Confession time: In some ways, I wish I could take back my review of “It Girl and the Atomics” #1. I mean, I stand by what I said, for the most part. But looking back at the entirety of the first 7 issues, I think issue #1 just didn’t represent how fun, imaginative, and irreverent the series would actually be. I feel like if I’d have drafted the review for the 2nd or 3rd issue instead, this whole thing would have started off on a much better foot.
Okay! Okay! Jeez. I’m not going to spend this column climbing up my own ass, but after sticking with the book beyond a first issue that I wasn’t crazy about, I feel like I owe the book some proper praise.
There’s no other book like “It Girl and the Atomics” on the stands. I can’t think of any other colorful superhero send-ups that celebrate the cape while subverting it a little bit that don’t do it by being extremely violent or thematically mature. Believe me, I love books like “Invincible” and “Danger Club”, but I can’t give those to someone young and show them how fun comics can be. Oddly enough, Fraction and Allred’s “FF” comes closest, but that carries Marvel history and other storylines as its baggage. And to be perfectly honest, that’s once again Allred’s artistic sensibility that is creating that tone more than anything. Fitting that I would compare that book to “It Girl”, his offspring. “It Girl” is in a class all its own when it comes to taking the superhero concept and just worrying about having fun with it, first and foremost.
A little bit about the book: It Girl’s powers involve being able to take on the properties of whatever object she touches, but that aspect of her character takes a backseat to her personality. It Girl has a dash of that Scott Pilgrim brand of flightiness mixed with a penchant for doing wacky, dangerous and adventurous things out of sheer boredom. It’s not often that comics springboard a plotline out of pure boredom of their main character, but it totally works here. What’s an It Girl to do when she’s bored out of her mind?
Why, donate her body for Dr. Flem’s infamous experimentations, of course. Why wouldn’t you? It’s at this point that writer Jamie S. Rich really takes the characters and the concept of the world and let’s them run wild. His scripts are full of little jokes that play upon the absurdities of the situations that It Girl gets herself into, chief among them a fight that gets very personal between her and a video game villain. Sometimes It Girl’s somewhat dense and bullheaded approach to her challenges provides the humor; other times it’s merely the way she says things that sound odd in that grammatically incorrect Scott Pilgrim manner.
Did I forget to mention how good Eisner-award winning artist Mike Norton is on this series? Pristine linework and a focused attention to playing up the humor make every page of “It Girl” a joy to look at. Mike Norton’s view of the “Madman” world can stand right alongside the style that made Mike Allred famous.
“It Girl and the Atomics” is something colorful that I could give to my girlfriend’s daughter when she’s old enough to read and she would absolutely fall in love with it. It’s something that longtime comic fans can sit down and use to tap back in to that “Madman” world that was such a staple of Indie comics in the 90’s. It’s something that young and old can read and smile along with, because it’s full of irreverent humor that you can laugh at because it’s absurd or silly and not feel sheepish about it.
Most of all, it’s a positive comic book in a cynical world. And every pull list could use at least one of those. “It Girl and the Atomics” is that book.