IDW brings us what one might call a “remastered” version of the 1995 comic which spawned an animated TV show of the same name on MTV. It makes me kind of glad that I never read the earlier version, so I can read this and not be constantly doing a compare and contrast in my head. (I fear I’d end up with mental whip lash.)
For those not familiar with the story, it follows the life of a very odd-looking purple creature by the name of Maxx who is homeless, very large, muscular, and has hands which resemble paws with a large horn/claw protruding from them. Though his face is reminiscent of a lucha libre mask, this is obviously considered normal in the world that Keith and Messner-Loebs have created as no one bats an eye over his appearance. Maxx considers himself a wanna-be hero, though it seems he’s often pulled out of jail by a social worker named Julie who he dreams is The Leopard Queen from Australia. His dreams also hint at a violent past which may or may not coincide with a rapist-murderer assaulting women all over the city.
This new edition of the comic offers eye-popping colors by Ronda Pattison which work wonderfully. I love her use of sharp, dynamic colors in the “real” world, which then shift to pastels in the “dream” world. It lets the reader know immediately that not only has the perspective changed, but possibly the mental state of the characters, as well. I also loved the lettering, especially in the background. It provided what I would describe as a back beat pushing us forward even if we don’t want to be pushed. The art and paneling add a whole other dimension and richness to the story, though I find the hyper-sexualized female characters to be distracting, and I have a tough time taking them seriously.
Even more so when a client of Julie’s is clearly baffled that she’s dressed like a whore (and, quite frankly, so am I).
The story itself is interesting in that it delves into questions of what is real and what isn’t and what happens when these two worlds collide. My only real nit-pick is the opening scene where a young woman voluntarily allows herself to be put into an obviously dangerous situation. No woman is naïve enough to get out of a car in a bad neighborhood when she knows she’s three blocks from her destination. It’s a cliché and, considering how interesting the characters and the rest of the story are, I think the writer could have chosen a better and more clever opening scene. Trust me when I say it is much more terrifying when you’ve done everything right and still something bad happens.
All in all, it’s a very intriguing world, and I look forward to reading more.