Title: Smax Writer: Alan Moore Pencils: Zander Cannon
Look, look! HANI is actually managing to write a book review! Okay, I confess. It's not a book. It's a compilation of a five-book comic series. Currently, Smax is available only in hardback, but paperback versions of comic compilations normally come out a year after the hardback.
Smax stars two super-cops from a previous world seen in Top 10, set in a totally different world, "Earth One-Thirty-Seven" to be exact. Jaafs "Jeff" Smax is a blue giant accompanied by his human partner, Robyn Slinger, on a trip back to his childhood home to attend his uncle's funeral. To Smax's dismay, he is pressured into a quest to slay a very powerful dragon.
The art is bright and beautiful, and full of magic, stolen from other sources. Keep an eye out for Pooh, Humpty Dumpty, the Mock Turtle, various versions of Harry Potter, Casper, and so much more. They're thrown in everywhere for the visually observant, just to make sure you fully appreciate Cannon's work.
Like every classic story of coming home, Smax is a country boy who made it big in the city, comes home determined to look down at everything, and ends up learning a few things about where he comes from. As the story unfolds, we, through Robyn, learn of Smax's history, motivations, and the deep dark secrets he keeps. The story itself is dark and intense, from Smax's tale of his birth to the moment he confronts the dragon for the final time. I don't want to give out any spoilers here. Yet, the comic is far from dark and intense, thanks to the small details, like the visual candy mentioned earlier, a sword that sings "Dancing Queen," dwarfs who play a role-playing game called Malls & Muggers, several Deaths practising division of labour, and incestuous frustration.
Each character is individual and adorable in their own ways. I love Aunt Minka, the newly made widow who does not mourn her dead husband too much. The fights between Jaafs and Robyn are completely believable and both sides are expressed so well that you won't know which one to side with. The dragon is the epitome of Earth 137: within its cute and adorable appearance, is a powerful, magical entity with a dirty, naughty streak peeking out now and then.
This comic's only real flaw, I think, is in it's boy-girl relationships. Jeff's love interest herself comes through only as an inferior feminized copy of Jeff, rather than as a character in her own right. The bonds of interest or love don't come through clearly either. The conclusions of break-up or happy-ending (depending on which couple) came in too abruptly as well. But there's just so much to enjoy, that such a minor flaw can be overlooked. I especially love the final battle with the dragon. Robyn's struggles as a science hero in a world where electricity doesn't work is a marvelous touch to a fantasy story. I really, really like how the battle was ended.
A highly recommended light affair, if you can get a hold of this comic!