Madman Comics The G-Men From Hell
#1 (of 4)
[Dark Horse Comics $2.95 US $4.50 CAN]
Written & Illustrated by Mike Allred
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Donít let the title of this comic fool you. Itís really Madman Comics #17 (check the indicia) so if youíre a Madman Comics reader and decided to pass on this mini, youíd better head to your local shop and pick one up or youíre going to be surprised when Madman Comics #21 comes out and the last issue you own is #16. I can see why Allred went this route with the series. The G-Men from Hell arc looks to be a pivotal turning point for the Madman character and it has been a while since the shelves were graced by the presence of a Madman Comics issue (November í99). It has the added benefit of being a nice tie-in to Allredís upcoming G-Men From Hell movie.
Issue one opens with Frank (Madman) back in his observatory home overseeing repairs to the damage caused by Dr. Boiffardís mutating into a giant brain. He and Joe (his girlfriend) are reminiscing about old times when Joeís friend, Sadie shows up asking Frank to find out whatís happened to her boyfriend and Joeís old employer, Mike Mattress. It turns out that he and his partner, Dean Crept, have disappeared. Youíve probably already guessed it but these two characters are the G-Men from Hell mentioned in the title. Frank has had run-ins with them before and theyíre not his favorite people in the world. Basically theyíre escapees from Hell who have come back to Earth and gone into the private detective business to do good deeds and earn back their souls. Frank, because he loves Joe and would do just about anything she asked and because heís a nice guy, does some snooping and discovers the two G-Men from Hell being held hostage in the Mondstadt Building.
It looks like weíre going to be in for some major revelations about Madmanís origins. You see Frank Einstein (Frankenstein, get it?) isnít Madmanís real name. He picked the name and the persona of Madman because he didnít remember a thing about his past.
As a jumping on point for new readers this issue will be a tough sell. As a long time Madman Comics reader (since the Tundra days), itís almost a tough jumping on point for me. Allred has spent too much time away from his flagship series and itís hard to work up the same kind of interest I did when it came out regularly. I probably need to pull out my run of Madman Comics and reread them. It seems like the old spark isnít there any more on this title but perhaps itís my enthusiasm thatís waned. Thatís sad because it used to be one of my favorites.
Allredís art is, as always, wonderful. Youíll see no huge splash pages or wacky panel placements in an Allred illustrated story. His storytelling hearkens back to another era and the art is infused with Allredís retro design sensibilities. I do have a little complaint about the paper stock Allred is currently using on all of his comics. I donít know if the series is selling fewer copies and a cheaper paper grade keeps the price from rising or if heís trying to invoke feelings of nostalgia with the newsprint look and feel of the comic. But when youíre paying $2.95 in the U.S. and $4.50 in Canada for 24 color pages of story you kind of expect it to have a heftier feel. Itís odd to pick up a modern comic and have it feel like a fifty-cent era DC or Marvel.
If youíre new to Allredís work, I recommend picking up a few of the Madman trades before you dive into this G-Men from Hell story arc. Or if you want a cheaper alternative give The Atomics a try. All issues should still be available for reorder if your retailer doesnít have them in stock. The Madman trades can also be ordered on-line at www.darkhorse.com.