M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #1 Review

by Charles Martin on December 02, 2020

M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #1 Review
Writers: Jordan Blum & Patton Oswalt
Artist: Scott Hepburn
Colourist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics

M.O.D.O.K. is back! And so is his parent organization, Advanced Idea Mechanics. A.I.M. has often been splintered, defeated, and even destroyed. But now the organization has returned in a big way, unified and working towards an ominous, mysterious goal.

M.O.D.O.K. is a part of the effort, but he's got a little problem. His computerized, murder-minded intellect is plagued with dreams of a nonexistent family.

Those dreams distract M.O.D.O.K. during a key techno-heist, costing A.I.M. some valuable Stark loot and giving Monica Rappaccini the opening she needs to attempt to forcibly retire her giant-headed rival.

This issue's serving of action is capably filled out by the power struggle between the two mad scientists. Of course, it doesn't stay in the boardroom long; lots of murderous gadgetry makes for an inventive and explosive conflict. M.O.D.O.K. escapes and in the final scene, he turns to an unlikely ally.

Scott Hepburn's chunky cartoon-style art is ideal for this villainous story. He honours the irrepressible Kirby roots of the main character and creates a whole world around him that fits his look. This art is grotesque in the best possible way, exaggerating just the right features while grounding the action with scrupulous technological detail. (The over-the-top gunned-up War Machine in the initial scene is the icing on the cake.)

Carlos Lopez's palette serves the art well, splashing vibrant colour onto the characters and adding great texture to the settings. All of the zappy action in the fight scenes comes across particularly well, managing to stand out even against the high-intensity character colours.

Writers Jordan Blum and Patton Oswalt chart out an ideal course for a M.O.D.O.K. book, packing in plenty of action while firmly settling the point of view inside that gargantuan cranium. The portrait of M.O.D.O.K. that emerges is nuanced and even sympathetic, without turning the character into a hero. 

The dreams that are distracting M.O.D.O.K. are fascinating. In them, he has an ordinary wife and a happy suburban home, along with two kids: one normal and one with the signature M.O.D.O.K. design (she's adorable, of course). Even as he doubts the reality of these memories, he's awed by their depth and detail.

This contributes perfectly to the overall characterization of the protagonist. M.O.D.O.K. is an engine of ego, always confident and always proud. But the edges of that ego are eroding under the influence of self-doubt and those troubling dreams. This is why it's easy to root for M.O.D.O.K. in this comic even though he remains thoroughly and unrepentantly evil.

M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games gets off to a compelling, action-heavy start. Spectacular artwork puts a real punch in the fight scenes, while adept writing balances out the combat with a nuanced portrayal of the villainous lead. M.O.D.O.K. is an inherently ridiculous character, but these creators handle him with heart as well as humour. The result is a thoroughly endearing portrait that cries out for continuation.

Our Score:


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I see you, tiny flashback panel to Unbelievable Gwenpool! And I also see you, shout-out to the ridiculous theme song from the 60s Iron Man cartoon!