Smax 5 annotations

Smax 5 cover – art by Zander Cannon

Below are annotations for Smax #5 “5: Please leave us here, close our eyes…” 24 pages, cover date May 2004

Writer: Alan Moore, Artist: Zander Cannon, with Andrew Currie, Richard Friend, Wildstorm FX, and Todd Klein

Go to Annotations Index

Note: some of this stuff is obvious. If there’s stuff we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments, or email linton.joe [at]

General summary: Smax and Toybox battle the dragon Morningbright.

In 2010, Paul Andinach did annotations for this issue. This page expands on that work.


  • Any reason behind the yellow substance on Smax’s sword? On page 10 Morningbright’s blood is colored red. Suggest??
  • The stars (faraway suns) perhaps allude to Morningbright’s solar-fusion power.


  • The collected Smax has a four-line poem before each chapter. This one reads:

Oh, where has gone the hero,
Where his mighty sword?
We must strive with iron will
His courage to reward.

  • The “iron will” alludes to the iron spike used to kill Morningbright.

Page 1

panel 3

  • Lionel told Toybox about Dennis back in Smax #3 P12,p1.

Page 2

panel 1

  • “Please leave us here, close our eyes” is a line from the Syd Barrett song “Octopus.” Each of the previous issues’ titles are also from that song.
  • Smax’s sword is still singing the same song as last issue: Abba’s “Dancing Queen.” Note that Smax is not happy with the singing – holding the sword at arm’s length.

Page 3

panel 5

  • “No way, epée” is a play on the expression “No way, José”. “Épée” is the French word for “sword.” In modern English it usually refers specifically to a light sword used in one of the three styles of fencing.

panel 6

Page 4

  • Naruli is the maiden whose handprint appears on Smax’s chest – seen in Smax #2.

Page 5

panel 3

  • “You come here and say that” is a stereotypical response to an insult. Jeff doesn’t have a large supply of wit.

panel 6

  • “I know you are but what am I?” is a common child’s retort insult.
  • The singing sword has switched to a different Abba song, “Fernando,” which is more sad and regretful than “Dancing Queen.”

Page 6

panel 6

  • Moore is careful to let readers know that Morningbright’s name is a hint at the source of its power.

Page 7

panel 2

  • Toybox uses some actual scientific facts to fashion the weapon to kill Morningbright. This echoes Moore’s science-comedy Jack B. Quick comics in Tomorrow Stories.

Page 8

Page 9

Page 10

panel 2

  • “Bright matter” alludes to a scientific basis for Morningbright’s power. Though the internet doesn’t have much referencing/defining bright matter, it is likely a contrast to dark matter.

panel 3

  • “Whatever” is another typical playground rejoinder.

Page 11

panels 2-3

  • This is more playground banter from Jeff.

panel 4

  • “Let that be a lesson to you” is stereotypical hero dialog, which is at least a big step up from stereotypical playground dialog.

panels 4-6

  • These form a fixed-camera sequence.

Page 12

panel 5

  • Morningbright’s expansive perception of time is somewhat like Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen. Both of them are associated with nuclear energy.

Page 13

panel 3

  • Starting here, though page 15, Toybox is explaining the science of mass defect. Only elements lighter than iron/nickel are able to be used in nuclear fusion, the chemical process by which suns generate heat and light.

Page 14

Page 15

panels 2-6

  • Toybox continues to explain actual science – see P13,p3 above.

Page 16

Page 17

panel 1

  • “Cover your eyes” echoes what Smax told Toybox in Smax #1  page 9 panels 6-8.

panel 2

  • “I knew this would happen” is another indication of Morningbright’s expansive perception of time.

panel 4

  • This is, of course, the iconic mushroom cloud from the detonation of an atomic bomb. It is probably also an HP Lovecraft reference. The Outer God Nyarlathotep, known as “The Three-Lobed Burning Eye,” is the spawn of Azathoth, who is often identified as a living nuclear explosion.

Page 18

panels 3-5

  • In this fixed-camera sequence, Naruli lifts her ‘maiden mark’ hand-print off Smax’s chest.

panel 6

  • The bald-headed child might be a reference – suggest??

Page 19

Page 20

panel 1

panel 3

  • “Green card” is the informal name for the United States Permanent Resident Card. Foreigner-marries-American-citizen-to-gain-permanent-residence is a plot that’s been done often enough to be recognizable in shorthand, perhaps most famously in the 1990 film Green Card.

Page 21

panel 1

  • “Making you blue” is silly. Toybox uses blue as meaning ‘sad’ though Rexa’s natural skin color is already blue.

panels 7-9

  • These form a fixed-camera sequence.

Page 22

panel 1

  • The unfinished Death Star from the Star Wars movie Return of the Jedi is hovering over Jeff’s head, with an imperial TIE fighter flying near it.
  • The three triangular (bridge?) structures appear very specific. (Have they appeared in Top 10?) Suggest??
  • “Red Shift Gifts” refers to the astronomical phenomenon of red shift – where light is altered by fast-moving bodies. Here is appears to be a sort of duty-free store for travel across space-time.
  • Who is the hero character with the L on his chest? Suggest?? A Reddit  commenter, OrdovicianOccultist, suggests that this could be a combined Superman-Batman, with the L standing for Loser.
  • Through the Habitrails by Jeff Nicholson

    The Nicholson Industries building, with its assortment of duct-like Habitrails, is a reference to Jeff Nicholson‘s comics series Through the Habitrails. Nicholson’s Habitrails comics were published in early issues of Taboo, alongside chapters of Moore’s From Hell and Lost Girls. Thanks to Monty Wirth for spotting this reference.
    (Earlier speculation suggested this referred to Jack Nicholson‘s Joker in the 1989 Batman film, in which the villain suffers an industrial accident, loosely based on Moore’s The Killing Joke.)

  • The canopied flying ship appears specific. (It looks a little like Mr. Magoo’s car?) Suggest??

panel 2

  • Hathor was the mother goddess of the Ancient Egyptians, sometimes depicted in the shape of a cow.

panel 3

  • The Ghost That Drives, his costume and his skull emblem are references to comic strip superhero The Phantom, who is called “The Ghost Who Walks”.
Star Wars AT-TE – via Wookiepedia
Poster for the 1996 film The Phantom – via Wikipedia

panel 4

  • “Slam Evil” was the advertising slogan of the 1996 film version of The Phantom.

panel 5

panel 7

  • The “Whack-A-Mole Burgers” W logo resembles DC Comics Wonder Woman logo. This could be reference to Alan Moore departing from DC, then DC buying out Wildstorm, effectively bringing Moore back under the DC umbrella against his will.
    For what it’s worth, the W-logo fast food bags appeared earlier in Top 10 #6, page 4 – though this panel is the first place where the company name is stated.

Page 23

panel 1

  • The woman in pink is minor character Mrs. Gillespie, seen in Smax #1 and  Top 10 #6. (Does her dog reference something? Suggest??)

Page 24

panel 2

  • Hanging towels over doors is, of course, not a best practice – but that of a messy bachelor.

panel 4

  • “Happily ever after” is, of course, a cliché storybook ending; Smax is not so comfortable with it in the Neopolis world.

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