A welcomed blast from the past, “The Maxx: Maximized” #1 brings back the stylish and imaginative cult classic. An iconic character from the ’90s jumps back into the fold with a brand new look. While old fans will cherish The Maxx’s ultimate return, newcomers should definitely jump right in.
WRITTEN BY: Sam Kieth and William Messner-Loebs
ART BY: Sam Kieth
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
RELEASE: November 27th, 2013
A homeless vagrant known only as Maxx finds himself lost in two different worlds. In New York, Maxx finds himself in deep trouble with the cops and crooks. In the Outback, Maxx is the protector of the worshipped Leopard Queen. Is Maxx really screwed up in the head or is he actually a hero in an alternate dimension? Which reality is the actual one that Maxx lives in? Is New York the fake world, or is the Outback a mere hallucination? There is a deranged lunatic who can freely walk around both worlds and he intends on slitting the throat of Leopard Queen.
The Maxx is on a quest for self-truth. Though he is wearing a loud and colorful costume, that does not make Maxx a real superhero. Because Maxx doesn’t know what his identity is, he could be making up any story that suits himself best. In the mean streets of New York, is he supposed to be this violent vigilante taking down crime a notch? In the Outback, he cannot take his eyes away from the beauty of the Leopard Queen. Maxx wants to mean something to somebody, be someone important in this other universe, which is why he is always trying to protect his social worker, Julie. At times though, I spotted some of the ’90s clichés though and thought, “How come Julie doesn’t have a cell phone?” and “Why is the bad guy is calling from a phone booth?”
What I really enjoy is how the narrative switches between both realities smoothly. Messner-Loebs and Kieth give specific reasons why Maxx slips between fantasy and reality. At one point, Maxx is unable to control his hallucinations and goes off suddenly. In another scene, he willingly travels to Outback because he wants to fall sleep and wake up somewhere else. As readers, we’re always left to question which existence is the real one.
Keith’s illustrations just flows effortlessly with such cartoonish style. Midway through the narrative, I love how Kieth lays out the panels to make it look like the camera is spinning. In her character design, sometimes you don’t see Julie’s eyes because her long blonde hair covers them. With her extremely tight shirts and grungy jeans, Keith illustrates Julie as a vixen and teases with her body poses.
Because I have the original “Maxx” comics from Image, I definitely wanted to see what IDW was going to do differently. Ronda Pattison punches up the colors, especially the purple tones of Maxx’s costume. As I compared the original issues, I noticed Julie’s blue eyes are much clearer and less faded in this “Maxximized” version. Using a less thick black hue, Pattison’s retouch gives the little Isz creatures a much more vibrant look. This isn’t the same “Maxx” comic I have in my collection.
With writer/artist Sam Kieth playing around with narrative structure and artwork, “The Maxx: Maximized” #1 ends up becoming a rewarding and entertaining reading experience. With such psychedelic illustrations, readers will love the landscapes of the gritty city and the vast jungle. Though the ’90s have dated the material, “The Maxx” continues to thrive because of its twisted storytelling and impressive artwork.
Reviewed by – Jorge Solis