This was all going to come out over the next few pages of the comic, but occasionally I fall into the writer's trap of wanting to discuss things ahead of time. Especially things beyond what can be picked up over a quick read through of the comic so far.
In other words, while most of what's being discussed below has already happened, there are a few small SPOILERS. If spoilers aren't your thing, then you may want to skip this post. Don't care about spoilers and want to listen to me ramble? Then read on...
Max's actions are influenced not just by who he is, personality-wise, but also by his age and recent events.
It's hard to remember at times, but Max is just twenty-four. I don't know about you, but I was a damn fool at that age. I said things back then that I regret and burnt more than a few bridges. When we're young we tend to do stupid things. It's part of being young. I'll admit, I still say and do stupid things, but the last ten years have taught me how to filter and moderate myself. Max is still learning this art.
"That's insulting! I'm twenty-four and I don't act like that!" Congratulations! You're the exception to the rule! Have a cookie.
To continue, Max has also been up for over twenty-four hours now, most of that time spent working. Exhaustion is starting to set in, as is hunger and thirst. Most people get a little irritable and mouthy when under similar conditions.
Okay, the basic stuff is out of the way. Now let's go beyond mere age and bodily needs and look at what's going on in our little rodent-boy's head. I know there's a lot of story to remember, so here's a quick recap...
1) he's recently discovered that his Commander, a man whom he respects, has been willfully sending agents to a country where many go "missing" ( Issue 10, page 14 )
2) he's recently discovered just what going "missing" in Astoria means ( Issue 3, page 23 )
3) he's witnessed Cedric attempt to take Ruby, one of his closest friends ( Issue 5, page 20 )
4) he's had a similar threat made against himself ( Issue 5, page 23 )
5) he's spent time interacting with Gadel who assumed he himself was a slave based on the RCSI band ( Issue 7, page 13 )
6) he's learned that Moraine doesn't quite trust the Commander herself ( Issue 10, page 19 )
7) he's spent the last evening being chased by Gavin who seems hell-bent on dragging him into fey for all eternity ( Issue 13, page 13 )
8) he's found out the young prince can work magic ( Issue 13, page 17 )
9) he's found out Moraine can also work magic ( Issue 14, page 11 )
10) he's done something every story about the fey that he's heard told him not to do and entered the fey realm ( Issue 14, page 1 )
11) he's been run down, dragged off a horse, and had a sword raised against him by fellow RCSI agents ( Issue 14, page 21 )
12) and he's found out what's most likely happened to Nyx ( Issue 15, page 10 )
This has all happened in just a little over a month or so in comic time.
I don't know about you, but most people I know would want assurance that their superiors aren't engaging in an activity that frightens or appalls them. While we're able to ask politely when well rested, when strung out most people tend to be blunt. We blurt out our immediate thoughts and fears.
Exactly what Max is doing.
When reading about a character, it helps to stop and think about how events in the story may actually be affecting said character. Personally, I don't like stories that I feel insult my intelligence - that lay every little thing out for me. I prefer stories that make me think and look between the lines. That's what I'm trying to do here, engage you a little bit. My goal isn't to make you laugh, it's to make you question the thoughts and actions of these characters. Some you'll agree with. Others you won't. That's natural. But, if you want to understand a character's actions fully, it helps if you try putting thoughts of 'well I would never do that' aside and see things from their perspective.
The events listed above are pretty recent in Max's mind. More than a few have shaken his faith in RCSI and the general chain of command. Having Moraine express her displeasure of the Commander's actions only shook things up more. Switching his trust to Moraine was easy when he thought she herself wasn't a threat. Then he learned that she's a mage. Gadel's assumption based on the RCSI band is something he himself never would have thought of. It's an assumption that made him feel embarrassed as well as indignant. Gavin's attack threw more questions into Max's mind. It's still three years to Tithe Night. If Gavin's singled him out for the Tithe, why come after him now? While having fellow agents attack him was upsetting, he could rationalize it away once he realized they didn't know if he was actually mortal. Still, being attacked by colleagues... not fun. And I'm sorry, but what Cedric tried to do would scare the bejesus out of anyone. Unless you're into that kind of thing, of course. Which, Max is not.
Does this mean I think Max's behavior is proper? No, nor am I trying to excuse it. But, I do think it's how he would realistically behave given the events leading up to this point. Max occasionally pops off, saying or doing things he's not supposed to. It's part of who he is. We're aware of this. He's not doing it because he's a git. He's doing it because he's Max - a person who is at times pessimistic, lacks self-confidence, is unable to discuss his problems, and has control issues.
As for Roderick being understanding... there's a reason for that, too. Roderick wants to do just what Max assumed! Don't believe me, look at his facial expressions. Panel one, unease at Max's venom at the idea. Panel two, guilt that he himself occasionally entertains such thoughts. Panel three, a mixture of annoyance and determination at not following his gut.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that my art is not the best out there. I'm still learning and facial expressions are a little tricky at times. But, I hope that Roderick's raised ear and slightly pursed lips in panel one, lowered ears, drooped eyebrows, and hunched shoulders in panel two, and half-lidded eyes and lowered eyebrows in panel three were able to convey his emotions at least a little bit.
If not, there's one thing that should have helped. Pay attention to how Roderick responded. Notice that he didn't come out and say Max is right and they don't engage in such actions because doing so is immoral. He merely says that they don't engage in such actions because Moraine told them not to. Big difference.
Again, this will be coming out more in the comic over the next few pages. You'll see Max attempt to backpedal and apologize and Roderick admit that being in the fey realm is starting to warp his morals. But you know how it is. Writers occasionally get a bur up their butt and spout off little things before their time. And while I mostly talk about drawing on this blog, I am also the writer of CN:H. I sometimes fall victim to the urge.
But for now, I really need to get to sketching. This post has gone on much longer than I initially intended and I've work to do. Later!
"You must look into people, as well as at them."
-- Lord Chesterfield