WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Contagion #1 by Ed Brisson, Rogê Antônio, Veronica Gandini and Cory Petit, on sale now.
In Marvel's Contagion, a mysterious virus has just been awakened deep beneath the temples of K'un-Lun. While we don't yet know its origin or how it was set loose, we have seen how devastating it can be. Upon contact with the virus, any living creature ends up covered in greenish boils that can, eventually, lead to death. But that's not all the virus does. It also seemingly turns carriers against everyone, mindless drones who only have the purpose to attack... and infect others.
Over the course of the upcoming five-issue weekly series, we will see many heroes fall victim to the titular outbreak. But in the comic's first chapter, we already find out who the first superhero casualties of this virus are. Moreover, we may have gotten a glimpse at the big bad behind it all.
Is The Disease Man Contagion's Big Bad?
In K'un-Lun, we are informed that the virus was discovered by three monks sent in to investigate a mysterious staircase discovered underneath the temple. Only, when they are found, two of them have died from the infection, while the third is missing. Then, a week later, the contagion starts spreading on Yancy Street, after the Mole Man and his Moloids contract the strange disease. The Fantastic Four villain explains to Ben Grimm that he became infected after coming into contact with someone he calls "The Disease Man."
Now, of course, we have no idea who this mysterious Disease Man is for the time being, but it's likely that he was the third man sent to investigate the staircase in K'un-Lun. But if his identity is being kept a secret, it's possible that he may be someone we know -- someone only posing as a monk, who volunteered to go explore the catacombs underneath K'un-Lun because he knew exactly what he would find down there. For now, all we have is a name -- and only a made up one at that -- as well as a power set.
The Fantastic Four No More
What isn't a mystery in Contagion #1 is the identity of the first heroes to fall victim to the dangerous virus. After a Yancy Street kid runs over to The Thing, asking him to come help his friends down in the subway, a hesitant Ben Grimm can't ignore a call for help. Soon after, Mister Fantastic, the Human Torch and the Invisible Woman all show up to help stave off the spread of the contagion. However, the situation takes a turn for the worse when the Disease Man turns up and spreads his sickness to Reed with one touch.
The Disease Man proceeds to infect Johnny, after which, Sue remarks, "That thing is absorbing their powers," which could reveal slightly more about the Disease Man, or about the contagion itself. Somehow, it is able to steal the powers and consciousness of the beings it infects; the Disease Man is even shown to have the ability of having Reed speak through his mouth. Is this the work of some fallen hero, like the X-Men's Rogue, who can absorb powers, or is it perhaps some kind of viral version of a Super Adaptoid? DC has played with similar themes with the Amazo Virus, after all.
For the time being, all we know is that Reed, Sue and Johnny are infected... but the clock is ticking. And with the Disease Man on the loose, a hell of a lot more people are about to end up just like them.