Mighty Max is a series I'd have LOVED to get into as a child. Unfortunately, I never did, so I can't claim to have any nostalgia for it.
On the other hand, I'm able to look at it objectively today. And I like what I see.
Mighty Max is not a series that features much in the way of character growth, interpersonal conflict or philosophy.
What it does have are three likable heroes with great chemistry, an amazing soundtrack, and no limit to the scope of what they might face.
I tend to believe that character development isn't quite as important as character chemistry. Max, Virgil and Norman have chemistry. They're in no way dysfunctional - Max considers Virgil somewhat stuffy, but they pretty much always get along - and never have trouble working together to save the day. On paper, this might sound bland and without conviction. In practice, however, it's hard not to love them all and root for them to win.
While there is a central villain, his episodes tend to be special events, while the bulk of the series focuses on a new monster of the week. Most of them are about what you'd expect; mad scientists, dragons, super-powered barbarians, demons, sentient viruses, aliens, a radioactive 50's family man and his army of giant scorpions... Nothing you can't find elsewhere, but that doesn't make them any less fun, nor does it stop them from throwing a few curve balls.
When you get right down to it, this show is a distillation of what makes an adventure series work; Fun, likable heroes traveling the world and facing all manner of exotic foes. Max, Virgil and Norman may not have much drama between them, but I love following their exploits and I love seeing them in action. I love the outrageous foes they face, and I especially love the soundtrack.
What makes the series stand out, I believe, is its refusal to pull punches. Some might describe it as dark, and that's not untrue. People die. The show doesn't pretend they don't. Max faces a constant struggle, and his victory against Skullmaster is uncertain. And yet the show never stops smiling. The world is a scary place, which is why Max and his friends are needed. But while sacrifices will be made, victory is never out of sight.
Mighty Max is a simple creation, but also a very beautiful one.