Indie Comics Spotlight: The Maxx Maxximized, Never Ending and Tilt-Shift The Quiet Profession


Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)


The Maxx Maxximized #1

“What the heck…little hands?”

Way, way back in the day, when Image Comics was a nascent publisher representing the tide of anti-establishment within the industry, there was a book released called The Maxx. It was an interesting book, primarily because it’s main character was so fascinating. Fast forward twenty years to a day when comics are beyond hip and IDW feels that some readers may have missed out on meeting the character initially. They’ve taken it upon themselves to release The Maxx Maxximized #1, a remastered retelling of the classic 1990s comic. The issue is written by Sam Kieth and William Messner-Loebs, illustrated by Kieth, additional inks by Jim Sinclair, colors by Ronda Pattison and letters by Mike Heisler.

If you read The Maxx before, then not much has changed. In fact, this is just the original first issue remastered. The Maxx lives in two worlds: the real world and the Outback, an alternate reality. In the real world, The Maxx is a homeless vagrant living in a box who is often bailed out of jail by social worker Julie Winters. In the Outback, he is the protector of the Leopard Queen, who happens to look a lot like Julie. Julie isn’t aware of the Outback, content to drift in and out of The Maxx’s life when appropriate. That time is now, with Mr. Gone abducting women for nefarious purposes.

If it worked twenty years ago, then surely it must work now. And the truth is, the first issue story by Kieth and Messner-Loebs still holds up. The transitions between reality and the Outback are just as jarring for the reader as they are for The Maxx and the existential fear is still pervasive throughout. As a character, The Maxx is actually one of the most docile physical wreckers you’ll ever encounter, evoking comparisons to Tarzan somewhat in terms of his relative simple view of life. He wants to protect those who need it and doesn’t really think twice about the consequences. His relationship with Julie is necessary to keep him in touch with reality; an irony in that Julie is the Leopard Queen in the Outback.

The big draw in The Maxx Maxximized #1 is the remastered art and boy, does it look swell. Kieth and Sinclair went back and rescanned each page at higher resolutions prior to being joined by Pattison to meticulously recolor the new and improved files. The result is a book that looks phenomenal. The ominous darkness is still evident by the color tones chosen and both The Maxx and Julie stand out as beautiful renderings of their previously displayed appearances. Despite the recoloring, the book still maintains a grassroots graffiti look, keeping with the tone of the streets that The Maxx prowls. Panel layouts are very bold, with Kieth eschewing the traditional format for a wide variety of layouts that almost seem to mirror The Maxx’s fractured mental state.

Fans of The Maxx when it first debuted in 1993 will feel a good bit of nostalgia as they read through The Maxx Maxximized #1. New readers will quickly become fans as well, considering there’s a lot to like about the remastered take by IDW. The story is very out there–yet in a positive way–and The Maxx is an interesting character to follow. There’s a sense of the unknown in what exactly Mr. Gone is and his ties to Julie and The Maxx, so stay tuned for subsequent issues. In the meantime, be pretty happy that The Maxx is back and has returned looking better than ever. Take that 1990s!

The Maxx Maxximized #1 is available in stores now.

Never Ending #1

“Nothing. Ever. Changes.”

If you’re “blessed” with the ability to endure time and continue living, you may or may not be happy. True, you’ll live through quite a few beautiful sunsets and birthdays, but eventually, things will get lonely. How you cope with that loneliness ranges from just dealing with it to seeking a way to rid yourself of it. Finding a way to get rid of it makes for rather interesting reading and Dark Horse Comics is preparing Never Ending #1 to offer that read. The issue is written by Adam P. Knave and D.J. Kirkbride, illustrated by Robert Love, colored by Heather Breckel and lettered by Frank Cvetkovic.

Charles Baxter has a problem. It’s not the numerous villains he has to face off against. It’s not the number of times that his city is imperiled. It’s time. Charles has been trapped for decades in a body that’s superpowered and never ages, driving him insane. He wants a cure and he’s turning to the one person he thinks is capable of helping him in that regard: his archnemesis Archibald Crane. The same Crane who’s been relentless in his pursuit of punishing Charles in as many ways as he can.

