Tony D.'s reputation is well known among teenagers, who know it's best to avoid him: "Cross the street, hide, whatever it takes." But there is something about Blade's commanding voice--or perhaps it is his "fancy cool cowboy boots with metal toes"--that makes Max and Kevin stop when they are ordered to do so.
"... Andre the giant and the dwarf, hold on a sec, I want a word with you." (Chapter 6)
"Big mistake," Max decides. But Kevin shows no fear whatsoever when Blade "leans over Freak." With his "chest all puffed out," Kevin turns and walks away; but looking back, Kevin calls Blade a "cretin." Blade shows his "vampire teeth" and Max begins to wonder if Blade is "just going to kill me quick." But a siren sounds, and Blade and his gang exit, "burning rubber in their Reeboks." Kevin's courage is based in part on the belief that Max's size would be too much for Blade.
"You can take him, right?" he asks a couple minutes later.
I go, "Are you kidding? You can't just fight Blade, you have to fight his gang, too." (Chapter 6)
So, realizing that his misplaced bravery may have been merely overconfidence, Freak whoops it up at their good fortune: The boys are still alive, having survived a "Close Encounter of the Turd Kind."