From director George Miller and writers Mark Sexton and Nico Lathouris comes Vertigo’s Mad Max: Fury Road. The title we focus on today is Furiosa #1.
The comic book version of the Mad Max property seeks to capitalize on the incredible success of the film Mad Max: Fury Road. Do not, however, go into Furiosa thinking this will be a continuation of that aesthetic. If the movie was the downside of a roller coaster, consider this one-shot to be that tense moment of anticipation where your anxiety builds as you reach the crescendo. Gone are the war sounds of “Guitar Guy.” In their place are the melancholic chords of a piano playing wistfully.
Whereas the movie is a relentless orgy of carnage, Furiosa pulls back on the throttle to take a look at the lives of what Immortan Joe refers to as his “breeders.” While the comic is named after the character played by Charlize Theron, this is the story of a captor and his prisoners. It serves to bridge the gaps the film was unable to fill. We begin to understand the seeds being planted that precipitated Furiosa’s decision to help these young women at the expense of her own life.
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If the events of Mad Max: Fury Road are the fruition of an idea, Mad Max: Fury Road: Furiosa are the seed they grew from. Ironically that seed is unknowingly planted by Immortan Joe himself. And what is a seed but an idea? It is the one true reality that all those who would attempt to have dominion over other the weak. When the many poor realize they outnumber the few who are wealthy chaos will reign. This is how revolutions start. The wives’ teacher Miss Giddy refers to this oversight as “the folly of old men.”
“…he made one fatal error. To guard against depression and mental ills, he gave the girls an education…”
-Narrator referring to Immortan Joe
We can infer from the events of the film that the wives suffered sexual abuse. The graphic nature of the comic, however, makes one realize the horror of their situation. This ugliness serves as the catalyst of Furiosa’s decision. It is also where the comic begins to provide background to the film. For most of the comic, Furiosa is not the heroic character we saw on the big screen. She initially resents the women for complaining about their situation. In her eyes, the lap of luxury they live in should be enough to overlook the aforementioned horrors. In time, however, even she sees the depravity of it all. A paradise is still a prison when you’re not allowed to leave it. Freedom at a cost is no freedom at all.
On one hand this internal conflict might diminish the reputation of the character. After all, Furiosa initially allows several sexual assaults to take place. On the other, it serves to humanize her. For example, she she sees the wives as spoiled at first glance. How could she not? While death and starvation rule outside, they are afforded the luxuries of food, water and fresh air. It’s only after she sees the true depravity of the situation that she decides to act. After all, not every hero is born. Occasionally, a seed must be planted.
If there is any issue to be taken with this story it’s that may be one story that does not need to be told. The most notable example of this in recent history was the release of the Star Wars prequels. Most famously, we discovered that the force was a biological manifestation as opposed to an unexplained power. This, as we know, backfired. People weren’t interested in seeing behind the curtain. The Force was cool as it was. No explanation was needed. Fortunately, Mad Max: Fury Road: Furiosa feels different. It does not attempt to demystify the character and mythology behind her heroic decisions. In fact, the entire premise of the story is that the events of her life are recounted by a future civilization.
Finally, while the material in Mad Max: Fury Road: Furiosa may be unpleasant, it does not mean we shouldn’t be witness to it. There’s little to cheer for in a story when only good things happen to our protagonists. In order to enjoy a triumph we must first see our heroes face adversity. While the suffering in this story is truly awful, it will be that much more exciting when our heroes persevere.
See Mad Mad: Fury Road and buy the comic if you decide you want more background into the universe.
Nicholas Bennett is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TheTVBuddy