How Tragedy Turned ‘Weirdworld’ Into One Of Marvel’s Best Comics In Decades

Despite all of the major events in the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe – The mutants are dying! Steve Rogers is Captain America again! Two Spider-Men, and one of them is basically Tony Stark! – it’s Weirdworld, the book that has absolutely nothing to do with any of them, that stands out as Marvel’s best. Co-created by writer Sam Humphries and artist Mike Del Mundo, the title combines seemingly irreconcilable elements from Mad MaxThe Wizard of Oz, and Alice in Wonderland into a wonderfully odd title, one of Marvel’s best new books of recent years.

All Becca Rodriguez wanted to do was take her recently-deceased mother’s ashes to Mexico. Her journey gets incalculably more complicated when her plane is drawn into Weirdworld. Now, it’s not just a matter of getting to Mexico, but getting back to Earth. Becca is joined on her quest by two Weirdworld natives: Goleta, a wizard-slayer, and Ogeode, a cat-bat wizard…thing who, in a previous form, was responsible for bringing Becca to Weirdworld in the first place. But saying Weirdworld is just about Becca trying to return to Earth is like saying an X-Men book is just about people born with superpowers trying to stop other people with superpowers. There are layers, here, at once intimate and accessible.

Unfortunately, Weirdworld will meet its too-soon demise today, which sees the publication of its final issue. Still, we come not to bury the book, but to celebrate a story of loss and anger and sandsharks and wizards and swamp men and giant lava creatures and trying to find your way home. We spoke with Humphries about the book, how a personal tragedy influenced the main character, and why he compares himself to a mediocre quarterback with a terrific defense.

How instantly did you click with Mike Del Mundo?

Mike and I just mesh very well on a personal level. We talk and text all the time. I think our first phone conversation, the first 20 minutes was spent talking about the first Wu-Tang Clan solo albums. We not only got along, but we had some sensibilities and passions outside of comics that really meshed. I’m extremely lucky to have done this book with him. And, you know, it’s Mike Del Mundo. If he says he’s going to draw the hell out of something, then you better put it in the book and get out of his way. 

Could you have told this story without him?

No. No, no, no. Something else that’s really special is that he picked up on Becca and the suicide of Becca’s mother very early on. We had this moment of recognition, where I’d put it in an outline, and he had noticed it, and even though we’d never met in person, it was almost like our eyes had met across the room, and we had a full understanding. He was like, “I get it. I see what this book is really about.”

A lot of artists might feel reluctant to do quieter moments, or invest in scenes that are about mothers and daughters sitting on couches, but Mike instantly understood what I was going for there, and the power of it if it’s done right. And that gave me the confidence to invest even further in what is really the heart of the story. It’s the heart of Becca’s emotional life in Weirdworld. I would then lean into those moments a little more in the script, and Mike would lean into them harder for the artwork. By about issue four and five, he’d text me and say, “Dude, I teared up reading the script.” And I was like, “Dude, I was tearing up writing it.”