Story: Alex Ross & Jim Krueger
Script: Jim Krueger
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Covers: Alex Ross; Well-Bee
Release Date: February 12th, 2020
Last boy on earth Kamandi, er, DAVID, makes his way to New York with mysterious trucker “John.” Will David find the superheroes he is so desperately looking for? Will John enter an arm-wrestling competition and win a new big rig? Let’s find out in Jim Krueger & Alex Ross’ MARVELS X #2!
The issue opens with a nice splash page of Spider-Man holding up the weight of well over half a dozen references of his villains in the old-school comics style we saw in the first issue of MARVLES X. David narrates over the page with the things he admires about Spidey, namely his strength, both outer and inner. It works well as an opener and sets up a later meeting nicely, and it’s just plain fun picking out the bits from classic villains on the page. It’s also the best piece of art in the book— unfortunately it’s pretty much all downhill from here.
The story really begins with David waking up in the truck he hitched a ride with in Ohio, now on the outskirts of New York City. Mystery driver John informs him and the readers that David slept through three states, and then starts dropping clues as to who he really is. The “No Fear” hat (and dialogue at points), dark glasses, and red hair may point to a character we will meet later, but as the two drive into a tunnel and get swarmed by the infected John reveals his true identity— Ghost Rider. The reveal is pretty cool but it’s a bit disappointing how muddy the art is in the tunnel scenes. David’s reaction of running away also seems a bit off for a couple of reasons. First, Jim Krueger and Alex Ross have established that this kid knows his superheroes, so it stands to reason he would have at least heard of Ghost Rider. Also, even though Ghost Rider had hid his identity to David, he had been nothing but helpful to him throughout their time together. The only reason he “flamed on” was to protect David in the tunnel. Ross and Krueger’s explanations of David thinking it was one of the demons his grandma talked about, and Ghost Rider lamenting that no one remembers the Champions just felt forced and lame.
At any rate, David is now in the hellhole that NYC has become and quickly dons his Green Goblin mask to blend in with the other freaky-deeks. The way this stupid mask acts like Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility for David, keeping him from being looked at twice by any of the multitude of marauding mutants, is a pretty big plot hole. David decides he would be better off not on the streets and takes to the roof of a building via a ladder. Only he’s not alone. He can feel something hunting him. Krueger and Ross manage to make this scene legit scary, and the reader can’t help but feel pity for David as he hunches in the shadows, rain pouring down, praying for one of his heroes to take a break from saving the world and save him. Luckily, in a couple of decent Well-Bee panels one does, and David survives the night.
In the morning David heads into a grocery store and gets accosted by some infected thugs. Luckily Spidey shows up and saves the day, then whisks an amazed David back to his place. We meet Peter’s daughter May, who sports a bowl cut Moe Howard would be jealous of, and learn that Mary Jane has died. Daredevil shows up and we find out why the heroes were protecting David and ushering him to New York all along. Well-Bee’s art takes a real nosedive in the closing pages, and Ross & Krueger’s heavy-handed final Daredevil speech doesn’t do anything to assuage it.
MARVELS X #2 is a rather disappointing follow-up to a decent first issue. The very human story of a boy losing his family feels overshadowed by the bombastic goings-on of the infected and superheroes. What started out as something unique now feels like just another superhero story, but hopefully Alex Ross & Jim Krueger can recapture the emotion from issue one moving forward.