Written by Geoffrey Thorne
Art by Khary Randolph and Emilio Lopez
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Part Deadman, part Carmelo Anthony, the character of Mosaic feels like a quintessential Marvel concept on paper, playing on the same themes and concepts as Tony Stark or Peter Parker - Morris Sackett is a man with gifts, a man with talent, a man with an ego that’s ready to get smashed against the chaos of a Terrigen cloud. But unlike Iron Man or Spider-Man, Mosaic comes out 50 years after these revolutionary superheroes, and while artist Khary Randolph can run circles around his competition in terms of stylish visuals, writer Geoffrey Thorne hasn’t yet found the unique spark that would make this character a viable solo headliner.
From the beginning, Morris is a character who is beyond confident, beyond cocky, and already approaching the realm of no return with his all-encompassing arrogance. Thorne does an excellent job getting us inside Morris’s head as he dazzles with an exciting opening sequence on the basketball court where his hero literally calls himself “the Wizard” - but while the greatest of Marvel heroes have feet of clay, they also have a core likability that Mosaic hasn’t found yet, amidst the quick glimpses into unsatisfying celebrityhood. (While Morris’s relationship with a pop starlet seems destined to fail, however, Thorne does give us a glimpse at a fun dynamic with Mosiac’s father, who he seems desperate to please at all costs - if he delves into that in further issues, it could yield some big benefits down the line.)
But seemingly as fast as we’ve gotten to know Morris - and his overwhelming sense of superiority - he’s enveloped in a stray cloud of Terrigen Mist, and that development winds up tying Thorne’s hands behind his back. Not only is he unable to redeem Morris’s off-putting, self-absorbed characterization, but the way Mosaic tests his powers feels loose and unfocused. Since Mosaic has the sort of Deadman-style abilities of jumping from body to body (and in this case, picking up all their skills), you need a framework to not only make this vague power set make sense, but also to maintain any sense of limitations or tension - otherwise, what’s stopping Morris from just jumping into another body or finding a convenient set of skills to help him out of a jam? As Morris bounces from host to host without a solid villain to match wits against, new readers unfamiliar with body-jumping comics tropes might have some trouble catching up with the chaos, and given that Morris is kind of a tough sell to root for to begin with, that puts this debut issue at a disadvantage.
Yet if Mosaic has a real superpower, it’s in artist Khary Randolph, whose angular characters have an animated, energetic vibe that will definitely carry Mosaic far. Randolph is at his best when his characters are in motion, and Thorne’s script bookends nicely in that regard, particularly the way that Randolph shows Morris maneuvering during a big game. While Mosaic as a dark-energy-infused Inhuman isn’t the most exciting of designs, the concept does let Randolph play around with a variety of other character designs, as he has to make each of Morris’s hosts have their own unique vibe. His costume choices are particularly interesting, and small character moments - like Morris stealing a kiss from one of his host’s friends - is a gorgeous-looking image, even if the narrative specifics might be a little on the shady side. Colorist Emilio Lopez, meanwhile, is the perfect complement to Randolph’s linework, with such a beautiful sense of energy and depth to the mix - his uses of blues and purples as an accent reminds me a bit of Laura Martin, but his sense of balance on a page is all his own, making Mosaic punch far above its weight class just from the art alone.
When Marvel first announced Mosaic would be getting a standalone series, I think a healthy dose of skepticism was warranted - without the clear-cut personality of a Squirrel Girl, Wolverine, or Deadpool, it’s tough to carry your own solo series in today’s team book world, especially when the reception to the Inhumans franchise has been fairly tepid, despite Marvel’s herculean efforts to the contrary. And I will say that I’m not sure if this book has quite earned a pass from that yet - while the art on this book looks sensational, Mosaic as a character doesn’t quite come together yet, never quite coalescing as a solid concept. Morris Sackett might be a wizard on the basketball court, but he’s got a lot of ground to cover before he can save the day as Marvel’s next would-be superstar.