Fresh from the Nux and Immortan Joe and Furiosa one shots, Mark Sexton, Nico Lathouris and Director George Miller are back with Mad Max #1. The story serves as a prequel to the events of Fury Road. It depicts Max’s attempt to build the famed Interceptor. As with the other Vertigo Mad Max comics, our story is narrated by a storyteller. He recounts the events of Max’s life via flashbacks. We are witness to the slow decay of the Earth.
The story goes from a once majestic landscape to a desert where even the sand is poisoned. Max, too, undergoes a similar de-evolution. In Mad Max #1 we see the loving husband and police officer descend into a “scavenger” who assesses items only for their usefulness.
Our story opens with Narrator (for lack of a name) describing their “brave new world.” This is an obvious and ironic reference to Aldous’ Huxley’s Brave New World. Huxley, a well-known futurist, was fascinated by the advancement of science. Futurism promoted the growth of the industrial world in the form of technology, specifically cars. Mad Max #1 appears to be the outcome of this line of thinking. Rather than the assembly line of Huxley’s utopia, Max is forced to build his ragged car by piecemeal. This sardonic twist of his philosophy is amusing given that there’s an entire city devoted to “guzzoline.” The city, Gastown, functions as the primary setting of the first issue. It exists as a stand-in for the excesses of Rome. Gastown includes a gladiatorial pit overseen by rabid citizens and ruthless leaders. Max, given no other choice, fights in their colosseum, Thunderdome Plus.
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One notable departure from Fury Road is the agency Max displays. While he is the definition of a “passenger” for a large portion of Fury Road, Max takes a more active role in this prequel. The results of this agency casts a slight shadow over the character. Like the Furiosa One Shot, we are given a glimpse at the pre Fury Road versions of our protagonists. Max isn’t interested in saving the world. Max is only trying to save himself. This dichotomy reminds one of a recent episode of True Detective. One of the main characters says, “sometimes your worst self…is your best self.” In other words, our worst incarnation is perhaps the only one that will help us survive. In Mad Max #1, Max isn’t the man Furiosa and the wives need. He’s the one Gastown gets though. While some may find this depiction of Max and Furiosa upsetting, it adds a layer of complexity to the characters.
Given that Mad Max: Fury Road is still fresh in our collective conscience, it’s difficult not to reference here. Those familiar with the original Mad Max trilogy of films will recognize many iconic scenes from the movies. They’re mostly traumatic events that cause Max to go from ordinary police officer to the “Road Warrior” he becomes in the subsequent films. Mad Max #1 makes a wise decision in this respect. It rewards fans of the original movies by maintaining those films as canonical parts of Max’s history. It also serves to give new readers a deeper understanding of the character. These panels get us up to speed. We do not have to experience an entire origin story.
The greatest strength of Mad Max #1 (and likely the second issue releasing next month) is that fans interested will get more of Max’s origin. This is also its greatest weakness perphaps. Only fans of the property might find it worth reading. It is a story that exists better as part of a grander narrative. It’s best to wait until the entire series is published to appreciate the complete legend of Max Rockatansky.
Check out Mad Max #1 if you want a full tank of Fury Road mythology.
Nick Bennett is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TheTVBuddy