Written by Jamie S. Rich
Art by Mike Norton
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics
I remember buying the very first issue of Michael Allred’s Madman back in the early ’90s, with its blue-and-black duo-tone scheme and flip-a-mation dance in the lower-right-hand corner. Over the years I read most of the incarnations of the title, although it was around the time that the Atomics got their own series that I fell away from the series for a while. I find that a little ironic because it’s one of the Atomics that takes center stage in It Girl and the Atomics, a new series from Jamie S. Rich and Mike Norton. And while I’ve read very little about the Atomics, what I do know about the various Madman comics makes me feel strongly that this is a worthy successor.
It Girl and the Atomics takes place in Snap City, where It Girl has the power to take on the properties of objects she touches, and where all she really wants to do is help people. An early encounter with a former foe leaves her discouraged enough to agree to take on the role of test subject from the always erratic Dr. Flem. And that’s when things, of course, just start to get strange. As It Girl and the Atomics starts to spin its story over the first two issues, I found myself impressed that even though I’d been away from this little pocket of characters for quite some time, Rich made me feel immediately welcome. He introduces It Girl and the Skunk quickly and effectively, and then as other supporting characters appear (Dr. Flem, Moot the Hoople, Joe, and so on) we’re given just enough information to grasp their purpose without stopping the book dead in its tracks to (re-)introduce them all.
The tone of the book itself is a pleasant, relaxed nature. Sure, there’s bad things going on and at any given moment disaster could strike, but It Girl and the Atomics never feels grim. That’s part of what works so well for this series; its fun demeanor makes you want to read more, almost inviting you in. Rich also is having fun exploring the nature of what it’s like to live in a superhero world. Not just the idea of a superhero playing themselves in an online superhero computer game, but other ideas like, "What happens to someone guilty of killing a superhero when that superhero comes back from the dead?" Even something as simple as a bored superhero turns into story fodder here, and at no time did anything feel forced. All of this is what attracted me to the original Madman comics back in the day, and it’s nice to see it return here.
Norton is one of those artists who’s been around for ages and just gets even better with time, and It Girl and the Atomics is no exception to that rule. He nails the overall look and feel that Allred’s art also has; clean character designs, crisp lines, and hysterically fun expressions. When Joe shows up and explains, "He’s saying he wants you to let him experiment on you the way he did Frank," you can just hear the dry delivery dripping off of her words thanks to how she’s disdainfully staring at Dr. Flem. I was also glad to see that the overall fashions weren’t lost in the transition to Norton; little signature looks like Bonnie’s big bouffant or the cute little freckles of Joe’s face are still present, and colorist Allen Passalaqua keeps Laura Allred’s pop color scheme on display here too.
It Girl and the Atomics is off to a strong start; having read the first two issues, I’m already eagerly awaiting issue #3. Rich and Norton understand exactly what’s needed for a comic like It Girl and the Atomics; it’s funny, it’s clever, and it’s got heart. The world of Madman is in good hands with Rich and Norton.