The cover of this book, in big letters, screams "EXISTENTIAL EXISTS!" I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I think it's accurate.
This is one weird book.
For instance, my favorite part (artwise) is the section where Madman and his guide travel through dozens of artistic styles in the search for truth. One minute their in a Peanuts strip, then they look drawn by Herriman. Or Kirby! Or Tex Avery! Look, they're straight out of Popeye! No, Tintin! Lil Abner/Lulu/Nemo! Archie! Dr Seuss! Sendak! That one New Yorker guy! Prince Valiant! Groening! Crumb! And so on. It's a tour de force of comic history, but (on first read at least) distracting from the story at hand. Perhaps when I read this again it will mean more. Hard to say.
If you've been following my relationship with Madman since I first wrote about him, you may well know that I've been anxiously awaiting his LDS-templesque marriage for some time. It arrived on the final page of this volume but in such a perplexing manner, I don't know how I feel about it. As Allred says himself in some afterwordy notes, I just don't know if it "is a happy ending, or a numbing tragedy". Curse you, Allred. I've a long ways to go before volume two arrives and I have a strict not-paying-for-single-issues policy. (Which, I might add, may well be vital to the health of my marriage.)
One problem I met in this volume is the sudden appearance of the Atomics superhero team. Their backstories were not part of the Gargantuan and so their appearance here didn't fly. In part because they didn't behave like developed characters and I didn't know them from before (ie, they are not my friends). In fact, some of their lines are ludicrous, as if the author merely needed to give them all a speaking role as per union regulations, or he just had more characters on stage than he could handle at once. Perhaps this is part of the Atomics' manner of interaction, but I don't know them so I can't say.
I will say this: I appreciate ambition (of which plenty is on display here) and I trust Allred enough to keep reading. I trust that he will arrive somewhere after a full book with little but upheaval. I'm still willing to be impressed, my mind blown, but that experience is on pause until the next volume of Madman Atomic Comics comes out.
I will strive to be patient.