Knave and Kirkbride have teamed up and the story is pretty fun, if not necessarily original. Charles Baxter is somewhere between a vampire and Metro Man from Megamind. The former because Charles wants to live a mortal life, the latter because he wants a life outside of being a superhero. The first issue does a great job though offering up the tale of Baxter and his life of woe. For instance, he’s terrified that his unborn child will enter the world with some of his superpowers; superpowers, which he inherited in, pretty standard, meteor fashion. The first entry in the issue spends a lot of time going back and forth between action and dialogue, both of which helps to get the story going. There’s also a nice nod to the fact that the epic superhero/supervillain battles often lay waste to the city below, as the story seems to be aware of itself as a comic to an extent.

Love’s art is very well done. There’s very much a superhero feel to the work, including some panels where Charles is reminiscent of Tarzan. The fighting between Charles and Archie is done to great effect, fully displaying the carnage their brutal combat has on the city. Love uses some interesting perspectives as well, where some of the characters move between the forefront and back of the panels themselves. Typically, the characters in the front take precedent in the panels, with little detail on display in the background. The panel layout is pretty standard in terms of panel shapes, with a few exceptions where the rectangles are eschewed for edgier shapes.

Never Ending #1 is the first of three issues and here’s hoping it won’t be too predictable. There’s always been this theme with certain heroes reluctant in their roles and how Charles plans to utilize Archie to solve his “problem” will be interesting. The dynamic between Charles and Archie is pretty much a rollercoaster, but follows the track of friends turned enemies out of jealousy. The next two issues could be very exciting and here’s to Knave and Kirkbride offering up some twists and turns.

Never Ending #1 is in stores now.

Tilt-Shift: The Quiet Profession #1

“It didn’t seem real to him just yet.”

Wars are fought on the battlefield, despite what all the news feeds will tell you. Getting on the battlefield can be done through a variety of different roles, including photographer. The combat photographer is often an unsung hero of combat and Tilt-Shift: The Quiet Profession #1 is offering a look at the role. The issue is written by Jose L. Torres, illustrated by Josh Hood, inked by Michael Babinkski, colored by Mike Spicer and lettered by Thomas Mauer.

Freddie Blythe is a combat photographer, getting right in the thick of the action to get the shots that make the pages of magazines and newspapers around the world. He’s attached to the premiere Kill/Capture force in the country, following Team Galahad through the Korengal Valley in search of an expert bomb maker. As it turns out, taking pictures in a war zone manages to be a lot more difficult than taking a selfie at the mall.

Torres taps into the day-to-day of the military action that focuses on finding some of the world’s greatest enemies. There’s a good dose of reality in the pages, helping to effectively convey the true drama that comes with the combat zones. Freddie’s routine is extremely dangerous and is tasked with a very grimy job, but he does it with great enthusiasm and care for his craft. That’s part of the book that is extremely interesting, in that it sheds light on an aspect of war that is often forgotten as everyone views information about it. The images and video have to come from somewhere and their origin is often taken for granted, despite the intense settings that the photographers go through.

Hood’s art is very well done, effectively taking the reader into the war scenes. Considering it’s a book about photography, Hood infuses the characters with a wide range of emotion in their facial expressions. The book has a worn down feel similar to what comes from sand eroding buildings that keeps the reader right in the thick of the action, sharing the feelings that a combat photographer is feeling. Panel layouts are pretty standard, with Hood relying on the standard layout of rectangles and very little in the way of insets or overlays. There are a few pages where there is some violence depicted, but the gore isn’t overly excessive.

Tilt-Shift: The Quiet Profession #1 is a really interesting book that offers a rather unique look at the theater of war. The main protagonist is one that not a lot of people really think about and the fresh perspective offers up an equally fresh storytelling mechanic. Torres and Hood make a great team as their work complements one another very well. It’s a book that demonstrates a healthy knowledge of war and a great sense of reverence paid to the troops that serve in wars across the world. Tilt-Shift: The Quiet Profession #1 is a book that merits some attention if you’re looking for a new protagonist and story to open up some new horizons in the world.

Tilt-Shift: The Quite Profession #1 is available now via Comixology.


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