Monday, 30 January 2012

Books: Smax


Written by Alan Moore
Art by Zander Cannon and Andrew Currie

Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:

Something that gets a little lost what with his whole image as a spooky, shaman-like, magic-man with a long beard and intellectual pronouncements about how our culture is going to turn to steam (see here) and the like: not to mention all of his serious examinations of the nature of superheroes and how to deconstruct swamp monsters etc is that - Alan Moore is actually a pretty funny guy. And that's funny as in: "on-purpose funny" (which is - obviously - the best kind)

Back when he used to write for 2000AD he used to bring his droll wit to the short 4 - 6 pages Future Shocks stories - one of which ended up becoming it's own spin off series as D.R. and Quinch (which you should read if you haven't already). Since that point tho his public persona got steadily more serious as he went from V for Vendetta to Swamp Thing to Watchmen to From Hell.

It was nice to see then - in last days of the 20th Century - Alan Moore return to basics with his America's Best Comics - a comic's brand that included Tom Strong, Promethea, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Top 10. A line of titles that (in their early days at least) promised a return to the simple, slightly-goofy era of comics as pure fantastical escapism rather than say - the "grim and gritty" violence cess-pool they had become.

Smax is a spin-off from Top 10: a police series set in a city where literally everyone has super-powers. Jeff Smax - one of the cops in Top 10 and the star of Smax (obviously) - is the Top 10 embodiment of the moody, hard-bitten, trenchcoat-wearing no-nonsense-taking supercop who likes to keep himself to himself. In Top 10 you don't really learn too much about him other than how bad-ass he is - but in Smax: we've given the chance to look beneath his tough blue exterior and find out what lies beneath.

At this point I'll say that if you're intending to read Smax then please please pick up Top 10 first and read those before you start on this. It's not only that things will make more sense but also a lot of the jokes will be much funnier (and we all like funny jokes - right?). Plus also: Top 10 is totally amazing (and everyone likes stuff that is totally amazing - right?). Now know that Smax isn't really like Top 10: even tho it continues the story with a few of the same characters one of the thing's that kinda delightful about it is how it jumps from being a crime/super-hero/science-fiction thing into a comedy/fantasty/epic quest-type thing (or as it's more commonly known: "Terry Pratchett").

So - like I said at the start: this is Alan Moore in comedy-form and all the jokes are dead good. The character interactions are spot on. And it does the same thing as Top 10 with all it's easter egg goodness references to other stuff. I'd don't know what sort of fiend would not enjoy reading this book: but I guess it would be someone with a heart of stone, who hates to giggle and doesn't enjoy any type of sword and sorcery fun whatsoever (but that's their loss). For everyone else: this is the comics version of peaches and cream: sweet and delicious. 

Links: Tor Article: The Great Alan Moore Reread: SmaxBurning Leaves Review, Jess Nevins Annotations on #1 / #2.

Further reading: Top 10Top 10: The Forty-NinersD.R and Quinch, The Complete Future Shocks, Tom Strong, Orc Stain, Joe The Barbarian, The Hobbit.

Profiles: Alan Moore.

All comments welcome.

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