Things are really hotting up for Max Damage: he’s got an Armageddon device to stop and and an insane new partner to deal with. How is he coping? Find out after the jump!
Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Marcio Takara
Colours: Nolan Woodard
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Covers: Christian Nauck (Cover A), Marcio Takara with colours by Juan Manuel Tumburús (Cover B), Jeffrey Spokes (Cover C)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Previously, in Incorruptible: former super villain Max Damage has turned straight following the insanity of the super hero Plutonian. Max and his new sidekick, Headcase, have travelled to the ruins of Sky City in order to combat a group of white supremacists called the Diamond Gang and rescue Alana Patel – the Plutonian’s former girlfriend. However, the Diamond Gang have dispatched their Armageddon weapon – ‘Retribution’ – to Max’s home of Coalville.
We open the issue with the head of the Diamond Gang – former Senator Dick Swain – ordering Retribution to halt until Max arrives at Coalville, with the intent of killing him as well. Meanwhile, we see that Louis Armadale (police Lieutenant and Max’s ally) survived Retribution’s initial blast, and Alana has a freak-out whilst Max changes a tire. Max and Alana have a chat about her guilt and eventually reach a sort of understanding. Swain goes on TV and claims that Max is in fact the leader of the Diamond gang, and implores the city to kill him, just as Max and company are about to set off for Coalville.
To me, this entire issue feels like the ‘calm before the storm’ as it were – a quick lull in the action right before what looks like the big climax to this current story arc. What we get is mostly dialogue between Max and Alana, with the odd page of monologue from Armadale. This isn’t a bad thing, however, and, as one would expect from Mark Waid, this character-building issue is all extremely well written. Waid adds an extra layer to Alana’s character by exposing her guilt and subsequent suicidal nature, and her and Max somewhat resolve their differences by the end of the issue – or, at least, agree to work together for now – in a manner that feels very satisfying. There is a lot going on between these two characters, and by the end of this issue we start to see a mutual respect (or, perhaps, acceptance) forming, and it truly is masterfully done. Max’s reaction when he learns of the Plutonian’s old secret identity – a man whom he kidnapped on many occasions – is also rather funny.
The one page that feels a bit off is Armadale’s monologue: after surviving Retribution’s initial attack, he doesn’t join the other officers in their drinking (despite being tempted, as a recovering alcoholic), and instead wonders around outside of Retribution and speaks aloud. Given that he’s probably pretty shaken up at this point, I suppose it makes sense that he would rant to himself, but it still didn’t feel as natural as the Max/Alana conversations. As for the plot: this issue has a lot of set-up, and it all looks very epic. I fully expect wills to be tested, (further) complications to arise, and perhaps a twist or two within the next couple of months and can’t wait to read the next issue. Indeed, this book utterly succeeds in making me want to keep reading.
Some Excellent Art
The art was also extremely impressive. Takara (who, I believe, is new to the series) does some excellent work in this issue. For me, he strikes a good balance between realistic and artistic, and his work always seems very crisp (I think that’s the best way to describe it). The facial expressions are also a joy, with emotion being conveyed expertly from how the characters are looking. Takara also does a good job of making Max look heroic in one particular panel, a panel that provides a near-perfect conclusion to the Max/Alana portion of the issue.
This issue also has some great colouring, Woodard’s work always looking vibrant and colourful, without being inappropriate at some of the darker points. The lighting also looks very good throughout the issue, very natural yet noticeable for its quality; I also love how it seems to be darker by the end of the issue, as if Max and Alana have spent quite a while talking. My only complaints with the art come down to nitpicking: Alana’s chin looks a little too pointed, and Max’s neck is far too thick in one particular panel, but none of these take away from the overall joy of the art in the slightest.
Cover A is definitely well drawn, being done in a painted style that I very much enjoy, and Max looking out onto some Coalville ruins would be an appropriate choice, if he weren’t accompanied by Headcase, who spends the entire issue passed out drunk and hence doesn’t appear much in the issue. It’s not a bad cover, however, and I can imagine it will draw the eye simply by being so well drawn, so it gets a pass from me. Cover B shows Max and Headcase running at the reader, bullets being deflected off of Max. The cover is by Takara and as such wins my approval as much as the interior art, and the bright background coupled with the more subdued colours of Max and Headcase is also eye-catching. However, it does once again feature Headcase and has little to do with the events of the book, plus Headcase is wearing a costume slightly different to the one she wears in the book (in that, her costume on the cover features a boob-whole in her shirt a la Power Girl) – this discrepancy is, frankly, baffling considering Takara did the interior art where the normal costume is very much in evidence. Cover C is a one-in-ten deal, featuring a big letter B (it is part of a series of such covers), and as such is intended more to function as an item for collecting more than as an actual cover, so I shan’t say much about it.
BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT
Everything seems to go right with this book: great writing and art come together to form a brilliant read. I have been back and forth on the quality of this title compared to its sister book, Irredeemable, but this issue really sets them up on an equal platform. If you haven’t got into this book yet, then be sure to get on-board now. This issue is of no less than excellent quality, and earns a full five stars out of five from me.