Into the back issue box #30

Yes, I know I've been remiss about keeping up with these every weekends.  Usually my weekends are busier than my weekdays, so I have to sacrifice something, and my wife won't let me sacrifice quality time with the family.  The nerve of her!!!!

Anyway, as usual, the rules of these posts can be found at this link.  This week's entry is a fond favorite to some people, but the first comic I've ever read starring the character.  Read on!

'Mazing Man #12 by Bob Rozakis, Stephen DeStefano, and Craig Boldman.  Published by DC, December 1986.


'Mazing Man is spoken about in hushed tones around the Internet, as many people remember him fondly and with a wistful longing for the days when comics were more innocent and fun.  I, personally, have never read a comic with the character, and this presented a perfect opportunity.  Plus, I could consider whether it would be a good book for a first-time comic book reader!


Personally, I wasn't the biggest fan of this comic.  It's a bit too cutesy, and although it has its charms, it just didn't do much for me.  But let's look at the two stories in this issue.  In the first story, Denton, who's a dog, is writing a script for his comic book.  His typewriter ribbon is shot to hell, though, so he needs to get a new one.  He and 'Mazing Man, whom everyone calls Maze (and so will I) and who wears a yellow bucket on his head, goes with him.  We learn something about Maze on the second page: he has money.  He gives it to Denton without expectation of repayment, and apparently has done so very often.  Denton and Maze head out into their neighborhood, which is apparently in Brooklyn, to find a new ribbon.  He heads to the store, but it's been replaced by a video store.  Denton remembers that he used to buy comics at a candy store and they occasionally carried office supplies, so he checks in there.  No luck.  He meets a new policeman who is very polite, unlike the one he remembers.  The typewriter store has converted to computer equipment, and the clerk digs up a box of ribbons in the back room.  Denton resists the urge to buy a computer.  Denton starts to feel melancholy because everything is changing around him.  He's about to turn 30 and he's feeling old.  As usual, Maze gets involved in an argument between two belligerent groups, and when Denton joins in, he gets his clock cleaned.  This leads to a final change - Maze has to type his script for him.  The story ends with a quote from St. Augustine:

Be always displeased with what thou art.  If thou desirest to attain to what thou art not ... always add, always walk, always proceed, neither stand still, nor go back, nor deviate.

Man, that St. Augustine could turn a phrase, couldn't he?


The second story is about Denton's thirtieth birthday.  Maze abducts Denton to his neighbor's apartment, where all his friends throw him a birthday party.  We learn that his sister is human, but not why he's, you know, a dog.  We also learn a little bit about his friend - one of them is pregnant, another keeps porn in his kitchen - and at the end, Denton gets a computer.  Maze gets him a scrapbook with pictures from his past so Denton won't be so upset about everything changing.  At least he can reminisce with his scrapbook!  This ends the issue, and, as it turns out, the series.  In the letters column, DC made some noise about bringing the series back, but all they could muster, apparently, were three specials in the next four years.


As I mentioned, I wasn't too impressed with this comic.  The art is charming and goofy and actually does a nice job of evoking a New York neighborhood and apartment building.  DeStefano gives the characters personalities and does a fine job with facial expressions throughout the book.  There's a lot of wonderful body language in the book, and DeStefano packs each panel with great details.  Despite the cartoonish quality of the art, the people look more real than a lot of comic book characters, and even 'Mazing Man, with his bucket and his boxer shorts on the outside of his clothes, looks like someone who put together a costume by himself.


The stories are simplistic and nostalgic, and although there's a nice wistfulness to them, they don't quite work for me.  (For instance, would a 30-year-old in 1986 really be that nostalgic for a typewriter?  It feels like Denton should be 50, not 30.  But that's just me.)  However, a first-time reader wouldn't have any problem with them as soon as he suspends his disbelief and stops wondering why this dog is wandering around New York talking to everyone (and, of course, there's that human sister of his).  Maze himself doesn't appear to have any powers, and from what we learn in the first story, he just likes to get involved and try to fix problems.  That's cool.  However, there's the suggestion that he's rich, plus there's the fact that he does dress up, so there's the hint of something deeper about Maze, but Rozakis never goes there.  What this book is for a first-time reader is a nice diversion, a way to connect, perhaps, with something from their past that mattered to them.  Denton is a bit young to be whining about how everything changes, maybe, but his nostalgia is heartfelt, and who hasn't indulged themselves in some self-pity now and then?  The birthday story is just a nice way to get all the friends together to bond.  It's nothing ground-breaking, but it's a comfort story.  That's really all Rozakis is going for.


A first-time comic book reader wouldn't necessarily need to learn the answers to the questions about the issue.  These are two decent stories that show many of the strengths of comic books.  That's good enough, because something like this might lead people to other comics.  It certainly won't drive them away.  If the stories are somewhat simplistic, they're still sweet, and they show a cute world with an anthropomorphic dog and a dude who wears a bucket on his head.  And what's wrong with that?

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