Comics based on films are nothing new. From Star Wars to Psycho there has long been a link between the silver screen and the printed page. Madi is a little different however as despite existing in a universe shared by co-writer Duncan Jones’ films Moon and Mute, this is a whole new story, illustrated by some of the most talented artists in comics. Jones is also famously the son of a certain David Bowie so is Madi Hunky Dory or is it a slightly rusty Tin Machine?
Madi tells the story of Madison Preston, part of an elite special ops crew paid by a large tech corporation to protect their intellectual property, no matter what the cost. Madi, like the rest of her squad, are enhanced by top-of-the range technology and implants that are that ridiculously expensive to maintain, meaning that she can’t afford to walk away from the corporation and her morally ambiguous employment. When she decides to take on a side job for a rival company, stealing what turns out to be an enhanced child, Madi end up on the run from everyone.
Jones of course has made his reputation as a film maker and has fallen into writing a graphic novel rather by accident, following conversations with followers on Twitter about how best to complete this loose trilogy with Madi. As director of the forthcoming Rogue Trooper movie he does have comic book credentials however. He also has a co-writer on board in the form of Alex DeCampi (Bad Girls, Twisted Romance, Full Tilt Boogie) who helps to bring his vision to life.
What makes Madi exceptional is the art from Glen Fabry. And Simon Bisley. And Chris Weston, Rufus Dayglo, Ed Ocana, Dylan Teague…Madi is a feast for the eyes, illustrated and in some cases painted by some of the finest artists currently working in comics. It’s a joy to read as you wonder who’s drawing the next segment and if it can beat what you’ve just seen. Often this works fantastically well. When Madi and her companions visit a Vegas-style casino to try and win some desperately needed funds, the wildly cartoonish art of James Stokoe completely nails the manic tone of this part of the story. This is massive contrast to the clean, understated line-art of fellow Canadian Pia Guerra. Her work is perfectly suited to a low key sequence designed to show the growing relationship between Madi and her new companions Dean and Ted as they drive through the desert. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes the shift in tone is dramatic and Madi can go from looking slim and athletic to as bulked up and muscular as Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 depending on who’s on drawing duties.
Jones is a film maker and Madi feels incredibly filmic. It will remind you of a lot of movies you’ve seen before from the Matrix (uploading information directly into your mind), Aliens (Madi’s squad are essentially the Colonial Marines) to Akira, Mad Max, Run Lola Run, John Wick and T2. The main plot (warrior-for hire looking for well paid work tracks down a valuable “asset” for their employer, only to find it’s a child with enhanced abilities. Warrior end up as parent substitute for child) rings more than a few Mandalorian bells but seeing as that was heavily influenced by Shogun Assassin which in turn was an adaptation of the Lone Wolf and Cub manga maybe we’ll let that one go. What you do get from Madi is a non-stop, beautifully illustrated, funny, exciting graphic novel whose 260 pages just fly by. Do not be at all surprised if you read in the not-too distant future that a film adaptation has been green-lit. In the meantime, remain indoors, await instructions from your corporate authority and make sure you’ve read Madi.