Typhoid Fever: X-Men #1
The X-Men face off against Typhoid Mary, who has recently escaped from a hospital (with a patient whose powers boost the range and effectiveness of her own psionic abilities in tow) and she has begun her flaming-pigeon-based assault on the people of New York. The X-Men (led by Jean Grey — and featuring the core team of characters who will soon be headline the relaunch of the Uncanny brand) fly into action. They become enmeshed in Mary's soap-opera fantasy, but break free, only for Typhoid to be 'rescued’ by a mind-controlled Spiderman.
This was a fun, jam-packed adventure that serves as the middle book of a three-issue limited series. The style was cartoonish (more on that, in a bit) but the dialogue was generally very good and Typhoid Mary was written with a surprising amount of sympathy. This sympathy was provided by a glimpse of her childhood and her own tragic misinterpretation of her own abilities when she mistook her TK and pyrokinesis for the ability to bring a dead bird back to life. But this sympathy was not intended to set the tone of the book. It’s just there: a little salt adding tang to the bubblegum.
The point of this issue was to have fun. And it delivered. It was entertaining to see Jean, Bishop and Storm swept up in a fantasy lifted from the worst pages of a Days of Our Lives or Neighbours script.
It was good to see Nightcrawler and Jean furthering the friendship-bond which has formed the spine of X-Men: Red. (Note to Marvel editors: please don’t hook them up. They work very well as platonic friends, Jean deserves a break from heterosexual male drama, and pairing Kurt with Rachel was creepy enough as it stood..)
And the scene when Mary was attempting to seduce Bobby Drake was the best kind of awkward.
I loved that both writer and artist really leaned into the cheesy fun of the premise. This is not the Typhoid Mary best known for battling Daredevil but, whoever she is, she’s a great deal of fun.
Now. On to the negatives. First, it’s a little late in the existence of humanity for readers to enjoy depictions of the mentally ill (and the treatments given to them) as objects of horror, danger, or derision. Recent storylines given to the Scarlet Witch (among others) have proven that ‘has a mental illness’ need not be a character’s primary personality trait. There isn’t a universe in which ‘loonies escape from the mental bin and are threats which the psychologically normal must subdue’ is not an offensive plot point. The fact that the end result of this take, this issue, was fun doesn’t detract from that fact.
On a much less serious level, the art in this issue didn’t really work for me. It was cartoony (which was fine — it worked with the tone) but there were a lot of inconsistencies in the bodies and faces of the characters that proved a little distracting. It was an annoyance rather than a real flaw. And it’s always fun to see Spiderman wisecracking with a mind-controll hangover.
These points aside, Typhoid Fever: X-Men #1 was an enjoyable book.
This book is an action-packed entertainment gumball, undermined (in part) by an unfortunate take on mental illness. Nevertheless, the overblown, soap-opera elements were a lot of fun.
Typhoid Fever: X-Men #1 Mary, Mary; Quite Contrary or Let Loose The Flaming Pigeons of War!
- Writing - 7.5/107.5/10
- Storyline - 6.5/106.5/10
- Art - 7/107/10
- Color - 7/107/10
- Cover Art - 8/108/10
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