Review by Ian Keogh
The Dr. Boiffard of the title was the nutty scientist who brought Frank Einstein back from the dead, albeit with no memory of his previous life, and who later injected himself with a formula intended to increase the processing capacity of his brain. The unfortunate side effect of its success was that Dr. Boiffard’s brain kept expanding, eventually reaching a point where it was considerably larger than the rest of his body and preventing him from moving. Matters have now reached a crisis point.
That seems to be the case for Frank also, as the suppressed memories of his previous life are beginning to re-emerge, and it seems as if he wasn’t always the cheerful and well-intentioned hero able to appreciate the wonder of life. Reflecting this, Allred throws in a number of other less cheery items, including a good joke about Joe Lombard’s father, and several ill intentioned types keen to find Boiffard themselves. Yet Allred’s also playing with spiritual themes, with the building blocks of life. Do robots construct belief systems?
Because Allred throws so many balls into the air this collection has a loose and discursive feel. Every chapter switches direction, and every chapter throws some new ideas into the blender without resolving much of what preceded them. By the end Madman has more questions than answers, and several interludes appear to have served very little purpose, such as the introduction of Hugh Roderigo, a man whose purpose in life is to befriend others and to be their benefactor. It’s a nice idea, and has a role to play in the following collection, but he’s clumsily introduced.
If there are some qualms about the plot, there are none about the art, which is as vibrant and appealing as ever. The eccentric story material even feeds the art, pushing Allred into strange new corners. It turns out that some robots do have a belief system, so how should that be drawn? Allred comes up trumps.
The Complete Collection Vol. 4: Heaven and Hell, concludes Madman’s time with Dark Horse, and is also the final material reprinted along with this in the two Image collections Madman Gargantua and Madman Vol. 3.