I Wanna Be Literated #154

I Wanna Be Literated #154

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Tuesday, 09 May 2017
COLUMN

The MAXX: Maxximized, Volume 5-7
by Sam Kieth, William Messner-Loebs

The Maxx has to be, hands down, one of the most underrated comics of all time. Throughout the course of the series, Sam Kieth managed to take the tired familiar scenario of superhero/supervillain fighting for the honor of a lady and turn it into a complex, fantastical, psychological and very personal story. The Maxx started off as one thing and ended up as something entirely different.

The first four books in this remastered (or Maxximized) series served to lay all the pieces on the table. At the beginning we think this is a story about Maxx, but we then very quickly realize that Mr. Gone might be the driving force. The result was a complete mess of dysfunctional relationships with a good dose of magic. And now Kieth has to somehow tie all these loose ends.

What stands out most in the second half of the Maxx series is how Mr. Gone’s story unfolds. He’s violent, masochistic, and disturbed, and a very easy character to hate. But when we peel off the layers we find out that he’s very much a victim of his upbringing. We want to hate him, but it turns out we will never hate him as much as he himself already does. Every character in the Maxx has tragedy to deal with and no one tries to right his wrongs more than Mr. Gone. And as the story concludes we are left with a couple more hurdles to overcome and a group of people, estranged, betrayed, or simply hateful of one another, who must work together if they’re to find any happiness in their lives.

Quite a load, huh?

I would be doing the series a disfavor if I didn’t also highlight the excellent art which is so characteristic of the series. Sam Keith has an incredible ability to merge simple cartoonish designs with complex brushwork and very unique use of panels. From one page to the next he can go from near stick-figure like characters to lush paintings. The results are unexpected and quite wonderful. This is one of the ways the Maxximized remastering excels: by rescanning and recoloring all of Kieth’s original artwork from the series and presenting them in an oversized format.

After all these years, we still haven’t quite figured out the bizzare world Sam Kieth has created in the Maxx. It’s strange and nonsensical and at the same time concrete enough that the reader might be able to grasp it. It’s truly a unique and remarkable human story that is beautiful both inside and out.

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