A Spin-Off of Top 10 by Alan Moore. The series focuses on the titular character and takes place right after the events of the series it was spun off from. Like Top 10 it pays homage to genre comics, but instead of superheros and police procedurals, Smax focuses on classical fantasy settings, with the titular hero coming from that sort of world.
Jeff Smax receives news from his homeworld that his adoptive uncle has died, and prepares to go back for the funeral. He also invites his partner, Robyn Slinger (AKA "Toybox"), to go with him. When they reach Smax's former home, Robyn learns that Smax is embarrassed of his homeworld, that with the exception of his twin sister, Smax's family are all dwarves, that his "real" name is 'Jaafs Macksun', and that he brought her with him for more than just company, something she only finds out when he introduces her to his family.
After his uncle's funeral, circumstances manifest that remind Jeff of why he left in the first place, and that when he did leave, he left unfinished business behind. Because of this unfinished business, Jeff is eventually pushed into going off on a quest to slay a dragon named Morningbright. A dragon that he has had prior dealings with, and which is responsible for the presence of the hand-shaped mark on his chest...
- Abusive Parents: Smax and Rexa's ogre father was particularly hard on Rexa.
- Action Girl: Rexa certainly seems to know how to use a battle axe.
- Affectionate Parody: Of fantasy literature and games, for the most part.
- All Myths Are True
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Played with, as Morningbright can change his form at will.
- Badass Boast:Morningbright: You see, it's like this. In the beginning, God created me... Then he made the universe, from what was left.
- Brain Bleach: Smax has this sort of expression on his face when he returns from his quest to find his elderly (adoptive) mother sexually dominating her dead husband's brother.
- Brother–Sister Incest: The core of Smax's embarrassment about his home dimension. Not that it stops him from participating...
- Cats Are Mean: Invoked by Morningbright, a sadistic feline-looking dragon who enjoys playing with his prey.
- Chess with Death: Well, Chess with one of the Deaths. The Death in charge of all those games is named Lionel, and he happens to be terrible at chess (hence all the stories about peasants beating Death at chess).
- Cold Iron: Toybox finds herself having to defeat a dragon in a magical realm where her gadgets don't work. Her eventual solution has a big technobabble justificationnote , but in magical terms it basically amounts to killing the monster with Cold Iron.
- Cultural Cringe: Smax has this in spades for his home realm — traveling there requires the use of arcane rituals, the locals play up rustic stereotypes to appease visiting tourists, and adventuring is a bureaucratic hassle that includes mandatory quotas and regulations for various fantasy tropes. Not to mention his twin sister having the hots for him...
- Cynicism Catalyst: We finally learn why Smax is such a caustic jerk. He's still blaming himself for failing to save a little girl from Morningbright.
- Death by Origin Story: Smax and Rexa's mother - from being raped and impregnated by an ogre - she might have survived if they weren't twins.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- Jeff accuses elves of swindling people and stealing babies. Major complaints against The Fair Folk in traditional folklore, yes, but also stereotypically believed to be things Romani have done.
- Smax' embarrassment over his homeworld for being a backwater, including incest being accepted, along with their being no technology is like someone being ashamed from coming from an area like the Deep South.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Elves are basically every negative Romani stereotype: fast-talkers, horse-thieves, casanovas... Even the one Robyn sleeps with was angling for a Green Card Marriage.
- Fantastic Racism: Elves aren't really trusted on Smax's world.
- Fantastic Fantasy Is Mundane: The dwarfs on Jeff's quest pass the time by playing "Malls & Muggers""So we're in the lightning-powered goods department, and a sales-fiend is approaching?"
"Avoid him! I'm throwing one nine-sided gnome bone."
"A four? Oh, that's just great!"
"Sorry, not good enough. This sales-fiend has eight persuasion points. He sells you a sandwich toaster plus five-year service guarantee."
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink
- Foreseeing My Death: Upon being killed, Morningbright says "I knew this would happen!"
- Genre Shift: Top 10 is a hybrid of a Police Procedural and a superhero comic. The Smax miniseries is pretty much a parody of generic fantasy literature.
- Made of Iron: Smax and, presumably, his sister too (bordering on Nigh-Invulnerable, since the nigh-omnipotent Morningbright can do nothing more than bury him alive).
- The Multiverse: Back home Smax was apparently aware of this, but only used it when he really felt the need to get away from everything.
- Mundane Fantastic: Particularly funny when signs come up that Smax needs to go on a quest, and he stubbornly tries to dismiss them all, including some impressive apparitions in the sky as weather phenomena. Only when his adoptive aunt lists all the phenomena she witnessed does he go on the quest.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Smax's dad was apparently this. Even after Smax drugged him, staked all his limbs to the ground with sharpened logs, and started a fire under him, he was still alive and snarling until Smax kicked in his stomach (which was just a pile of ashes by then).
- No Tech but High Tech: Discussed and defied. When Rexa tells Robyn that "science doesn't work here" (referring to her machines no longer functioning), Robyn doesn't buy it — science is not a synonym for "electronics", after all, and Smax's world does have levers and wheels. In the end, pondering this issue rather than assuming Science Is Wrong in this universe allows Robyn to figure out how to kill Morningbright by using an astrophysics analogy.
- Oh, Crap!: Plenty, but most memorably when Toybox gets the message "Heed, Earthly Lass, Lest Our Rustic Orb Become Your Nemesis." Don't get it? Read the capital letters together; Morningbright gives an advance greeting to Robyn, somebody he hasn't even physically met yet.
- The Omniscient: Morningbright can deliver a message to Robyn from years before without ever meeting her and even foretell his own death, saying he knew it'd happen.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Morningbright is referred to as a "Firstborn" and has god-tier powers- everything from breathing fire to instant regeneration to sizeshifting to turning into a gigantic cloud made of smaller versions of himself. On top of that, his appearance is more feline than reptilian and his powers come from a miniature sun made from the souls of his victims.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: And apparently every formally approved quest involves a mandatory dwarf quota. They themselves do some Lampshade Hanging on this.
- Playing with Fire: Morningbright's a dragon, and fire-breathing is definitely included in the package.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:Smax:HOWSmax:MANYSmax:DWARVES?
- Rasputinian Death: Smax's father was stabbed through the chest with a tree, burned alive, and was still trying to eat Smax through it all.
- Self-Made Orphan: From being born, Smax involuntarily killed his mother and then later kills his father for repeatedly raping his sister.
- Shout-Out: Far too many to mention here, as in most of Moore's works.
- Sizeshifter: Morningbright can freely change his size from "bigger than an elephant" to "footprints the size of a city". As he points out, it'd be stupid to live in a place full of narrow tunnels if he was too big for them.
- Survivor Guilt: Smax left his home, and went as far away as Precinct 10, because he couldn't save a little girl from a dragon. Her handprint was permanently burned onto his chest, which didn't exactly help matters.
- Take That!: A Harry Potter parody appears being dragged by the ear by his tutor and unable to do anything but gurgle nonsensically.
- The Grim Reaper: There are various reapers with different specialties: Lionel for getting beaten at chess (he also handles the bureaucratic side of questing), Dennis for the major ones, one named Keith for an unknown specification.
- Talking Weapon: Smax's singing sword."...Wait a minute. That's 'Dancing Queen'."
- Your Magic's No Good Here: Robyn is dismayed to discover that her high-tech toys don't work in Jeff's home dimension. But just because electricity doesn't work doesn't mean physics won't.