Comic Review: Batman/The Maxx: Arkham Dreams – The Lost Year Compendium (IDW Publishing)

A real head-scratcher, Batman/Maxx: Arkham Dreams, The Lost Year Compendium, is now available from IDW. It contains the first three issues of the comic of the same title. More issues […]

A real head-scratcher, Batman/Maxx: Arkham Dreams, The Lost Year Compendium, is now available from IDW. It contains the first three issues of the comic of the same title. More issues are presumed to follow.

With the title “Compendium” (described in a dictionary as “a collection of things, especially one systematically gathered”) a new reader might expect a bit of an explanation of who The Maxx is… but no luck. Thanks to Wikipedia, though, I now understand that The Maxx is the hero of a 5-year 1990’s comic series from Image and creator Sam Kieth. The Maxx travels or inhabits two worlds: the real world, and something called ‘The Outback’, which in this case is neither a restaurant nor an area of Australia. And so on, briefly stated.

So, with our context somewhat less hazy, we embark with The Maxx and Batman, on a quest, or a journey, down the rabbit hole, through Alice In Wonderland’s theme park, up through the ground like bubbling crude. It’s wacky, with Sam Kieth inventing new beings, creatures, situations, and dangers. It’s free-wheeling willy-nilly, bordering on silly, but it does have a strong graphic sense of drama. The big things are immense, the tiny things are even tinier than tiny. Teeny-tiny, maybe. The talk is of imminent death, loyalty to the Jungle Queen, loads of arguments, and open disagreement between our two heroes. And so on.

And the drawings, dramatic and exaggerated, are like pipe dreams, vaped to our skulls, taped to our eyes, scraped off our lids. Night sweats, candy-colored clowns that need sanding, a topsy-turvy adventure that seems to unravel like real dreams do: page by page, big splash pages with new Jack Kirby-like inventions every few moments, the appearance of the Joker, loads of bickering and self-questioning that meander off the path and into the bath, or cursing math and trying to wake up and smell the coffins. And so on.

It’s wild, wooly, might be solid gold for Maxx fans, and definitely a thrillingly inventive route to madcap self-rumination.

IDW Batman/The Maxx: Arkham Dreams- The Lost Year Compendium, $7.99 for 70 pages of content.

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!