I don’t want this to sound like I’m beginning to dislike The MAXX. I’m not, and I’m still having a blast revisiting it. However, the closer I sidle up alongside this former love of mine; the longer we spend playing between its sheets, the more I’m starting to notice its little bumps, its imperfections, and most of all, its wrinkles. Like I mentioned last time, The MAXX MAXXIMIZED is holding up to its new name, mostly now in looks, thanks to Ronda Pattison’s colors. Otherwise, this story is beginning to show its age, and in this case, it’s really thanks to the guest appearance of one of the 90s’ most fondly forgettable Image characters, Pitt! Full disclosure: I forgot he even made an appearance in this series.
Now, you really don’t need to know much about Pitt to enjoy this issue. He is, after all, just a big, nostril-less (alien) quasi-Hulk clone with a fixation on a little boy named Timmy. It gave me a nice tickle of nostalgia to see him there, but it also reminded me how dumb the 90s were.
Not only do both Maxx and Pitt use superfluous extra letters to fulfill the decade’s ubiquitous EXTREME model of nomenclature, but if you really squint, they also both kind of share sobriquets with 1990s teen TV hangouts on Saved By The Bell and Beverly Hills 90210, respectively. Yup. I just made that comparison. PEACH PIT WHAT! (drops mic)
Again apologizing for bringing up the MTV adaptation of this series, but in regards to this whole Pitt thing, I thought it did a superior job of de-contextualizing his appearance for a general audience, while also divorcing the story from some pointless comic book tie-in.
In the show, they replaced PITT with Outback stalwart, Ret'qark'n, the giant Maxx once described as, “of the God Clan, very mean,” and it was great! It allowed for a brief but fun further exploration into Maxx world, again rather than getting or giving a gratuitous rub to another book at the time. If this reprint of The MAXX is truly to be “MAXXIMIZED,” I think they should have embraced that change for a better-catered narrative. But maybe that’s just me.
Besides, that’s not to say there aren’t some great parts of this issue, regardless of PITT’s inclusion, and I did enjoy it for more than just a little bump of nostalgia. I mean, one of my ... well, favorite seems like an inappropriate word to use for him ... most memorable comic book villains, Mr. Gone, reemerges in our world as a large, menacing lump of clay and his dark influence over Sara is great! Plus, there’s an Isz tsunami, which I think we can all agree is pretty awesome, though admittedly not as much as seeing them devour Ret'qark'n, like they did on the TV show.
I could give or take the two muscle-bound heroes’ team-up against a “giant” Isz, but some of Maxx, Pitt and Julie’s repartee in The Outback is both fun and hilarious, intentionally trite though it may be. Similarly, the art may be simple in certain places, but Kieth once again shows his iconic style’s range here.
Both the art’s alternatingly gristly and cartoonish march through visual bipolar disorder and the lettering’s regular appropriation of page to this day mark this book as particularly unique. In a story that flits this quickly between surrealist mindscapes and the aftereffects thereof, that kind of artistic direction is necessary, and I think it stands the test of time. This is especially true thanks again to Pattison’s revitalized color palette, which matches Kieth’s visual pace here brilliantly.
The MAXX #7 ends on about four different cliffhangers, and being that my memory is not what it was, I’m excited all over to see what path it’s going to take next, even if it does include a telling hitchhiker from a misbegotten age.
Writers: Sam Kieth & William Messner-Loebs Artist: Sam Kieth Colorist: Ronda Pattison Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/7/14