Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Rogê Antônio
Colorist: Veronica Gandini
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artists: Juan José Ryp, Jesus Aburtov
Editor: Jake Thomas
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Something sinister is creeping throughout the Marvel Universe in this week’s Contagion #1, and it could prove potentially fatal for all those involved.
Contagion is something of an oddity for Marvel. It’s a standalone quasi-event that’s not focused on any particular character or team, is contained to a single title, and won’t spawn any offshoot tie-ins. That’s pretty rare for the company. By contrast, Jonathan Hickman’s House/Powers of X will lead into the reinvigorated X-Men line, Absolute Carnage is still raging on, and Marvel Comics #1000 apparently sets up whatever Incoming is. So what about Contagion, then?
In the backmatter of the issue, writer Ed Brisson explains he’s always loved superheroes and horror, both of which inspired Contagion. It’s a fairly simple premise: some sort of hazardous, contagious disease is infecting people in the Marvel Universe, leaving its various heroes (and villains) to figure out why it’s happening and how to stop it. Think of it as 28 Days Later meets Marvel. (The series will also be published weekly throughout the month, fittingly ending the day before Halloween.)
Based on solicitations, it seems Contagion will focus on specific characters for each of its issues. Issue one features Ben Grimm — the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing himself — while future installments have Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Moon Knight, and The Avengers on their covers. In this first issue, Thing helps a local youth recover his missing sister, who has unfortunately been infected by the mystery disease. Meanwhile, in K’un-Lun, the root of the problem seems to have taken foot, prompting them to send for Danny Rand — the Immortal Iron Fist — to help investigate. Thing is a good option to open a story like this, since he’s intrinsically linked to the smaller scale of Yancy Street, grounding what is otherwise a bigger, all-encompassing plot. Brisson nails the voice of Ben as well as the Fantastic Four (and Mole Man!) which makes for an entertaining reading experience.
Though a horror-tinged story, Contagion #1 is fairly tame in tone, and likely won’t disturb or put off potential readers. A lot of this comes down to Rogê Antônio’s art, which is much more in line with the style seen in the current Fantastic Four run by the likes of Sara Pichelli and co. than, say, Ryan Stegman’s eerie work in the aforementioned Absolute Carnage. It’s not a bad thing, per se, but it definitely doesn’t convey the monster mayhem as much as you’d expect. The forthcoming issues have been solicited with different artists on each, so it’ll be interesting to see how they affect the vibe of Brisson’s story moving forward.