The Maxx by Sam Kieth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Maxx is a homeless man who wears a purple superhero outfit and lives off the kindless of Julie Winters, a freelance social worker. But he's also king of the wildplaces, a super-strong barbarian who fights monsters in a world resembling the Australian Outback while protecting the Leopard Queen, who bears a striking resemblance to Julie Winters. Which of those identities is true? What is the deeper connection between Julie and The Maxx? And how does Mr. Gone, dark sorcerer and serial rapist, figure into things?
First, a little history. For years, my comic reading trailed off until this was the only one I read on a regular basis? Why, you ask? Because of several factors. First of all, I dig Sam Kieth's art. Secondly, the characters are relatable. As you read further into this volume, as well as subsequent ones, you see behind the characters' exteriors and peer at the self doubt within. Thirdly, nothing is explained outright. Much of what happens is open to interpretation. The Maxx is definitely a thinker, not as Incredible Hulk-like as it first appears.
I've said it in reviews for other comics and I'll say it again here. The really good comics are always about something. The Sandman is about stories and how they shape us. Starman is about stepping into your parents' shoes and trying to live up to their expectations. The Maxx is about dealing with your baggage, something that's only hinted at in this volume.
As for presentation, the volume is great. The only minor complaint I have is that the letter pages weren't included. It was always great fun to read other Maxx-Heads's interpretation of events. Do comics even have letter pages anymore?
I'd recommend this to people who like their comics to have a different flavor than just capes and fisticuffs, specifically fans of indie books like Strangers in Paradise or Vertigo stuff like The Sandman. In fact, Sam Kieth was the first Sandman artist.
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