THE MAXX – MAXXIMIZED #1 [Review]: Taking it to the…

IDW is fulfilling a longtime desire of mine (and I’m sure many others) at last: to have The Maxx live up to its fullest potential with modern artistic flare. This republished version is overseen by the master himself Sam Kieth (Zero Girl), with a bit of help from William Messner-Loebs (Wonder Woman, The Flash). The comic debuted in 1993, making the Neophyte 13 at the time — the perfect age to come across such a singular piece of art split into two worlds.

As I plopped open this newly remastered edition of The Maxx #1, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic in regards to my love affair with this unhinged comic. Indulge me whilst I reminisce…

Hopefully not at any shopping mall.

I was always drawn in by the female protagonist, Julie Winters, because she looks, acts, and moves like a real woman, and not just some baseless female damsel in distress or typical comic book chick. I’m sure men have delighted in her scantily-clad outfits and surly attitude, so she is also liable to get some attention from most reasonably intelligent mammals. Julie is real and that much more appealing with her issues and flaws, always keeping us on our toes as any good woman should. You never know what’s going to come out of the Leopard Queen’s mouth…

Ms. Winters takes care of the title character known as The Maxx by way of her free-lance social work in the real world.

The Maxx himself is only a superhero in that he’s big, he’s purple, and has huge sharply toothed mask and giant yellow, razor-sharp claws. In reality, he’s simply viewed as a homeless man who lives in an alley box of New York City, humorous and twisted. He shifts uncontrollably from the real world to the unconscious, a so-called safe place also referred to as the Outback (but not the Australian outback, oi oi oi!). In the other world, he is Julie’s protector; there she is the Leopard Queen, the role switch and world warp is tantalizing.

Not brought to you by Colgate.

The only character who seems to have a clue what is going on is the villain, serial rapist, and student of the mystic arts, Mr. Gone. Still, this is all Julie’s world; this is her journey and the other characters seem more aware of it as time goes on. I can’t blame Julie or The Maxx for the confusion, because we all need a safe place where we can escape reality. With The Maxx (and partially what makes it all so terribly fun), you never know which world is actually real, seeing how both planes are so rich and vivid. The story reminds us that we all have an outback, an unconscious world we live, whether we are aware of it or not.

Don’t we all!

Most of us who were kids in the 90’s are somewhat familiar with The Maxx‘s animated series on a side-show style program called MTV’s “Oddities” (1995). “Oddities” being a very random platform for an even more irregular storyline such as The Maxx. The show brought quite a bit of attention to the books and even spawned some video game play as well. The animated series pays tribute to how well crafted the comic book is/was because the show is mostly directly from the comic panels. Unfortunately, the show ended up largely unfinished. Perhaps this revamp of the comic will inspire Kieth to actually finish the animated series?

Wishful thinking…probably.

The new art in The Maxx: Maxximized first issue is as gorgeous as you’d imagine, with a personal addendum from Mr. Sam Kieth. The former Incredible Hulk and Sandman artist goes on to explain the extreme time restraints put upon comic book artists to finish — often only a weekend alone! — in this particular case of renowned colorist Steve Oliff (Akira, Spawn). In fact, Kieth was working simultaneously on The Maxx comic and MTV show at the same time, which lead to some short-cutting on the artwork in the comic. Now, IDW’s Ronda Pattison (TMNT) takes the helm to help Kieth with this revamp. The Maxx is even more purple and bold than ever before, and Julie’s blue eyes are simply.. beautiful.

Thankfully, Kieth hasn’t messed with the core story at all, because — in all fairness — The Maxx is truly sublime in its original psychedelic, albeit imperfect splendor. It remains one of those comics that most people just don’t get, and therein lies the draw of it all: not getting it is getting it, and I’m sure the new art will draw new fans.

If you are truly interested to see more of Kieth’s wonderful world, this Neophyte can’t help but recommend the animated series (which is available on Amazon, or wherever good Maxx stories are shown). I promise after you’re done with it, the world will never be the same size again…

5 Bibles.

Nicole Brunner
Nicole Brunner is an actress/model and daughter of noted Marvel comic book artist Frank Brunner, which essentially makes her comic royalty and a badasssss bitch. Growing up in her house, comic books and the like were the literal gospel. She’s also guest-starred in 3 episodes of the cult favorite TV series"Roswell". Nicole is a regular at San Diego Comic Con, and frequents comic book stores in search of old comics and anything Jean Grey-related. Lest we not forget her fixation with 80s flicks and the new DC fighting game, INJUSTICE. Follow The Neophyte on Twitter @Nicole_Brunner

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