Tuesday, November 26, 2013
"What the heck...little hands?"
Way, way back in the day, when Image Comics was a nascent publisher representing the tide of anti-establishment within the industry, there was a book released called The Maxx. It was an interesting book, primarily because it's main character was so fascinating. Fast forward twenty years to a day when comics are beyond hip and IDW feels that some readers may have missed out on meeting the character initially. They've taken it upon themselves to release The Maxx Maxximized #1, a remastered retelling of the classic 1990s comic. The issue is written by Sam Kieth and William Messner-Loebs, illustrated by Kieth, additional inks by Jim Sinclair, colors by Ronda Pattison and letters by Mike Heisler.
If you read The Maxx before, then not much has changed. In fact, this is just the original first issue remastered. The Maxx lives in two worlds: the real world and the Outback, an alternate reality. In the real world, The Maxx is a homeless vagrant living in a box who is often bailed out of jail by social worker Julie Winters. In the Outback, he is the protector of the Leopard Queen, who happens to look a lot like Julie. Julie isn't aware of the Outback, content to drift in and out of The Maxx's life when appropriate. That time is now, with Mr. Gone abducting women for nefarious purposes.
If it worked twenty years ago, then surely it must work now. And the truth is, the first issue story by Kieth and Messner-Loebs still holds up. The transitions between reality and the Outback are just as jarring for the reader as they are for The Maxx and the existential fear is still pervasive throughout. As a character, The Maxx is actually one of the most docile physical wreckers you'll ever encounter, evoking comparisons to Tarzan somewhat in terms of his relative simple view of life. He wants to protect those who need it and doesn't really think twice about the consequences. His relationship with Julie is necessary to keep him in touch with reality; an irony in that Julie is the Leopard Queen in the Outback.
The big draw in The Maxx Maxximized #1 is the remastered art and boy, does it look swell. Kieth and Sinclair went back and rescanned each page at higher resolutions prior to being joined by Pattison to meticulously recolor the new and improved files. The result is a book that looks phenomenal. The ominous darkness is still evident by the color tones chosen and both The Maxx and Julie stand out as beautiful renderings of their previously displayed appearances. Despite the recoloring, the book still maintains a grassroots graffiti look, keeping with the tone of the streets that The Maxx prowls. Panel layouts are very bold, with Kieth eschewing the traditional format for a wide variety of layouts that almost seem to mirror The Maxx's fractured mental state.
Fans of The Maxx when it first debuted in 1993 will feel a good bit of nostalgia as they read through The Maxx Maxximized #1. New readers will quickly become fans as well, considering there's a lot to like about the remastered take by IDW. The story is very out there--yet in a positive way--and The Maxx is an interesting character to follow. There's a sense of the unknown in what exactly Mr. Gone is and his ties to Julie and The Maxx, so stay tuned for subsequent issues. In the meantime, be pretty happy that The Maxx is back and has returned looking better than ever. Take that 1990s!
The Maxx Maxximized #1 is available in stores November 27 with interiors below.