Thursday, March 12, 2009
Madman: The Oddity Odyssey
I have a friend who was raised Mormon. I'm not sure for how long, but she says she wasn't that interested as a kid, and her and her siblings now look back on it all as completely ridiculous (even her parents aren't part of the church any more). It really is probably the most ridiculous "accepted" religion. It's probably about 100 years past the derision Scientology currently receives.
Anyway, my favourite Mormon (as opposed to my favourite ex-Mormon) is Mike Allred. Most people had no idea he even was a Mormon until a few years ago when he started doing that comic book adaptation of the Book of Mormon*. Maybe I should have been tipped off by the bio in the back of Superman/Madman that said his marriage to Laura Allred was arranged. More likely I just didn't believe that, because based on the comics he's produced, Allred may seem crazy, but not Mormon crazy.
The first time I ever saw Madman was probably on the cover of Superman/Madman. I didn't read it at the time, I don't think I even looked through it, but somehow I still remember seeing it on the rack of comics at a Shoppers Drug Mart. I don't remember any other Superman comics, hell, I don't remember any other comics I didn't buy (apart from an issue of Captain Canuck?). When I finally read it years later, it became my favourite Superman comic (not that it would be that hard to do that as, despite the Superman hoodie I own, I don't like the character that much). Still, I though Allred's artistic depiction of Superman was really good, and I'd like to see him do more Superman comics.
But this is Madman: The Oddity Odyssey, the first Madman comic (I think?). Before it was even in colour. When Allred didn't draw the comics on the right size paper (note the filler art on the bottom of every page). When we didn't know who Madman was, because he didn't either. He was just a guy in a costume who ate a gangster's eye. He was crazy.
From the begining Madman was fairly ridiculous. This trade is filled with people stuffed into freezers, so that they can be brought back to life later, train hopping, clones, a deupty mayor gone bad, a head in a jar, creepy diseases, helicopter shoot outs, papermache solar systems, the aforementioned gangsters, and through it all Madman fights it out with everyone using a slingshot and a yo-yo.
I get the feeling Allred had a goal for where he wanted this story to end, but he was just making everything up along the way. It works though, as even at this point in his career Allred's skills are clear. The art is good, if it hasn't completely developed into the later style Allred is so well known for. It's weird seeing Madman without his hair sticking out of the top of his costume.
But yes, it's weird that this comic is made by someone who is apparently a devout Mormon. I don't really know what to make of it, time to find some interviews with Allred I guess. Maybe the library has back issues of the Comics Journal.
*Come to think of it, I don't think I know anyone who's ever read it, is it any good?