This collected edition of the Mazeworld stories contains all three volumes of the saga, originally published in 2000AD. The book was reprinted due to massive fan support on 2000AD's website, which prompted their publisher, Rebellion, to release this premium collection. The book itself is well made with a nice glossy feel to the pages, making it seem much more of a collector's item than some graphic novel reprints.
The story concerns Adam Cadman, a convicted murderer, who becomes the first person sentenced to death by hanging in 30 years since it was outlawed. The hanging is botched and Cadman finds himself at the end of his tether (quite literally) and drifts between two worlds. His body remains in our world, but his consciousness seems to travel to the Mazeworld, where he finds himself embroiled in a rebellion against the Maze-Lords, the corrupt ruling body of this fantasy world. The theme of mazes is utilised heavily with the corrupt Maze-Lords building them to use as dungeons to punish those who dare speak out against them. Mistaken for the legendary 'Hooded One', a figure from Mazeworld's history, Adam finds he has a second chance at his life, allowing him to find redemption for his crimes in our world and to become a hero.
The story is very well written by Alan Grant, who doesn't delve too deeply into the history of the Mazeworld or its politics, letting the reader piece together the mythology themselves. Where the story really sets itself apart from other fantasy strips published in 2000AD is the amazing artwork by Arthur Ransom, whose photo-realistic art immediately draws you into each panel and believe in this world of Mazes. The inclusion of Ransom's artwork elevates what might have been a standard fantasy story of travelling to another world into something much more.
There are some amazing double-page spreads, such as the moment where Adam Cadman (still wearing his execution hood from our world) hijacks a flying lizard and flies above the Mazeworld, giving the reader a 'lizards-eye' view of the various mazes that comprise the realms. This image is so iconic to the series that it is given the honour of becoming the cover artwork to the book.
Out of the three volumes collected, I found the second, "The Dark Man", to be the most entertaining due to the villianous Dark Man himself, who becomes Adam Cadman's nemesis. The beginning of the book opens up with an interesting prophecy that 'one will live, but not live and one will die, but not die' and you read through the book wondering how this bizarre prediction will come to pass. The design of the Dark Man is a brilliant one, with his third eye embedded in his forehead, which opens up with an evil stare before unleashing dangerous energies to destroy those in its gaze.
I would recommend this to recent fans of 2000AD who are unaware of the comic's long history of brilliant comic series, especially ones not set in the future, but then I would also recommend it to fans of the 'dungeons and dragons' fantasy genre too, as it is a unique take on that style of storytelling. All in all, this is 2000AD at it's best and one of the series that I had wanted reprinted for some time!