Writer – Ed Brisson; Artist – Adam Gorham; Colorist – Veronica Gandini; Letterer – VC’s Cory Petit: Editor – Jake Thomas; Assistant Editor – Lindsey Cohick
Contagion is at an end with issue #5. This is unfortunate because it was a fun mini event that seems to have passed with little fanfare. The story up to issue 5, for those that haven’t read, is about a magical fungus/virus from K’un-Lun called The Urchin taking over NYC by infecting people and enslaving them to fight/infect others. Marvel’s heroes (notably the Avengers and Fantastic Four) team up but The Urchin quickly defeats them and draws them into the hive-minded servitude. The result is Jessica Jones, the Thing, Iron Fist (Danny and Pei), Moon Knight, Señor Mágico, and a few other street level heroes/villains are the last stand. After martial fighting without effect, the only hope is for Moon Knight to enter the monster and try to fight it mentally. (The plot of this issue is in the same vein as Moon Knight 196 for those familiar.)
Ed Brisson helmed this issue and the whole series. Having him writing Iron Fist again is always cause for celebration. He did a great job last time, as good as it ever has been combining the feel and lore of the original with some of Brubaker’s and Swierczynski’s world building. This time he has also incorporated more of the world building for Kaare Andrews’ run, having Sparrow and the newest Iron Fist Pei play major roles in the plot. We also see him incorporate Señor Mágico from the last Power Man and Iron Fist run from 2016. So, for long time fans of Iron Fist and the K’un-Lun mythos that have been waiting for more, this is a great “fix”. Contagion on the whole is very compelling with good characterization of under-appreciated characters and issue five is no different. There are some classic Moon Knight scenes, this being largely his issue, and the way the whole ensemble interacts with Pei is very fun. Since her inception, she has been getting more interesting characterization; Andrew’s online run for example springs to mind, and it is satisfying to see her continue to develop. The only gripe is the ending feels a little rushed, though that may be because it is rather simple and there was no need to drag it out. Also, Brisson did mention in his letter at the end of issue 1 how his love of old horror movies inspired this series, so it is likely the classic horror movie ending is intentional.
The art in Contagion #5 is by Adam Gorham with colors by Veronica Gandini. This issue looks very good. The Urchin is definitely creepy and diseased looking to the point where the viewer gets an itch just by looking at it. Gandini’s use of these dynamically, solid colored backgrounds as opposed to the more traditional, realistic skyscrapers give the book a very ‘comic book’ feel that is apropos for the Marvel horror movie subject matter. Then, once Moon Knight is “inside” the beast, the comic takes on a more surrealist view that works very well given Brisson’s plot line. This book shows Gorham is a very flexible artist, able to adapt to the material well and Gandini’s colors make all of this work. Her use of sickly greens, blues, and yellows with fleshy reds and pinks make the villain feel dangerous, monstrous, and contagious. Her look for Johnny Storm can also be called nothing short of fantastic (Puns intended). There are a few minor issues, but overall solid work.
This event may not be the next Civil War, but Contagion #5 is part of one of Marvel’s most fun crossover events in years. It is small in length but not scale, which fits our street level protagonists perfectly. A great read just in time for Halloween that can help tide-over Moon Knight and Iron Fist fans that are waiting for a new series.