Feb 26, 2013

[Comics] Sam & Max: Surfin' the Highway

So I've become quite the dedicated comiXology user over the course of the past year given how easy it has made it to acquire various comic books at reasonable rates. And while I still do value the novelty of having a physical book in my hands, there are those titles that I love enough to want to spend money on but not enough to justify the rates of comics on local shelves. and besides, this is a heck of a lot better than piracy.

This title was a bit of a surprise to me since I was not expecting it to go on sale so soon after it was initially released on the platform. And $5.99 is an amazingly ridiculous deal for what is quite a treasure for fans of this particular comic series.

And while I can't say that I was a die-hard Sam & Max fan before I had purchased this title, I was a fan of the old adventure game based on this franchise that remains one of my favorites from that period.

Synopsis: Sam & Max: Surfin' the Highway is a compilation of all of the original comics in the series along with other supplementary art pieces. The comics were originally created by Steve Purcell in 1987.

For the unaware, Sam and Max are a buddy cop team of sorts where Sam is a dog in a blue suit and Max is rather psychotic rabbit-like thing. The two call themselves the Freelance Police, although it's strange to me how they receive all their missions from a mysterious Commission who calls in their tasks. If they're freelance, why do they only perform missions for one guy?

To call the humor behind the strip unique is a bit of an understatement, I have to admit. Almost anything that Max states, regardless of how strange or violent it may be, can always be answered with "You crack me up" by Sam and other variants. And the comic itself reflects the creator's unusual sense of comedy such as how a story set in the Philippines can end up looking nothing like the Philippines given the stated lack of references. But we push on anyway and see where the mad capers take the pair.

And for some reason we can't say "ensuing" around Max too much. It upsets him.

The compilation has us following Sam & Max to a wide variety of locations as they try to "solve" the various cases that they take on. But it's a bit of a mystery as to what the mysteries really are and in the end too many tasks are solved with wanton use of their revolvers or Max just being his crazy little self. This is probably not a comic book very safe for children, now that I think about it.

I think the real gem of this collection include the colored comics and art pieces from Purcell's time at LucasArts where he created comics for The Adventurer, the old LucastArts newsletter. Thus we had Sam & Max exploring various LucasArts properties such as Star Wars or even other adventure games like Full Throttle. The results were interesting, to say the least, and it's always nice to see the boys in full color; I appreciate the novelty of the original black and white strips, but color remains to be more vibrant.

If you were a fan of the adventure game (like me) or have gotten hooked on the more recent episodic titles, then this is a great comic book for you indeed. Sam & Max: Surfin' the Highway has a unique brand of humor that still survives the test of time and works for all of you geeks that like a lot of wanton cartoon-style violence and ridiculous situations. I'll admit I'm a bit biased when I rate the book a full 5 moments of Max doing the totally unexpected out of a possible 5.

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