Review: 'Multiple Man' #1 Is an Escalating and Exuberant Crisis of Multiple Madrox

Following his undignified demise in Death of X, Jamie Madrox is back - sort of - in the new five-issue Multiple Man miniseries from writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Andy MacDonald. The series’ first issue will probably leave fans with more questions than answers, but there’s still plenty to celebrate.

Multiple Man brings Jamie back but doesn’t actually bring Jamie back. Jamie Prime is dead and will remain so for now. Multiple Man gets around this issue by revealing that one of Jamie’s dupes, one with at least as a small knack for science, happened to be in some sort of isolation chamber when the other Jamies died. Because of this, the dupe managed to remain alive, but possibly not for much longer.

With the matter of Jamie’s resurrection at least tabled, for now, Rosenberg and MacDonald set Jamie about his old antics. And by old, we mean vintage. This is less Jamie Madrox circa Peter David’s early-2000s X-Factor run, where Madrox was written as a conflicted leader struggling with his new role and maturity, and more Jamie Madrox circa Peter David’s early 1990s X-Factor run, where Jamie was a carefree prankster with little if any sense of responsibility. Whether this reversion in character is due to the fact that this is a dupe and not Jamie-prime remains to be seen.

Multiple Man #1
(Photo: Andy MacDonald, Tamra Bonvillain, Marvel Entertainment)

But that’s just based on what we see of Jamie on the pages of Multiple Man #1. It seems like quite a bit may have occurred off-panel. In addition to dealing with the usual comedic episodes that crop up from having Jamie Madrox and his dupes running free, the issue also throws time travel into the mix to ramp up the farcical comedy, a combination that’s perfectly summed up by this exchange with Beast just after one time-traveling Jamie Madrox leaps out of a portal to tackle and then absorb another:

“JAMIE: Brace Yourself. I’m from the future.

BEAST: ...When I spoke to you twenty minutes ago, you said you weren’t a time-traveler.

JAMIE: I wasn’t then.”

Things actually escalate further from there, but to describe how and in what way would be to spoil the fun. The fast-paced and funny shenanigans more than make up for the relatively low-stakes of it all, though there are hints that the stakes too will climb in future issues.

MacDonald’s artwork sets the tone well. He draws Madrox and most of the other characters with a particularly youthful look and seems reluctant to add extra lines to his figures. On the other hand, he does make use action lines as a background during moments of action, a technique most often seen in Japanese manga that adds extra emphasis the characters in the panel and the actions they are taking. The judicial use of this techniques works well when the issue shifts from quippy, back and forth dialogue to sudden and unexpected violence, further emphasizing the way things around Jamie are quickly spiraling into chaos. Colorist Tamra Bonvillain adds to the tone by using bright, primary colors laid on thick, giving the book a nearly cartoon-like sheen that matches the near-slapstick events taking place.

By the time the issue is over, readers will likely still not be sure what exactly this Multiple Man series is about, and to a certain degree that’s part of the charm. By the time the last page hits, there’s a collective sense of “well, that escalated quickly,” but it is said with a smile. The manner of Jamie’s return may linger in the back of some longtime fans’ minds, but Rosenberg has earned at least a little faith after how he brought Phoenix Resurrection together over the course of its five issues, and this is already a stronger start than that series had.

By the time readers are done with Multiple Man #1, they may not be entirely sure what just happened or where they're headed, but they'll almost certainly have enjoyed the ride and be looking forward to more.

Published by Marvel Comics

On June 27, 2018

Written by Matthew Rosenberg

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Art by Andy MacDonald

Colors by Tamra Bonvillain