Review: Max Payne 3 Issue #3: Fight and Flight
Title: Max Payne 3 Issue #3: Fight and Flight
TL;DR: A calm but witty closing to the prequel series
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Last time we saw Max he was in a bit of a pickle: a no good Jersey homeboy had a gun to his head in a run down Hoboken bar. So when I saw the front cover of this issue and Max is pointing his pistol at the reader with lacerations all over his face I was expecting a serious beat down. Unfortunately the closing issue of this series (which sets up the events of Max Payne 3) provided a different kind of story, but it’s very enjoyable in its own way. We’ve spent a fair amount of time learning about Max’s past, and in this issue we see how those events pile together to convince him to take a chance in Brazil.
The first thing to notice is that Max’s character hasn’t changed. He’s still the dry pessimist whether he’s at a wedding or with a gun to his head. But here’s where the disappointment set in, I was expecting Max to unleash some serious justice on that kid, but instead we get a Deus Ex Machina and a whole bunch of talking. In walks a former police academy compatriot of Max’s (Raul) and we spend the rest of the comic trying to work out if this chap is really who he says he is. After all, Max doesn’t remember him. As their conversation heads off into Max’s glory days (including references to Proust) we have the return of the colour scheme for events in the past. This time it’s red. Things are going to get bloody.
We’re reminded once again of Max’s childhood: an alcoholic father seems to be the reason for Max’s own drinking problems, which started at a young age. His obsession with booze is matched by his obsession with the Angel of Death, as if it’s following him everywhere. It’s from this conversation that we skim along the storyline of the previous games, filling in any holes and motivations. Revenge seems to be a major one. Though what’s most enjoyable are the short returns to that bar in the present day. Max’s humility when complimented give him at least one endearing trait. It comes out when he’s playing down the claims of Raul who appears to be the world’s greatest wingman. Raul’s stories show Max’s attraction to those without self pity. That’s been a lovely common theme throughout these comics: seeing different sides to Max which are ignored when he’s delivering slow-mo diving headshots.
The presentation of the plot and themes has stepped up a notch too. The dialogue is smoother than the previous issues and we don’t feel thrown around between disconnected events quite as much. Though I would say that some of the reminiscing feels a little forced. The language is as coarse as ever (that’s Hoboken for you) and there are some quality insults against the “Guidos”. One in particular comes to mind: “Orange streak of …” well, I’ll let you fill in the blank there. The artwork has been at a consistently gorgeous standard throughout the series, and here we’re treated to more scenes across multiple panels, including one that’s spread across a silhouette of Max holding a gun. Just eye-gasmic in its beauty.
The Max Payne storyline has often played it a bit fast and loose with conspiracy stories: the Inner Circle comes to mind, and this issue does well to swiftly brush over that, but the plot here really shines when it focuses on genuine concerns for cops. The anarchy that spread over New Jersey once the Punchinello crime family was eradicated leads one to question whether organised crime is the lesser of two evils. This issue even gets political by blaming the press for focusing more attention when the victims of crime are middle class folk as opposed to the underbelly of society. But really the common theme throughout this issue is Max and love.
Losing his wife, child, and best friend was devastating for him, but we see references to Max’s willingness to search for love still. He recalls Mona fondly, and his chivalrous attitude really shines through. For a start don’t hit women, but really don’t hit women if Max Payne is around because he will flip out. So is love the motivation for Max Payne 3? Is he heading off to Brazil in search of a new life and new love? Well he still has some resentment for love because of the vulnerability involved, but it feels like we’re being led to believe that Max wants to live and love again. Though maybe Brazil is convenient as that’s where Raul is heading. Head off they do, and so begins Max Payne 3.
All Max Payne 3 comics are free to read online or download here.
- Outstanding artwork as always
- Witty and entertaining dialogue
- See Max in a new light
- Expected more action
- More of a recap of events than a new story
Definitely not one for the kids: swearing, bloody violence, and references abound to drugs and sex. I’m interpreting the explicit content warning on the cover as meaning 15+.