5 out of 5
So just as the previous ‘Mazing Man Special went against what I’d praised in the first one – swapping its full-length story for vignettes – writer Bob Rozakis and artist Stephen DeStephano defy me once more and double down on cartoonishness and gag strips… and the special (the final one, sadly) is all the better for it.
The roundtable of inkers returns, which makes this a visual spectacle: I’d say Bob and Steve play into each inker’s style a bit more directly this time, giving the comic a fun, varied feel both tonally and visually, while staying within the confines of newspaper funnies. This vibe is furthered by the Sunday Comics-style title panels, and the inclusion of “bonus” strips at the end of most of the vignettes. And while our main creative duo have kind of battled for space – Bob with lots of words, Steve with lots of visual gags – allowing slapstick and cartoon energy to take the reins here seems to have refined and sharpened Bob’s writing, paring down to just what’s needed to get the jokes across, and, in the issue’s sole serious strip, there’s a similar focus, with Steve balancing that by giving the panels room to breathe a bit more, despite his fantastically animated characters. (These sober moments are usually brilliant, and it follows suit here – a bar discussion amongst “friends” about cheating on wives – and, as always, this stuff is rather blazingly modern.)
DeStephano also brings back some of the overblown style of the first Special, but I think because this is pitched in a slightly bizarro-world MM (due to that newspaper comic vibe), it works really well; it also feels more controlled, though, like the designs are overblown, but the action / choreography takes place within reasonable extremes.
No letters page, which is a bummer. Would’ve been nice to hear / read some final thoughts, but at least the last full ‘Mazing Man comic came ’round to a perfect cover-to-cover delivery.