Having never pored through the pages of the quirky Madman comics (courtesy of the quirky brain of Mike Allred) I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from It Girl and the Atomics. However, judging from the cover art of the witty direction heralded from the beginning of the story, I should have been able to foresee the bold and hilarious superhero tale unfolding within. It’s sharp, pointed commentary on the genre as a whole and rife with pockets of parody that rivals content seen in that of media like Freakazoid infused with the attitude of shows like The Venture Brothers. At first it may seem silly and vacuous, but you’d be missing out on a thrilling and fresh romp through the world of amateur superheroes should you decide to skip out. These six issues pack a mammoth punch.
The story begins with the flaxen-haired heroine It Girl mopping up the streets of grimy Snap City, cleaning it of criminal scum in the most clichéd manner of superhero narrative ever. She’s on top of the world, and doing an awesome job. She’s also playing a videogame. The real It Girl and the rest of the Atomics, who received their “powers” in a less than conventional way, is much less of a “put-together,” by the books hero. In fact, that’s where most of the humor of It Girl comes from. It’s not afraid to have fun with tried and true convention, and as a result you’re moved to keep paging through for more. And thankfully the decision was made to keep the Madman canon closed off to this spinoff so that even new readers can jump aboard with minimal research and head-scratching.
It Girl’s superpower allows her to take on the properties of whatever item she touches, but of course a superhero like that can get really bored, really fast. So in order to shake things up and make things a little more fun, she donates her body to a laughably bad mad scientist so he can perform dozens of bizarre experiments. At least she’s not bored anymore, right?
That’s only the start of It Girl’s madcap adventures as we learn more about her origins. She locks horns with a videogame villain, and shows us the fun side of comics with less of a side of violence and more personality and action suitable even for younger readers. There’s a subtle air of wink-wink, nudge-nudge humor here reminiscent of Scott Pilgrim and other parody properties that makes it feel a lot more relevant than the by-the-books superhero banter from the beginning.
It Girl and the Atomics , from its very first issue, is an example of a series you might give to a younger sibling or family member looking to get into comics. It’s perfect as a starting point for anyone who might love the bright colors and character designs of the medium, but not necessarily the grit and violence. Jamie S. Rich’s whip-smart writing and Mike Norton’s signature art style complement each other effortlessly, and it’s clear this is a property to follow if how seriously major publishers’ properties take their convoluted saga has begun to wear on your nerves. Pick up It Girl and the Atomics for a quick breath of fresh air that you won’t regret.