M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games is a four-issue story that likely could have sustained 30. Written by Patton Oswalt and Jordan Blum, the book has an intense sense of humor and fabulous visual humor thanks to Scott Hepburn with colors by Carlos Lopez. Oh, and it somewhat ties into the TV show, which was pretty darn good too. Out this week in comic book shops is the collected edition with a few extras that’s worth picking up.
This is an average-sized trade paperback at 120 pages. It contains the entire “Head Games” story arc as well as M.O.D.O.K: Reign Delay One-Shot (2009) and Fall of the Hulks: M.O.D.O.K. Digital (2010). Thankfully, you get a lot of bang for your buck as each issue is packed with jokes in the foreground and background.
If you’ve been tracking M.O.D.O.K. stories you know he’s been written as a dangerous villain, but in many cases he’s a joke. This is flat-out one of the best takes on M.O.D.O.K. yet. He’s over the top, sure, but he’s also quite serious and has a point when it comes to folks trying to kill him. His mathematical brain allows for some unique humor as he calculates the impossibility of succeeding with the various options he might have. Hepburn even makes him look formidable and quite cool when in most cases he’s a freakish and scary sort of character. All in all, this is a good blend of humor and seriousness that packs quite a punch.
The root of the story revolves around M.O.D.O.K. somehow having memories of a family, however strange that may seem. We’re talking perfect domestic home and everything. This affects his day job at A.I.M. and soon he’s tussling with friend and foe. The writing is clever, with good cutaways and ideas when it comes to M.O.D.O.K.’s weaponry, and the weaponry of A.I.M. for that matter.
Outside of good storytelling techniques and a solid pace, Hepburn does a fabulous job showing the intricacies of M.O.D.O.K.’s brain and his tiny arms. These little details make his appearance a little more believable, like he’s a hunk of super technology rather than a head with bits of tech added on. His personality works well too, never letting us forget there’s a man in there and never reducing him to simple rage or anger. Good character development works elsewhere as well, like with Tony Stark, who has the perfect amount of casual overconfidence.
For a zany series like this, one might assume the hijinks don’t matter, but there’s a purpose to it all you might not expect. Outside of wanting M.O.D.O.K. to figure out if his family is real or made up, you’ll root for M.O.D.O.K. and Iron Man to pull through thanks to their rapport in the second issue. This is material that will likely be too zany and out there for some though, but given the title character, you should know what you’re getting into.
The two one-shot stories are both by Ryan Dunlavey, who you might know from his Action Philosophers comics. “Reign Delay” sees M.O.D.O.K. head back to his home, attend a high school reunion, and even get a swirly. The Fall of the Hulks one-shot is equally zany and way over the top. You can read a preview to see what I mean.
M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games is an anti-hero story that’s hard to resist. If you’re looking for riotous, violent escapism with infectious energy, you can’t go wrong with this series. This collection also has two easily missed stories that practically turns M.O.D.O.K. into a cartoon.
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