Those Max Payne Comics? They're Pretty Good


Ever since reviewing Max Payne 3 a while back, I've heard from commenters and others that Max "feels" different than he used to in his older games, which were made by Remedy Entertainment. Max's words sprang from the mind of writer Sam Lake, who also served as a model for the renegade cop.

What's most interesting about the Max Payne comics published by Marvel, then, is that they represent a partnership between Sam Lake and Rockstar's Dan Houser, the men responsible for Max Payne's past and present. They're damn good comics, if you ask me.

The series so far represents a blend of both men's sensibilities, which feel less disparate than some would say. It's a bit of Lake's quirkier, more literary Max as he becomes the rundown wreck he appears as in Houser's more cinematically-minded Max Payne 3. It's a great use of comics as an interstitial tie-in.

Comics based on video games can be really, really bad. Sure, they might be able to replicate the look or expand on the worlds seen in titles like Gears of War, Mass Effect But it's a hard proposition to recapture the appeal of those games in a static medium. It's great, then, that the art by Fernando Blanco manages to make Max's shoot-dodge look like it does in that games, but slightly more toned down. Blanco also recreates the gritty, smoky noir-inflected feel of the games, but pays special attention to the emotions on these game characters' faces.

These comics actually serve as pretty good primers for Max Payne 3, if you're coming in cold. Readers who haven't played the first two Remedy-developed Max titles get the basics: Max was a tough-guy cop who busted sellers of a drug called Valkyr but lost loved ones along the way. But, the best possible reading experience here comes after finishing the story mode of Max Payne 3 and seeing where the panels fit in with the gameplay.

You see one character from the Hoboken flashback levels of Max Payne 3 in some less explosive moments, which retroactively adds a nice bit of tension to what eventually happens in the game. And some sequences get lifted wholesale from the games, too. But it doesn't feel lazy. Instead, Max's depressing solo drinking feels even weightier.

I liked Max Payne 3 mostly it felt like a character study of a man in deep decline desperately clinging to the only thing he's ever been good at: shooting. (Mind you, I don't love the game's story.) After the Fall and Hoboken Blues feel like part of a larger whole and prove to be vital parts of a portrait of what it looks like when a man falls into the worst pats of himself. They're free so definitely take a look.


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