Matt Johnson

MAYDAY #3 (of 5) – Comic Review

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MAYDAY #3 marks the midpoint of the 5-part series.  The issue pulls us further into the complicated world of international politics and then pushes into some lucid personal stories.  Does it hold up to the previous two issues?  Will I ever get a review up before publish date?  Read on to find out.

See my previous MAYDAY reviews here.

My least favorite piece of art in the MAYDAY universe.

MAYDAY #3/5 Cover

Title: MAYDAY #3

Writer: Alex de Campi

Artist: Tony Parker, Blond

Cover Artist: Tony Parker

Publisher: Image

Release Date: 1.18.17

In my review of MAYDAY #2 I lamented that it flew by so fast I felt as though I’d just started when I turned the last page.  This wasn’t due to a paucity of pages; rather, the action swept through each page and almost made them turn faster and faster.  MAYDAY #3 is, mercifully, a more drawn-out read.

Where the previous issue was a glorious action-fest, this issue brings back the political ensemble as a major force behind what’s going on and it gently pushes the story further forward by continuing to peel back the layers of subterfuge by these heavy-hitters.  Mayday #3, though, feels like it’s mostly about Rose.  While we don’t learn anything substantial about her life we’re treated to some gloriously beautiful sequences that show the quiet struggle she’s going through, and her reactions to this struggle show a lot about who she is as a person.

That person-hood: it’s one of the myriad of things that makes this such a good series.  These aren’t droll caricatures of stereotypes filling a page, they are real people going through real struggles, albeit in situations most of us real people wouldn’t ever find ourselves in (hopefully?).  The world and its people are real to the degree I actually found myself googling some of the named government characters to see if they had a historical base.  The real-ness in MAYDAY is augmented by all of the secondary and tertiary characters in this issue as well.  There’s a sort of underlying melancholy here and it affects not only the attractive young “hero” superspies, but the regular people living on the other side of a door or window as well.  While Felix and Rose are looking to cross a literal sea to get to a better situation, regular folk are dreaming of a better life in a different place or state of mind too; crossing the mental sea, if you will.  You’ll see what I’m talking about here when you near the end of the issue.


There’s a really interesting segment where the musical cue is Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun by Pink Floyd but the overlaid words are a Velvet Underground song.  The contrast this created in my head as I paged through created a sort of dissonance that made the beautiful (and beautifully illustrated) tragedy playing out feel just that much more powerful.

As with the previous issues, the inside art is stellar.  Parker and Blond visualize a world with beauty, tension, sadness and hope.  There are, again, quite a few panels that are worthy of being framed on a wall in a gallery somewhere (see: night sequences, cars).  As with the story, the art also conveys a heavy sense of loneliness this time around.  The short side-story with Penny, all of Rose’s featured segments, and the family in their home all stellar examples of this loneliness and there’s a panel with Penny, in particular, that I had to stop and take in, then page back to the start of her story, then back through.  It’s just that good, and that carefully crafted.

I love how the story starts in the morning with a blue and tan theme.  We’re on the beach, enjoying a lovely morning (throwing evidence away).  The artists then move into mid-day with neutral colors, to dusk and finally into dark night.  This natural shift helps convey some extra gravity to the events that are unfolding.  By the end the beach is long gone and the two mains are flying blind, reduced, into an uncertain and likely final few hours.

My only gripe is about the cover illustration.  I’m not sure why but it just doesn’t grab me like the previous two and the previews of the final two have.  Something about the style just seems less refined somehow.  It’s not bad by any means, but I don’t feel like it lives up to the promise of the hundreds and hundreds of previous pieces of art that make up the MAYDAY story.  As I mentioned above, though, the art past that cover page is out of this world, so the artists get a pass.

As always, I highly recommend reading the “Notes” section at the end of the comic.  It’s very well thought out and provides both interesting insight into some of the choices de Campi makes during the writing process, and some powerful personal statements about mental illness/substance abuse and it’s representation within the artistic community and it’s worshippers.  As an aside; reading the afterward by de Campi elicits the same response as the comic does.  She speaks authoritatively, with a combined feeling of nostalgia, glib realism, and a touch of hopefulness and positivity.

This series is amazing and there are only two more issues (sad-face).  Don’t miss MAYDAY #4, out 2.22.17 and MAYDAY #5, out 3.22.17.

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