An elite pro basketball player turned superhero? That’s the premise for Marvel Comics’ latest title Mosaic, which debuted this past Wednesday in traditional comic book and digital formats.
Written by Geoffrey Thorne and illustrated by Khary Randolph, the comic book series follows Morris Sackett, a superstar who’s won five MVP awards and five NBA championships. (That level of success itself would probably warrant some sort of comic book, TV or movie treatment.) Justifiably, Sackett has an extremely high opinion of himself and his importance to his team. Consequently, his teammates can’t stand his brash, cocky personality and willingness to rip his fellow players in public.
As the story begins, Sackett is exposed to Terrigen Mists, which can mutate humans into extraordinary, superhuman beings — or Inhumans. If you watch Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, you’re probably already familiar with the concept, as Inhumans have been a key part of the series since its second season.
Not every human can withstand the transformation process of the Terrigen Mists — which forces a metamorphosis within a cocoon — but a professional athlete like Sackett presumably has no issue in surviving the mutation.
However, after undergoing his change, Sackett no longer has a physical body. He essentially becomes a ghost who has to jump into different bodies to survive and interact. As he takes over those bodies, he adopts every memory and ability of the host body. Yet Sackett is also limited by the host body. For instance, he wouldn’t have any basketball skills after taking over the body of an average, unathletic person. But imagine if he somehow took over Iron Man or the Hulk.
What makes Sackett different from typical superheroes is that he doesn’t immediately decide he can use these new abilities for good and to help people. He’s sort of an antihero, which Thorne explained in a June interview with Vulture’s Abraham Riesman.
Morris isn’t a hero, or at least he doesn’t see himself as one. He’s not out to make the world a better place for anyone but Morris. Not at first. Nor is he a villain. He’s not a malevolent person, just extremely self-obsessed. When Peter Parker first got his powers, he spent a few weeks using them to make money and to basically get his own back from a world that hadn’t been very nice to him thus far. He gets over it with the death of his uncle and becomes the hero we all know. Morris lives in that space Peter only passed through and has no kindly Uncle Ben to teach him about power and responsibility. Morris is about Morris.
Most importantly, Sackett (or Mosaic) is a black character headlining a Marvel Comics title during an era where major comic and children’s book publishers such as Marvel and DC Comics are attempting to add diversity to their lines with more minority, female and LGBTQ characters. Adding more credibility to that effort is Mosaic being written and illustrated by black creators, something that hasn’t always been the case with such characters. Additionally, Mosaic isn’t an already established white character whose mantle is adopted by a black one, as we’ve recently seen with Captain America and Iron Man.
Mosaic is currently available at comic book retailers and in digital format through the Marvel and Comixology apps. If the title proves successful, maybe the concept will eventually be adapted into a TV series. The potential seems to be there.