Remember The Marvel Swimsuit Special? You Will After Reading Multiple Man #4

by James Ferguson

Jamie Madrox has been bouncing through time trying to fix his own mistakes. Somehow, in the future, he turns into a tyrannical leader, ruling with an army of dupes. In an effort to prevent this, Jamie sent a few dupes into the timestream to gather the Avengers or any other heroes that could help and bring them back. We already know the end result of that as the dupes returned with new powers in the form of classic Marvel characters. In Multiple Man #4, we learn how that all happened, filling in a few gaps in this story.

In the scheme of things, this backstory isn’t entirely necessary, but I’m so glad that writer Matthew Rosenberg included it. This book already has a bunch of twists and turns and a healthy amount of confusion thanks to time travel and all the dupes. These additional details smooth things out a little and add plenty of laughs and Easter eggs for us to enjoy.

Rosenberg weaves the story through the existing narrative, jumping all the way back to the first issue and updating accordingly. Plus, we get the incredible alternate versions of popular characters, such as Doctor Stark, the Sorcerer Supreme and his butler, Nightcrawler.

See, the dupes that Jamie sent out to find the Avengers ended up in a variety of alternate timelines including 2099, Old Man Logan, and, perhaps the strangest of all, the Marvel Swimsuit Special. This is perhaps the most hilarious and bizarre nod to previous Marvel work ever and it is so awesome. The Marvel Swimsuit Special is this crazy book that came out in the ’90s that is basically exactly what it sounds like. Artist Andy MacDonald even included the Punisher and his gigantic skull Speedo.

Each new locale has a different look and feel, established by colorist Tamra Bonvillain. Most are in the dystopian landscape, so there’s a dark and dreary tone, however the Swimsuit Special one is bright and sunny for obvious reasons.

MacDonald does a tremendous job with Multiple Man #4, especially when we return to the time period of the first issue. There’s one page with TWENTY panels on it. Each one is a headshot of a character pushing the plot forward at a breakneck pace with some very fast dialogue. Every panel is unique. None are reused, so you get a variety of facial expressions that add to the quirky humor that has come to define this book.

Somehow letterer Travis Lanham packs this page with word balloons, but they’re never crowding the artwork. The sequence doesn’t feel too text-heavy. Instead, it flows very well, moving quickly from panel to panel in this seamless transition.

The comedy is a healthy mix of fun dialogue and amazing sight gags. It borders on absurdity, but that’s just the world that Jamie Madrox lives in. His very existence is absurd so those are the kinds of adventures he finds himself in. It’s gotten to the point where he isn’t shocked by it and just goes with the flow, however the people around him are still in shock as to how this guy can get into such insane situations.

Every issue of Multiple Man so far has ended on a jaw-dropping cliffhanger and this one is no different. It’s taken a number of unexpected twists and turns and I have no idea where it’s going to go as we head into the final issue. That right there is the only downside to this book. This is a limited series and that is an absolute shame. Multiple Man is a fun comic, dealing with the odder aspects of the Marvel Universe from the perspective of a character who can literally be anywhere and experience everything. It’s the kind of comic that anyone can jump into, whether you’re a lifetime fan or someone just starting out.

Multiple Man #4 from Marvel Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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