TITLE: The Maze Agency Issue #2
YEAR: December 2005
COMPANY: IDW Publishing
Writer/Creator: Mike W. Barr
Penciller: Ariel Padilla
Inker: Ernest Jocson (of Studio Sakka)
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Editor: Dan Taylor
Back in 1988, writer Mike W. Barr created The Maze Agency for Comico Comics.
The series would last for seven issues and when Comico Comics ceased all publications, the series moved onto Innovation comics for the remainder of the run for issues 8-23 and lasted through 1991.
With the challenges that independent comic book companies had in the ’90s, the series had a hard time finding any footing.
Alpha Productions featured a Maze Agency story in the anthology, “The Detectives” issue #1 in 1993 and a prose story in “Noir” issue #1 in 1994. Caliber Comics released the series for three issues in 1997-1998 and IDW Publishing did a mini-series in 2005/2006 and reprinting the original issue s#1-5 in TPB. While a second prose story appeared in the anthology, “Sex, Lies and Private Eyes” by Moonstone in 2009.
“The Maze Agency” is a comic book series that revolved around former CIA agency, Jennifer Mays who runs a private detective agency. Assisting her is true-crime writer and amateur sleuth Gabriel Webb, who happens to be Jennifer’s boyfriend.
And as with many detective agency comic books, there is always a police officer also trying to solve the case and often in odds with the detectives and in this series it’s Detective Roberta Bliss, a NYPD homicide detective. While she and the Maze Agency work together, they also often find each other in odds, especially when it comes to sharing information.
In the three-issue mini-series for IDW Publishing, for the second issue, Jennifer is a judge for the 2006 Miss Empire City Competition representing New York’s Outer Boroughs. Jennifer is selected as one of the judges for the pageant.
While Miss Empire City 2005, Janice Sherman is being introduced and walking down the stairs, the steps to the stairs break off and sends Janice tumbling several feet into the ground, leaving her unconscious.
Detective Bliss and the police find out that someone sawed the steps in half and not only was it intentional, the saw was found in one of the pageant’s competitors, Danielle Dominguez from Queens. While found in her dressing room, Danielle claims someone put it in her room.
Meanwhile, the show must go on and the Miss Empire City Pageant gets a second chance. And as Wik Yamashiro from the Bronx is practicing, when she drinks a sip of water, she is poisoned and is sent by the hospital.
This causes concern for the the police and of course, the Maze Agency to find out if there is a serial killer on the loose and who is responsible.
For the most part, almost every issue of “The Maze Agency” is well done and with the IDW Publishing mini-series, it’s great to see how the story goes into the relationship between Jennifer and Gabriel much more and the hints of jealousy that Jennifer feels when Gabriel is near a woman or women.
While many stories of “The Maze Agency” is fair-play and gives readers clues of who may be responsible, not all issues are. And in this case, there were some clues in this issue that I didn’t catch at all but did find this mystery quite fascinating and entertaining to read.
If you are interested in reading the original stories of “The Maze Agency”, the good news is that the original TPB is available from IDW Publishing (reprinting issues #1-5). Check it out!