Max Damage and his new sidekick Headcase have rescued Alana Patel, former girlfriend of the Plutonian, from the white supremacist Diamond Gang. The gang has deployed a large tank to Coalville, Max’s home town, armed with a nuclear weapon that could level the ruined city. Former US Senator Swain, the gang’s leader, is waiting until Max arrives before he orders the weapon’s use. Meanwhile, Alana tells Max why she blames herself for Plutonian’s insanity. He forgives her and asks for her moral guidance. Swain realizes Max may survive the weapon’s blast. So he goes on television “exposing” Max as the leader of his gang and asking any police left in the city to kill Max Damage.
I like Takara’s art in this issue. I know he’s just the fill-in artist, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him take over the title. His work as a clean, classic style that reminds me of Darwyn Cooke only simpler. I also found his panel layouts to be very effective at underscoring the mood. The sequence where Alana has flashbacks to Plutonian when she sees Max lift a car conveyed her fear and trauma perfectly. Solid art and great storytelling.
The story has taken an interesting twist as Swain basically sells out his own people to get revenge on Max. I have to wonder if he’s thought beyond this play. Will he sacrifice some of his men to show the gang’s “defeated,” while hiding the rest? Is he just using these racists to achieve a larger goal? Or is he just throwing everything he has at Max and not thinking about tomorrow?
Max’s plea to Alana for guidance reveals the character’s weakness and self-doubt. It also shows he has enough self-awareness to know he can’t change alone. It’s like an addict asking for a sponsor. He needs someone to catch him when he falls. So it seem fitting he’s chosen an ex-alcoholic cop and a suicidal woman who thinks she’s responsible for the deaths of millions. Maybe he’s not asking for help as much as he’s creating an emotional support network.
It’s interesting to contrast Max’s life with the Plutonian’s. Max is reaching out for help as he struggles to become a better person. Plutonian has driven away or killed all of his friends as he gives in to his baser instincts. Personally, I find Max the more interesting character. My favorite stories are about how a person changes. Watching a bad man turn good is far more compelling than watching a good man go bad.