Review by Ian Keogh
When originally published as serialised comics, Michael Allred relaunched Madman with a new publisher, so the opening pages deftly run through background material already seen in The Oddity Odyssey and Madman Adventures as Frank Einstein attempts to recover memories of who he was. From there the opening chapter is a primer on Frank Einstein the person and Madman the series. It’s something Allred does so well, throwing in so many disparate elements that under other hands would be an incoherent mess, but which Allred fuses into magic. We have mini-robots with hands and street beatnik thugs, pure and joyful love and nutty scientists, aliens and sarcastic private eyes. At the centre of everything is the upbeat Frank, only ever referred to as Madman by others.
Aliens, spaceships, more robots, some with mighty familiar appearances, high seas adventure, a circus of freaks, gangsters, more David Bowie references… the following three episodes escalate the weirdness and emphasise the fun. This is material that lives up to the tagline of the original comics being “The World’s Snappiest Comic Magazine!”. For the final chapter Allred switches tack slightly, moving the cast to Ireland where it seems they’ve slipped into a conventional action-thriller plot. Don’t worry. Hellboy drops by, Madman avoids his own prophesied death and there are even more robots. It’s great.
As Dark Horse continued to issue Madman graphic novels, it made sense to have them linked, so when Yearbook ‘95 was reprinted it was as volume one of The Complete Madman Comics, but more prominently subtitled Crash Course for the Ravers. It’s more recently been combined with volume two as Madman Volume 2 from Image Comics, and can also be found with all other pre-21st Century Madman in the Madman Gargantua!.