Mad Max: Fury Road assaulted theaters in a storm of sand and blood and flamethrower guitars when it came out last week. Reception to the movie has been overwhelmingly positive so far, with critics praising the film's use of practical effects, non-stop action, visual style and stunning cinematography.
What they aren't praising is the film's dialogue, or more specifically the general lack thereof. As a result, the history of the apocalypse and the origin of many of the film's characters go largely overlooked in director George Miller's latest. That may leave you wondering: who exactly is Immortan Joe? What is the deal with Nux? How did the Citadel come to be?
If you asked any of those questions, the new comic from DC's Vertigo arm is the book for you. This first issue of a four-part miniseries is divided into two-halves: the first explores the origins of Nux, the War Boy who accompanies Max for much of Fury Road. The second (and far more interesting) tale shines light on Immortan Joe, the film's big bad.
Watching Fury Road is a relentless assault on the senses, so it was easy to miss some of the relationships between characters. Various locations, like the Bullet Farm, are also mentioned in the film but not ever seen. This comic gives some context to those references, showing how shortly after the apocalypse Colonel Joe Moore became the tyrant that would later be known as Immortan Joe, his long relationship with his two right-hand men who can be seen in the film, his conquering of the Citadel, his deformed children and eventually his unending desire for a non-mutated male heir.
But while this comic tells sets up the story and expands on the characters in a way that the nearly wordless Fury Road movie doesn't, this book lacks what makes Fury Road such a treat in the first place.
Visually, the book is a bore. It lacks style. Aside from impressively detailed drawings of the tattooed "historian" who serves as the book's narrator, there just isn't much for your eyes to latch on to. The action is static panel after panel. The colors are all the same, largely dull browns and grays. Nothing pops or stands out. For a Mad Max: Fury Road tie-in, that is really a shame.
For fans interested in learning more about Miller's world or those who have just watched Fury Road and are curious about the backstory behind the film's cast of outrageous characters, this comic is worth a read. If you are looking for pulse-pounding action and superb visual storytelling, you are better off just going to watch the movie again.
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