Writer: Mike Allred
Art: Mike Allred, Laura Allred (c)
Publisher: Image comics
Some have been turned off by the nature of the first three issues of Mike Allred's latest revival of his most famous character, with a prominent comics blogger even comparing it unfavorably to Alan Moore's Promethea, in that the mystical, psychological, and philosophical exploration in this series began without an equivalent to the latter series' several issues of superhero stories to ground the series. However, this fails to take into account over 15 years of stories from Allred's other off-and-on versions of the series. While this meandering beginning may have discouraged new readers (even taking into account the first issue's recap of the character's history), I for one (and hopefully other Madman veterans) have been interested to see Allred explore these sorts of issues, which have always been a large part of the series. In any case, his amazing art has been captivating, especially in the third issue, which saw Allred ape the styles of just about every significant comics artist in the medium's history as a way of examining his artistic influences.
Fortunately, many complaints will probably be alleviated with this fourth issue, which sees Madman (a.k.a Frank Einstein) wake up after having his "corpse" shot into space. He is discovered by a spacefaring young alien woman named Haley Foofou, who spirits him away to meet his destiny as the savior of the universe. It's the beginning of the "Madman in Space" storyline that Allred has talked about for years, and it should be interesting to see how it plays out. We get hints that we will finally discover what various characters meant when they referred to Frank as "one of the four" at several points in the series' history. It's quite exciting to finally get some answers, but still a bit obtuse at this point, with the promise of exciting events and secrets revealed, but little of that actually seen.
As for the art, Allred continues to dazzle, serving up amazing space vistas and freaky alien creatures, especially a creepy tree creature named Whelworne the Great Seer. Laura Allred enriches the proceedings with her beautiful colors, especially in Haley's ship, a set of multicolored blobs which resemble the alien artifact Madman discovered way back in Madman Adventures #3. It's as beautiful as always; Allred has continued to evolve his style, adding real depth and nuance to what has always been a striking, enjoyable, cartoony style.
So, while the series continues to be enjoyable and revelatory for Madman fans, newcomers might be left scratching their heads as to what is going on. It's hard to tell how appealing this might be to those who are new to the series, but hopefully everybody will be able to get on board for a big, cosmic, universe-saving space adventure. We'll see how it goes.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!