SmaxAlan Moore’s Top 10 series remains one of the best things to come out of his America’s Best Comics line, second only to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. So it’s little surprise that two of the main characters, Smax and Toybox, have been given this spin-off story.

Smax is an eight foot blue giant, originally hailing from a comically clichéd alternate Earth, where medieval fantasy themes are reality. Moore and Cannon derive much of their comedy from this, ripping into every fantasy concept from Tolkien to role-playing games. The artwork is littered with references to fantasy culture, providing those who like spotting these sorts of things with hours of entertainment.

SmaxHowever, with this being a good Moore story, there’s more to it than fantasy pastiche. The strongest sub-plot is formed from a bizarre love triangle, adding more than a little sexual tension; while the sharp, witty dialogue literally brings the characters to life.

Smax returns home for the funeral of his Uncle, taking Toybox with him in the hope that she can keep him out of getting too involved with his past. But when old demons come back to haunt Smax, Toybox becomes more interested in helping him exorcise them. As a result, what starts off as humour-laden parody eventually collapses in on itself, necessarily becoming a bit more serious in order to find its natural conclusion.

Still, the reader’s journey through the book is well worthwhile, providing an entertaining aside for some well-loved characters. Top 10 fans shouldn’t expect any police drama, but revisiting these favourites in an alternative genre should make up for this, unless fantasy really isn’t your bag. On the other hand, if you’re a fantasy fan with an appreciation of Terry Pratchett-style knowing comedy, Smax is sure to delight.

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