Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Groovy Atomics

Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy, once wrote that Michael Allred’s It Girl was “the cutest girl in the history of comics.” What about Allred’s art could render such an achievement?

For one thing, there’s the way her just-shoulder-length yellow hair frames her heart-shaped face. There’s her tight pink top with lots of exposed midriff. And there’s that gun belt, slanted across her hips, whose holsters carry not weapons but makeup — she uses the holsters as a purse.

Isn’t that perfect for a 21st century cute girl crime fighter?

It Girl is one of the Atomics, a team of beatniks — yes, that’s right — who were mutated, first with putrid-looking skin, then with super powers.

Beatniks who talk a lot and who spend a good deal of time getting lost in alternate dimensions and worrying about who has a chance with whom (“Luna!” “Oh, Adam!”). In their run of 15 comic books under their own name, they were involved in one actual attempt to stop a crime — against the bank-robbing Skunk (yes, that’s right) — and they really didn’t do so well.

But that’s not the point. The Atomics (released in large trade paperback format as Madman and the Atomics, Madman being the more commercially successful Allred character) may look reminiscent of Ant Man, Iron Man and Plastic Man, but they’re about running, jumping and having adventures, never mind any heavy-duty sci-fi plot details.

One cover line, designed a la Jack Kirby, one of Allred’s influences, reads: “One Will Die!! But Who? And For How Long?!” On another cover, Zapman (not absolutely sure why he’s called that) cries, “My mom ate my dad! How do you think I feel?”

It’s all about the flow, daddy-o.

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