Maintenance, Volume 1: It's a Dirty Job…

maintenance.jpgI have one major complaint about the first trade paperback collection of the comic book series Maintenance, and that is that it only gathers up the first three issues. Seriously, three issues might be enough if Maintenance sucked, in which case a single issue is all you would need to read. But that’s not the case with writer Jim Massey and artist Robbi Rodriguez’s comedic series, which really comes into its own by the third chapter, only to leave you wanting more.

Maintenance stars Doug and Manny, two janitors who work for TerrorMax Inc., a research and development company specializing in evil-doing and villainy. The first chapter does a great job of establishing the characters and the premise, as Doug and Manny befriend Manshark, one of the sinister by-products of TerrorMax’s commitment to bring pain and suffering to the world. From there, the stories become even more ridiculous, as Massey and Rodriguez craft fast-paced stories that cleverly set Manny and Doug up to be reluctant heroes within this villainous world. But what is great is that Manny and Doug are not heroes in the traditional sense of comic book lore, but rather a pair of bumbling, blue-collar guys who find themselves continuously having to clean up after a cast of inept mad scientists and wannbe world dominators. Doug and Manny are essentially Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, respectively, in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

The sad thing about a lot of comic books that try to be funny is just how unfunny they really are. There are plenty of artists out there who can draw funny pictures, but not nearly as many writers with a strong sense of humor or comedic timing. But Maintenance is not only comedic in its look—thanks to Rodriguez’s wonderfully rendered cartoon style—it is also funny because Massey knows how the set up a gag, and deliver a punch line.

With a strong premise and solid characters, Maintenance has a lot of potential. With the second trade paperback due out later this month—collecting another set of great stories—Maintenance is one of the few series that I’m actually looking forward to issue to issue. My only big concern is that as a writer Massey will rely solely on the jokes, and not focus on developing the characters of Doug and Manny, both on the job at TerrorMax, but also in their personal lives.

Check out the first issue of Maintenance for FREE!!!

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