"Maximum Security" was a crossover event published by Marvel Comics in late 2000 and early 2001. The basis of the plot was that an intergalactic council, tired of earth's meddling in the affairs of the cosmos, is to be quarantined off, and then used as a dumping ground for the worst prisoners in the universe. Earth's heroes, as they do every year or so, must band together to stop this plan, as well as the larger, more insidious conspiracy behind it.

Comic book crossover events, especially ones tinged with gigantic, cosmic, earth-threatening catastrophes (which is, after all, most of them), are not for everyone, even amongst the sometimes less-discriminating audience of comic book enthusiasts. But sometimes, Marvel has pulled off some good cosmic slop, such as the early 1990's Infinity Gauntlet. So whether or not "Maximum Security" works is largely a question of taste.

But even giving the series some leeway, I don't think it succeeds very well. There are several logical problems (given the size of the galaxy, it seems unlikely that earth would be able to hold a small fraction of the universe's criminals), some problems in continuity (earth's interference in the galaxy's affairs has not been a major problem in the Marvel Universe before this series), and most importantly, the series seem to be unevenly written, with the supposedly earth shaking events treated almost in passing.

Events, in the comic book world, are usually driven by an attempt to boost readership, and sometimes to make people interested in comics that they don't usually collect. I get the feeling that the entire set-up might have been handed down from the editors or publishers, with the writers hastily shoe-horning it into their comics. Some writers, like Kurt Busiek, who is a pretty good writer and a nice guy do pretty good at it. On the other hand, Chris Claremont seems to kind of mention the entire thing in passing, before returning to have his characters give the same soliloquy about tolerance that they gave in the last 300 issues of X-Men that Claremont wrote.

In all, what could have been a fun and surprising (if a little bit hokey) story about cosmic clashes turns into an uneven, confusing and purposeless mess. Slightly after this crossover, Marvel changed many of their production values and codes, and started turning out some of their best work in decades. And if you read "Maximum Security", you will know just how Timely that decision was.

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