Strange memories are haunting members of The Defenders, memories that may hold the key to stopping their next adversaries The Mighty Avengers. Your Major Spoiler review of Tarot #1 from Marvel Comics awaits!
Writer: Alan Davis
Artist: Paul Renaud
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: January 1st, 2020
Previously in Tarot: A strange and impossible lost memory from his days in World War II draws Namor the Sub-Mariner to his one-time compatriot Captain America-but the two heroes and their respective allies find themselves pulled into a labyrinth of pain, destruction and madness courtesy of the Infernal Ichor of Ish’lzog.
Blast from the past
Tarot #1 begins in the past, WWII to be precise. Captain America, Namor, and The Human Torch are investigating the scene of an attack when a nazi commander named Oberfuher Okkulte appears with powerful, possessed statues in tow. The trio spring into action, but Oberfuher gains the upper hand, until, Captain American becomes The Hulk and smashes his way through the stone assailants. Oberfuher retreats and before anyone can ask questions the story shifts to decades later in Arizona. The current Defender roster (Namor, Valkyrie, Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange, and The Hulk) are preparing to attack Cyrus Black, who has used something called The Infernal Ichor of Ish’izog to enslave a large group of innocents. Doctor Strange quickly dispatches Cyrus while the rest of the team subdues the group. The Sorcerer Supreme is able to pull the ichor from Cyrus but detects a trace amount of it in New York. The team travels to New York to find Thor, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, and Iron Man fighting off The Vison who has gone berserk. After disabling The Vision, the two teams pair off with each other to investigate what’s going on. Scarlet Witch leads Doctor Strange to The Avenger’s mystical vault where he detects the remaining ichor. There they encounter Diablo and it’s revealed that he has used the ichor to enslave The Avengers and now has all of the ichor.
Good Plot, Poor Dialog
The plot of Tarot #1 is a good time. It has the right mix of standard comic book action and melodrama while also being clever in how it telegraphs its twist. For example, there’s a scene where “Thor” tricks The Hulk into helping him clean up the rubble from the fight with The Vision. It comes off as just a bit of goofy teasing, until Valkyrie makes a comment that the trick sounds something like Loki would’ve done. Once the twist at the end is revealed that scene retroactively becomes more nuanced and there’s examples like this throughout the issue. What isn’t so great in this issue is the dialog. The best way to describe it is clunky and hokey. There’s multiple instances where characters use what should be normal conversations as a way to deliver exposition that doesn’t make sense, in universe. At no point does the way any of these characters are speaking feels natural.
The Bottom Line: A Flawed Good Time
Tarot #1 does a lot of things right. There’s good action, there’s nuanced plot, and there’s a good utilization of multiple timelines. Unfortunately, in order to actually experience any of those things requires slogging through some pretty rough dialog which diminishes the good things this issue has.
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Tarot #1 is a good comic book, if you’re looking for a good “heroes punching things, bad guys plotting” story. The dialog does a lot to diminish the shine of this, but doesn’t completely ruin it.