Marvel Comics is releasing their three-part Typhoid Mary mini-crossover this week in comic shops. It’s a story that has a Spider-Man, Iron Fist, and X-Men issue all written by Clay McLeod Chapman and delving into the Daredevil villain. She’s a character I hardly know, but when you consider her powers it’s a surprise she’s not used more often. From pyrokinesis, telekineses, agility, fighting ability to mind control powers you’d think she could be as powerful as the best villains. In this collection, Chapman postulates: Maybe there is a reason why she hasn’t been used more often?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Typhoid Mary sets her sights on Hell’s Kitchen in this action-packed epic! With Daredevil preoccupied trying to take down Mayor Fisk, a power vacuum has suddenly formed in Manhattan’s most dangerous neighborhood, and Typhoid Mary aims to fi ll it with her own unique brand of chaos. But Daredevil isn’t the only guardian watching over the Kitchen’s residents… and SPIDER-MAN is going to prove it!
Why does this matter?
If you enjoy deep dives into the psychology of villains you’re going to want to read this. Chapman reveals why this character has changed, but also key moments in her childhood that made her who she is today.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
After reading this I can picture Chapman pitching this story in Marvel editor Devin Lewis’ office and blowing him away. Somewhat like the hit FX show Legion, this story hinges on the mind-bending powers and how that can change your perception of reality. Throughout this collection, Typhoid Mary drops the heroes into different TV show worlds. Some are soap operas like the one she was in at an earlier age, but others are horror shows and even pirate adventures. Chapman has Typhoid Mary subdue and defeat the heroes via reality-altering fantasies. That allows for some imaginative scenes like Spider-Man in bed with Typhoid Mary unsure, but rolling with the scene, or Iron Fist sharing a rope on a pirate ship. In a lot of ways, this three-part story could be an excellent miniseries if done right.
The art is split for each issue, jumping from Stefano Landini’s work on Spider-Man to Will Robson and Danilo S. Beyruth’s work on X-Men, and finally Paolo Villanelli’s work on Iron Fist. Due to the episodic adventures Tyhpoid Mary spins for the heroes, it’s not too jarring when the artist changes and each story picks up where the last left off as if we’re joining the story after a commercial break. The opening and closing stories are a bit more grounded and dark in tone suiting the tragic story unfolding. Midway through the X-Men story mixes in a cartoony look that suits Typhoid Mary’s kid scenes.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
A lot, and I mean a lot of Typhoid Mary’s internal monologue is nonsensical and confused. This works for a little while to reveal how mixed up she is, but it grows tiresome quickly. Put simply, it’s overstuffed, requiring the reader to muddle through her thoughts, observations, and understandings. It’s as if we’re living in her head in real time, like the writer is attempting to crack this nut and figure it out with us. Upon reflection, it’s more noise than it needs to be, never really saying anything about the character. She must endure and beat those who transgressed her, working out her surroundings and confusion at the moment. This is particularly odd when the captions suggest we should feel sorry for her, even if she ends up finding some truth and using it to kill seemingly innocent folks. By the end of the story, it’s clear there is some kind of retribution being made for the character, but I’m not sure it works very well considering we, and Typhoid Mary at that, are still attempting to make sense of what just occurred. The fact that the story ends with the heroes giving up the chase to find her because they need to clean up the damage done is laughable too.
Is it good?
There are good intentions, ideas, and a fantastic first draft in this collection. I admire what it’s trying to do, but it doesn’t pull it off well enough to recommend it as a must read. If you’re patient and can get through the sometimes boring and confusing parts, though, it’s worth a look.
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