Monday, September 26, 2011

Smax Review

Smax
DC Comics - America's Best Comics
Softcover Trade Paperback
136 pages
$12.99 (2006)
$19.95 (2004) Hardcover
ISBN 9781401202903

Contributors: Alan Moore, Zander Cannon, Andrew Currie, Richard Friend, Todd Klein, Ben Dimagmaliw

Reprints: Smax #1-5 (of 5)

Synopsis: Jeff Smax and his partner Robin "Toybox" Slinger from the Top 10 precint visit Jeff's homeworld in a fringe dimension where science doesn't exist and magic is the status quo.  Here fairy tale creatures live in a regular, bureaucratic society - where you need a permit to go on a quest to slay dragons, jobs are threatened by cheap Oompa-Loompa foreign labor, and industrial toffee sludge is dumped into rivers.  It's not somewhere over the rainbow you would want to live.

"Jaafs" returns for his uncle's funeral and is afraid he'll get sucked back into a life he tried to escape by coming to Neopolis many years ago.  He was a legendary dragon slayer and left some unfinished business behind involving an omniscient, iniquitous dragon.  Can Jeff face his greatest fear (and the origin behind the white hand print on his chest) to save his loved ones from a gruesome death at the hands of a malevolent force of nature?

Pros: Moore's writing is excellent - you can tell he enjoyed writing this book, portrayal of the fairy tale world is very amusing, sexual tension between Smax/Toybox is well played, continues Top 10 tradition of having cameos from different fictional characters (like Tron, Akira, Metropolis, Simpsons)

Cons: Cannon's art is a bit cartoony, Smax is very immature which seems a bit out of character with his tough cop persona from Top 10 (although Moore writes it, so it must be true), there is some implied incest which figures prominently in the plot

Mike Tells It Straight: Don't let Cannon's cartoony art fool you - this is a book for grownups.  All the cute cuddly characters from the bedtime stories your mama told you are here, but they ain't so cute and cuddly when they're serving you mermaid soup for lunch or you're walking through an alley filled with the spirits of semi-damned children.  I found this story delightfully fun, but I have a weird sense of humor.  It was definitely cool seeing the Top 10 characters again, but the book is a sidestep from the original series.  The art style is completely different along with the tone - it's light-hearted, but with a sharp, pointy edge here and there.  Great ending, but seriously not for kids.

TO BUY and Recommendations: