Mazeworld

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Mazeworld is a complete story from Alan Grant and Arthur Ranson, first published in 2000AD from 1996 until 1999. My copy is a beautiful paperback that collects all three books with forwards by both Grant and Ranson. The forwards are nice and do include neat little tidbits and background into Mazeworld’s creation.

Adam Cadman is sentenced to death for the murder of his brother. As he hangs from the rope and is about to die, he’s transported into a mysterious world where myths and civilization is based on a maze. When Cadman arrives, he appears as the prophesized hero; the Hooded Man who will save Mazeworld from evil. However, Cadman soon realizes that he must make a choice. Should he help a group of rebels take control of Mazeworld or succumb to his own death? All as he dangles at the end of his rope in his reality.

Alan Grant and Arthur Ranson are masters. And if you’re already annoyed by that phrase then I would stop reading now. Because I’m going to say it over and over again. Because it’s true. There’s no denying it. They’re simply masters in this craft of comic book making.

But let’s get into the specifics. After reading a few of these collections that Grant is a part of, you start to understand what makes him great. He’s able to take an intriguing concept and flesh it out to a compelling story that moves beyond its premise. It starts off pitchy but by the time you’re in the middle of it, you marvel at how complex it is. Such is the case in Mazeworld as we watch Adam Cadman dangle from the end of a hangman’s rope and transported to Mazeworld. His hood is literally branded onto his face, and with every betrayal and act of selfishness, the rope tightens around his neck. Is there a path of redemption for Adam?

For killing his own brother?

It’s genius.

Being a child of the nineties, I couldn’t help but read Mazeworld and think of the countless B-movies that aired on TBS. And if you’re a kid with a whole summer to kill, you’ll watch them all, multiple times. Mazeworld is Beastmaster meets the Neverending story. Because by weaving us in and out of Mazeworld, Grant and Ranson brings us in on their secret. We effectively become a part of the story. And much like Bastian in the attic, you’re excited and scared at the same time. But you mange to keep turning the pages just to see what happens next.

And that brings us to Arthur Ranson. As I’ve just come off from finishing Button Man, the colorfulness of Mazeworld is a jarring contrast from the dark and gloomy world of Harry Exton. But it works. Ranson is such a masterful artist and his character designs are incredible. His art anchors the story into realism that makes the blood and scares real, but he pulls back just enough to allow the fantasy elements to become the centerpieces. It’s a wonderful balance that he masterfully achieves. 

If you’re a fan of the other 2000AD collections you’ll find a lot to love here. You can’t help but smile as yet another evil scientist takes center stage by the second volume. It’s a nod to the classics that came before Mazeworld but it also allows it to create its own legacy. And like many of Rebellion’s published collections, the book sports trusty flaps on both the front and back covers. So make good use of it and mark your place when you decide to stare away in bewilderment, shaking your before returning to the page. Yes this is indeed happening.

My only complaint is that there is a finality to the story and you want to explore more of Mazeworld. Grant alludes to elements in the first book that do find their conclusion as you progress through the story. Still, I can’t help but wonder if there are more stories to tell or perhaps more story outlines hidden away somewhere, perhaps even placed in a maze of which only Alan Grant has the map. I hope we do see something again from Mazeworld because there’s still a lot to discover. But as is usually the case with tthese things, we’ll just have to use our imagination.

Further study

Mega City Book Club – Episode 77: Mazeworld

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