustration as one of his dupes points out that they're committing an illegal act, to his pained expression on the final pages when one of his dupes is killed. There's also a number of fun little details from the varied expressions on the dupes' faces as Jamie clambers up them, to the newspaper headline on the security guard's paper.
Marvel Comics’ Madrox continues to entertain and intrigue.
Jamie Madrox, “The Multiple Man” and former member of X-Factor, has the mutant ability to create duplicates of himself upon physical impact (getting punched, smacking his hand against a wall). It’s not the most powerful mutant ability you’ve ever heard of, but it’s certainly one of the most interesting because one has to ponder how the duplicates perceive and relate to the “genuine” Jamie Madrox. In this series Madrox’s dupes exhibit varying dominant personality traits, seemingly disconnected to Madrox’s own personality. So while the genuine Madrox is flippant yet focused, his dupes are sensitive or vindictive or sanctimonious or lazy or apathetic. Even Madrox admits some of his dupes are “hitting new heights of erratic behavior.” Are these dupes truly exhibiting traits absent in Madrox, or are they exaggerating submerged aspects of Madrox’s personality? Again, the mutant ability raises interesting questions as well as sets up some humorous scenarios as Madrox constantly squabbles with his dupes.
Speaking of humor, it is of course a prevailing element of just about any Peter David-written comic book, but in this series the humor works side-by-side with the film noir plot rather than overwhelms it. Madrox heads to Chicago to investigate the murder of one of his dupes who mysteriously died in the first issue. While he digs for clues in Chicago, a tattooed covered hit man targets his dupe in New York. Throughout most of the issue, colorist Brian Reber provides an appropriate bluish-gray palette, and penciller Pablo Raimondi’s facial expressions perfectly deliver David’s dialogue and puns.
So Madrox presents a charismatic, wise-cracking protagonist with a fascinating mutant ability caught up in a film noir murder mystery executed with effectively humorous dialogue in a story completely detached from the headache-inducing X-Men continuity…
And why aren’t you buying this comic book?
Madrox arrives in Chicago to find his informant reporter Stringer, and work out why his dupe here was attacked. His attacker is revealed as the mysterious hit man Clay, who is informed by his employer that he needs to kill the original Madrox and all his duplicates to complete his mission. Madrox discovers that his duplicate in Chicago was keeping busy with a lady named Sheila Desoto. During which the dupe he left in Mutant Town decides to keep the Private Investigator business going, only to be shot in the head by Clay just after picking up a case.
David's first issue was brilliant after taking on a character as small in Marvel's world as Madrox (it’s clear that his experience with Jamie in X-Factor has really helped him in this respect) and it’s good to see he maintains this in the current issue. While creating a comedic tone for this issue he has at the same time crafted a nifty little tale ripe with suspense and mystery. This issue keeps the pace of the first one and does not disappoint as the laughs hit you right from the start. From the 'Noir' standoff with the thugs, to the witty banter with Stringer and finally his frustration and annoyance with his own duplicates, this comic is wholly entertaining from start to finish. I liked how we are shown that Madrox's duplicates are not just clones of him but have their own personalities and faults (something I didn't expect), and how you see him use the knowledge gained from one of his previous 'explorer' dupes. The mystery is really starting to unfold nicely as well and we begin to ask why is Clay hired to kill Jamie and what does this have to do with Sheila Desoto?
Like last issue, the art looks great as it really doesn't look like a traditional superhero comic at all; this complements the writing as it seems more like a crime series or drama at the moment. Jamie is drawn perfectly with his cool laid back demeanor and nifty t-shirt, Guido has his classic 'gentle giant' look and Stringer actually looks a lot like Steve Buscemi, which is perfect for the character. The cover (by David Lloyd), showing Madrox with his dupes behind him, depicts the kind of story this going to be inside perfectly.
Out of all the stand alone hero series that Marvel has at the moment (and they do have a lot, don't they?) this is clearly one of the better ones on the shelves. If you can find the first one I would recommend to you that you pick up the rest of this series if you are looking for something a little more light hearted and fun.
Jamie Madrox continues to investigate the deaths of one of his selves, while running a low-rent detective agency in Mutant Town. His powers continue to act unpredictably, as his duplicates are developing more individual personalities (not to mention humorous gay tendencies).
This would be a standard murder mystery/whodunit, more or less along the film noir lines of the last Hawkeye series. But David has a sci-fi writer’s imagination, and is more than willing to run with the powers of the mutant cast that fills this X-offshoot book. Madrox himself is certainly more interesting than he’s ever been, not just a pretty goofball but also a bit of a rogue and screwup with Bogie affectations. David is quite inventive with the skill and experience set afforded someone who can live multiple lives simultaneously. He also plays fast and loose with what these divergent selves can and cannot remember when they rejoin, but maybe that’s par for the course in a quasi-serious farce like this.
Raimondi’s art is somewhat stiff in action sequences, but his character designs are distinctive, especially for a deadly killer on Jamie’s trail. He gives Madrox’s reporter ally Steve Buscemi’s face (this alongside doppelgangers for John C. Reilly and John Travolta in recent X-books, and Ultimate Sam Jackson; when’s Michael Madsen showing up?), perfectly fitting his put-upon character.
The assassin is deadly, and when he targets one of the multiple Madroxes, the question becomes, just which one is the copy, after all? Endless permutations possible on this concept, and an interesting plot challenge in that the main character can easily be two or more places at once. Not sure when David will have room for this supporting cast with so many leads, but this launch is an entertaining yarn already.
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