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Nov 15

Typhoid Fever: X-Men #1

Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

It’s the week of another X-Men relaunch, so naturally the question on everyone’s lips is: what did I think of the middle chapter of a Typhoid Mary miniseries that nobody is paying any attention to?

Because yes, this is another of those weird minis with different guest stars in every issue so that you can bill all three chapters as an issue #1.  That way, people like me will buy the middle chapter and then go off and buy the others!  Or that’s the theory.  Obviously, from the fact that I’m reviewing this as a one-shot, it didn’t work.

Part 1 of the story was Typhoid Fever: Spider-Man #1, which came out in October.  Part 3 will be Typhoid Fever: Iron Fist #1, and it comes out in December.  For maximum aggravation, nothing in the comic actually explains this.  There’s a recap page, but it doesn’t tell you where the first chapter can be found.  There’s a “To Be Continued…” caption at the end, but no indication of where to go for that.  I had to Google it.

This is a subsidiary of Disney, for heaven’s sake.  How hard is it to remember to tell people what comics the rest of the story appeared in?

So.  It’s a comic that I’m already seriously annoyed by before I’ve even started thinking about the story.  It’s written by Clay McLeod Chapman, who I think is principally a horror prose writer, but he’s done some comics work before.  The artists change on every issue, but this one has Will Robson and Danilo S Beyruth.  They’re clear enough, but the change between the two artists, a few pages from the end, is glaringly obvious.  Robson is a cartoonist by inclination, and struggles with things like flashbacks to little Mary playing with a dead pigeon; Beyruth’s sketchier style feels like it would have fitted better with that sort of material.

Typhoid is a Daredevil villain, who makes occasional detours into Deadpool.  So what she’s doing in a story with Spider-Man, the X-Men and Iron Fist is less than clear.  But regardless, the idea is that a mysterious Dr Charles has tried to cure Typhoid’s insanity by getting Amp (the kid from Iceman) to amplify her normal personality and drown out the insane Typhoid persona.  Predictably, because there wouldn’t be a story otherwise, it didn’t work, and now there’s a powered up Typhoid on the loose, whose insanity is becoming a bit contagious.

The X-Men kind of have a reason to be in this story – they’re looking for Amp.  But it still feels like a random pairing.  The result is a more or less random fight in which Typhoid tries using telepathic illusions to distract and confuse them, because we’ve not seen that before.  There’s at least a mildly inventive twist on the idea – Typhoid convinces them all that they’re in a daytime soap opera, so for a few pages everyone’s yelling melodramatic relationship nonsense instead of fighting properly.

Some sort of point starts to emerge in the closing pages, where Jean goes into Typhoid’s mind and establishes that the Typhoid persona is trying to erase Mary’s traumatic memories (and the Mary persona along with it), but it’s still all trite stuff.  Frankly, to the extent that there’s a story in here, it’s a Typhoid story, and the X-Men are a massive distraction preventing it from developing properly.  There’s probably a reasonable Typhoid story in here trying to get out, but it’s buried beneath the guest stars.

I don’t imagine many of you needed to be told that the middle chapter of a Typhoid mini was safely skippable.  But just for the record, it very much is.

Bring on the comments

  1. Dave O'Neill says:

    Iron Fist is included because…a character purporting to be Typhoid Mary was in Iron Fist Netflix.

  2. Chris V says:

    Spider Man did have a story involving Typhoid Mary somewhere during the original Spectacular Spider Man run….sometime early to mid 1990s.
    It was written by Anne Nocenti (Typhoid Mary’s creator).
    So, I guess that was the reason for a Spider Man inclusion.

    There was also a Marvel Comics Presents serial, also written by Nocenti, with an origin story for Typhoid Mary which did involve Wolverine.
    That might be the X-Men connection.
    I’m guessing Wolverine might not have been in this story though.

  3. Si says:

    I remember Typhoid Mary from the 80s, when I was writing wretched poetry and dressing as a counterculture warrior and all the other embarrassing stuff teenagers do, and I still thought “that character’s trying too hard”.

    See also: Venom See twice: Carnage

  4. Mikey says:

    I actually really liked how she was handled on the Iron Fist Netflix show. I will go one further and suggest she was even handled better than Bullseye on Daredevil, as both characters were fairly similar.

  5. Moo says:

    If Typhoid Mary ever became as popular as Venom we’d probably have spinoff characters with names like Hemmorrhoid Tracy and Dysentery Susan running around.

  6. Si says:

    Dysentery Susan is a fast runner. She fights The Whizzer and sometimes Cable.

  7. Gregory Baker says:

    Typhoid Mary, who is a mutant, was also a member of the Sisterhood of Mutants run by Lady Deathstrike to resurrect Madelyne Pryor in X-Men vol. 4.

  8. puzzled says:

    Every once in a while I come back here to see what’s up with the x books. Dear God. I bailed way too late, when it was Bendis’ turn to fail horribly at writing modern X-Men stories, but I still hope for a gem now and then. Looks to me like Marvel simply doesn’t know how to publish good superhero comics anymore, though. What happened to the House of Ideas?

    Iceman has never had a good series but the new one is very loudly screaming Death of the X-Men. And it seems like people who buy comics are listening, judging by sales. When I was a kid I dreamed up a gay mutant character (Northstar of Alpha Flight didn’t count to me), a complete Gambit rip-off. It never occurred to me to just convert a hetero one. Granted, it was a salvageable misfire but one would need a deft hand to thoughtfully make it work. Instead we got hot acid to the senses. I’m gay. Never ever have I seen such a cliche as Iceman, outside of a Pride after-party where it was just another affectation in good fun. It would be offensive if it wasn’t so laughable. It’s like the idea of a gay man from the mind of a teen girl fan of Rupaul’s Drag Race. I get that these men probably do exist off tumblr but I would prefer we got a respectable gay character before they brought in the clowns. Look at Midnighter. Great recent series, great character.

    Here’s hoping for a hard reboot of the whole line. Quarantine the x books, take X-Men Forever’s original remit and just start again from 1991. Maybe give better incentives to hire quality creators, focus on story and character. Re-imagine (and tell properly) the few story highlights, incorporate some of the newer, interesting characters, avoid the shock schlock. I’m not saying there haven’t been any good runs, obviously. Morrison, Whedon, Remender, Milligan (not his adjectiveless), Gillen if he hadn’t had to deal with such a shitty status quo, to name a few on the main books.

    The floppy is dying anyway—may as well go out swinging.

  9. puzzled says:

    Oh, and Northstar has had some nice stuff once they brought him into the x books, and Rictor from X-Factor v3 was a very believable character, especially in the early issues where he’s kind of a down and out slob who says the wrong thing a lot but isn’t quite a jerk. And that’s one character whose sexuality made sense with what’s come before (rebellious twink with a mohawk in X-Factor v1, closeted gay guy “attracted” to the non-threatening Rahne, the bisexual Test with Rahne, Shatterstar bromance-cum-romance.)

  10. Chris V says:

    I guess Typhoid Mary is meant to be a mutant now. I forgot about that whole Sisterhood story.
    To be fair though, Lady Deathstrike was the leader of the Sisterhood, and she’s not a mutant.

    I’m pretty sure Nocenti never intended for her to be a mutant though.
    If I remember the Marvel Comics Presents story-arc correctly, she was a victim of the MK-Ultra program of the CIA.

    I don’t think she was meant to be part of something like Weapon X, in the story, even though it co-starred Wolverine.

  11. shandrakor says:

    She was a mutant before the Sisterhood story — back during The Initiative, there was a mysterious black ops character called Mutant Zero that was eventually revealed to be Typhoid.

  12. Nu-D says:

    I always liked Typhoid, for her early Nocenti stories in DD to her Bendis stories in DD. Never thought she really belonged anywhere other than Marvel’s “street level” books, though. She was a perfect choice for the Netflix shows.

  13. Karl Hiller says:

    There was an amusing one-page bit in the recent Cloak & Dagger mini in which the villain of the piece uses his telepathic illusions to convince Dagger she’s in a TV cop show, spouting out cliche gunfight zingers, capped with her realizing “no one talks like this!”

  14. Sol says:

    puzzled, I’m treating the X-men the same way I have for the last… 20? years. There’s one (occasionally two) books I want to read, and the rest I do my best to pretend do not exist.

    At the moment, I’m reasonably happy with X-men Red, which feels like a nice attempt to recapture some of the spirit of the best bits of the Grant Morrison run. I peeked at X-men Gold when it started, but despite including most of my favorite characters, I thought it was fairly dire. Don’t think I’ve even bothered to read any of the other books since the most recent relaunch, though maybe I’m forgetting something. (Ooo, have enjoyed some of the Rogue & Gambit stuff — but not enough to remember to keep on getting the latest series of theirs.)

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