Going mad for Madman

The mysterious maestro of good leaps forward with yo-yo in hand flinging it at his opponent, an evil-underground beatnik bent on terrorizing the masses with his “new world” daddy-O lingo. The collision of the yo-yo bouncing off the beatniks skull resulting in a sudden loss of consciousness Madman stands tall admiring the result of his work.

Mike Allred has quite possibly created one of the most delightful indie-superheroes I have read in ages. Although, Madman is not a new comic it certainly has been a refreshing experience for me to read.

I may be the last to discover this ‘60s and ‘70s comic book inspired hero, but I am sure glad that I had. Madman from my memory was probably at the height of his popularity in the ‘90s, which was a time period in which I was still a fresh faced grade schooler who read only Marvel comics in semi-irregular fashion.

I knew of Madman solely out of my constant reading of a little known comic book periodical called Wizard. Which on a side note Wizard was at its best in the ‘90s and is not nearly as cool as it used to be.

Anyhow, despite having knowledge of Madman I wasn’t apt to waste my money on something that didn’t feature ridiculously over-muscled characters that were most likely designed by Rob Liefeld. I wasn’t really much for substance in comic books back in those days.

Of course comes college, a part-time job and an income to spend on comics and here I am today writing about Madman.

I bought the “Madman: Gargantua,” trade from Image comics and am about 300 pages in and I have to say I have enjoyed it for the most part. I read that the TPB is supposed to contain the entire Madman series minus Allred’s Atomics series that features him.

For my coin I have to say it is worth it; there is lots to read here and the story is entertaining and the artwork is incredibly charming and hyper-stylized. Although I do not believe this contains all of the Madman stories, it seems to me that the book is missing a couple of crossovers–particularly the Superman and Madman crossover.

I don’t know why this isn’t included because in the inside cover of the book they show an image of the issues cover.

So anyways lets talk a little more about Madman. From what I gathered Madman is sort of an amnesiac zombie with Olympic level gymnastic skills and some psychic powers.

I don’t want to read ahead and spoil the ending for myself but it seems that while Madman goes about on his adventures he is trying to figure out who he is. But trying to find out who he is isn’t simply finding his original identity but also exploring the subject from a philosophical stand point.

There is certainly an interesting cast of supporting characters: there’s Gale an invisible scientist or something, Dr. Flem a decapitated scientist, Joe-Madman’s girlfriend, Dr.Boiffard the scientist that brought Madman back to life, Mott a space alien and about a dozen others.

The writing isn’t the best I have read but the character is interesting and the comic is enjoyable, Allred’s strength really is his art. Although for an artist driven book it is much better than most others like early Spawn, Top Cow and Radical comics stuff.

Allred’s art to me is best described as sort of a tribute to Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and John Romita. The work characteristically is very much a sort of neo-pop art which really works for the comic.

The color work is done by Allred’s wife who is a bit simple in her coloring but works since the old school Marvel tended to be simpler too. So overall the entire thing just comes together and really works.

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