Max Ride: First Flight #1 Review

Written by: Marguerite Bennett (adapted from James Patterson)

Art by: Alex Sanchez

Publisher Marvel

Adapted from James Patterson’s Bestselling book Maximum Ride, Max Ride: First Flight is a highly enjoyable comic that feels tonally different to many other marvel books on the stands and works extremely well as a comic despite its novel origins. The story follows a group of teenagers that have been experimented on and given strange powers who are now on the run from their captors. All the while they are being hunted by monsters called erasers which threaten their life at every turn. The opening issue offers a strong hook and entertaining character dynamics, however at some points it feels like something has been lost in translation.

For the most part, Bennett handles the adaption excellently and makes the story feel really suited to the comic form. There’s a lot of narration in the opening, which made me worry it had fallen into the trap of over-explaining things, but Bennett really knows how to balance narration and dialogue while also letting the art tell the story. She also writes the dynamic between the team really well, with the characters feeling real and with genuine connections to each other. They avoid feeling like stereotypes and still manage to sound like most teenagers today, I’m sure many young adult readers will enjoy their dynamic and witty banter. The only problem with this is that it feels like some stuff has been left out while transitioning the story from the novel to the comic. I’d like to point out, I’ve never read the novel so this is speculation on my part, but we get a lot of backstory in the opening few pages and we just sort of get dropped into these characters lives, so for the first half of the book it felt a little like I’d started the story halfway through. As the book went on though Bennett manages to skilfully reveal more about the characters, their powers and histories through dialogue, so I give her praise for that and not resorting to lengthy textboxes. By the end of the issue, I feel I know these characters a lot better, but they feel so interesting and likeable that I think maybe I’d have liked the book to move at a bit of a slower pace in order to get to know the cast better before the action kicked in.

What especially impressed me was the art by Alex Sanchez, which is absolutely gorgeous and makes for some really impactful story telling. Like I said, usually novel adaptations read too much like the novel itself with some pictures thrown in, but Bennett and Sanchez work perfectly together and made me forget I was reading an adaption and instead just felt I was reading a pretty great comic. Throughout the book Sanchez makes excellent use of full page and two page spreads the punctuate some of the more impactful scenes with a cinematic quality that makes them leap off the page. His depictions of the monstrous erasers too feel suitably menacing and anytime they invade the page there’s a genuine sense of fear and tension. It does a great job of getting you involved and sucked into the story. The colours by Ester Sanz add a very atmospheric quality to the comic, the scenes of the cast just chilling out feel very homely and idyllic, whereas the world outside is harsh and dark, furthering my immersion in the story. My only complaint is that occasionally the line work in the faces can feel a bit rough, it’s nothing too drastic, it’s just odd that for the most part they look fantastically detailed, then occasionally, especially during the action, they seem a little rough or blurry. It’s weird, but isn’t too detrimental to the otherwise top quality art.

Overall, it definitely feels like Marvel have put some great talent behind this book. It feels like something that can reach outside the audience of people who loved the book, I know I have never read it but personally really enjoyed this and will be keeping up with it. It’s got a very Runaways vibe to it, and anyone who enjoys that or series like Young Avengers is sure to enjoy this book. It takes a little bit of work trying to figure out the characters, but once you do it’s easy to get involved in the story and makes for a very enjoyable read which I’d definitely recommend.