Friday, July 1, 2016

CBR Max Payne: The Complete Series (Marvel)

Your past is like pieces of a broken mirror. You try to pick them up, but you only end up cutting yourself....

Comic title: Max Payne 3: The Complete Series 
Art by Fernando Blanco
Written by Sam Lake & Dan Houser 

Published by Marvel Custom Solutions/Titan Books/Rockstar Games
From 2013
Lineup Max Payne series
Format: Hardcover trade paperback collecting the 3-issue mini-series Max Payne 3: After the Fall #1, Max Payne 3: Hoboken Blues #1, Max Payne 3: Fight and Flight #1.

A video game iconic cult classic, the Max Payne games have gone a long way since Remedy Entertainment's first game hit the scene back in 2001. Since then a second game was released in 2003 to much of the same success and Rockstar Games have since taken over the license with a pretty good if mixed Max Payne 3 sequel.

Rockstar tried turning this great homage to the action/thriller genre into a bigger scale blockbuster title with the third game. They even made a fairly questionable live action film out of the first game featuring Marky Mark himself Mark Wahlberg in the titular role.

Speaking of, in the hands of Rockstar the 3rd game received as huge a marketing as a Max Payne game ever could. What this means for us is that they even produced a tie-in Max Payne comic book, published through Marvel Comics Custom Solutions. It was a fun recap of both of the first two games as well as exploring new story ideas.

The comic was published as a 3-part mini-series by Rockstar's vice-president Dan Houser and Remedy Entertainment's co-founder and lead writer himself Sam Lake.

These issues were even distributed as free digital downloads by Rockstar, and finally collected in a Max Payne 3: The Complete Series book in October 2013.

This comic was intended to explore Max' childhood, previously unseen scenes alluded to in Max Payne 1 and 2, as well as the events between the second and the third game.

The comic jumps all over the place, so it's really recommended to read it in a single sitting if you wanna get it.

Our comic opens with Max, drinking himself to death in some bar in New Jersey. Suddenly there's these punk ass kids lead by Tony DeMarco, mob boss Anthony DeMarco's son, who enter the bar. They get on everyone's nerves and they finally attack this women, Max tries to retaliate. They threaten him with a gun, so Max grabs his gun...

Max remembers how his life ended up leading him into this place. You see, Max is still haunted ny nightmares about the death his wife and daughter. He grew up in a broken home, witnessing the abuse of his mother by his own father, a PTSD-suffering Vietnam veteran. His dad used to cheat on his mom and sometimes beat her in front of Max. Max would soon follow in his father's footsteps after losing his own family. Now an alcoholic addicted to painkillers...

All this to lead Max to a bar. Where a woman ordered a Gin & Tonic, just like his wife used to. Max remembers his days living in Hell's Kitchen back in the 1990s. How he awkwardly met his wife, their wedding, the birth of his daughter Rose.

Max would join the police. He graduated at the top of his class from the New York City Police Academy. He had a friend, once,  his old partner Alex Balder. Together they went after the Punchinello crime family, the mobsters who had been selling Valkyr on the streets.

Which ends with Tony DeMarco and some street punks putting a fun on Max. That's when Raul Passos entered the bar and pulled Max's ass out of the fire. But Tony DeMarco was finally back in the bar, now with an even bigger crew...

This comic book series is a nice way to tie the events of Max Payne 1, 2 and 3 together in a single narrative, as well as exploring some scenes skipped in the past games.

To make this comic the folks at Rockstar and Marvel went back to Same Lake's old notes for the games. And finally decided to leave the notes and the ideas behind and simply having him write the comic book. He always had this huge complex storyline in his mind anyhow.

The comic allows to expands on the events of these games. The original two games were already heavily influenced by these types of graphic novels.

It's a pretty well-paced story that jumps all over the place while moving towards the events leading up to Max Payne 3. From Max's childhood to his days as a young police officer to the man he finally is prior to the events of Max Payne 3.

Making the story come full circle.

It really captures the perfect voice of Max Payne, and it's really noticeable this was directly written by the creator of the series and not just some random author. It's impossible to not read this comic in Max Payne's voice!

Fernando Blanco's art is absolutely gorgeous and quite fitting for Max Payne. Dark, moody and oppressive.

The games have always been so atmospheric. This comic delivers the same exact tone and quality. It's dark. Noir.

Exploring various scenes from Max's past from being a generally happy man in his life to ending in tragedy. Making a new light how life shaped him up to be the kind of man able to face the horrors that would occur later in his life.

Finally a little word regarding the gorgeous cover art made by Greg Horn for the comic, artist on Max Payne 3.

Overall, this Max Payne comic book is a really good adaptation. It's more than a simple tie-in product but a proper book companion to the games.

I Highly Recommend this graphic novel for anyone looking for a great, mature and dark read. It bridges the narrative between Max Payne 2 and Max Payne 3.

Don't let the "Max Payne 3" title prevent you from checking this out. This is as much for longtime-fans of the franchise as well as casual or hardcore fans of the original two games.

After a decent-looking if somewhat forgettable third game and a really awful live action movie adaptation, this comic is the best Max Payne has ever been in the last few years. It actually has the proper true spirit and tone you'd expect from Max Payne. It really feels like the type of comics the original Max Payne game was making references to.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Snoopies!

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