cover image Muddy Max: The Mystery of Marsh Creek

Muddy Max: The Mystery of Marsh Creek

Elizabeth Rusch, illus. by Mike Lawrence. Andrews McMeel/AMP!, $9.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-4494-3561-5

In her first graphic novel, Rusch (Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World) introduces middle-school student Max Dredge, who discovers that coming into contact with mud gives him superstrength, invisibility, an enhanced intellect, and other abilities. But the more he indulges in this mucky miracle, the more the mud refuses to let him go. Max’s “neat freak” parents, who have forbidden him from getting muddy for this very reason, begin to sense that something is wrong when his behavior becomes increasingly erratic. Meanwhile, Max grows suspicious of what his parents aren’t telling him and traces various clues to a swamp outside town. Despite the potential for a superhero comic built around mud (as evidenced by Paul Grist’s somewhat similar Mudman series), elements of the plot strain an already contrived premise (such as Max’s friend’s implausible technological capabilities, as well as the book’s resolution). Colored in appropriately dull browns and grays, Lawrence’s sequential art tries to play up the story’s goofy sensibility and tone, though the mud itself can read more like watery chocolate than viscous muck. Ages 7–12. Agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Aug.)■