Review: It Girl and the Atomics #3

The first issue of “It Girl and the Atomics” got off to a slow start, despite stellar Mike Norton art and a pretty good adherence to Mike Allred’s wacky “Madman” universe. The plot has found its legs by now, but has the book hit any sort of stride yet?

Written by Jamie S. Rich
Illustrated by Mike Norton

“DARK STREETS, SNAP CITY,” Part Three The Skunk’s old gang is up to trouble, and It Girl has a few choice words for the man who killed her sister. But who’s the shadowy presence that follows her wherever she goes, and can she and the rest of the Atomics stop a crime spree before it starts?

When we last left It Girl, she was a bored superhero in a town of petty crime who had volunteered herself for one of Dr. Flem’s wacky experiments for no reason other than she had nothing better to do. Meanwhile, The Skunk, a reformed villain and nemesis from It Girl’s past, has been trying to prove himself to be on the straight and narrow. As in all good superhero stories, a true villain has finally shown his or herself, but the most enjoyment from the book has been watching the cast of minor heroes and villains come together.

Writer Jamie S. Rich has found a groove to work in with each of these characters to make them distinct and enjoyable to read. Most importantly, It Girl herself is his most specific and well-realized attempt at carrying on what Mike Allred was doing with his “Madman” stories. There’s an irreverence to her approach of being a superhero that keeps things ever light. This is a girl that wants to sit at home and play video games, because crime fighting just hasn’t been rewarding enough for her. Rich treats superheroics in this universe as something that you do because it’s something to do – not because you hold some solemn vow to uphold justice in the world. It’s a unique approach. In “It Girl”, superheroics are meant to be fun, and as a consequence, the book is fun.

On the villainous side, a lot of humor is drawn out from a band of bumbling rodent-themed crooks who are working for the big bad of the story. (Unfortunately, you’ll see the identity of the big bad coming from a mile away, but the story doesn’t live and die on that fact.) Again, each member of the gang has a unique demeanor about them, with a variety of motives and connections to our characters. It’s clear that Rich handles large casts very well.

A couple of obvious complaints on the storytelling side lie with the fact that there’s not much urgency to any of the events in the story. It’s hard to gauge how big of a threat the villains are, because no one has really treated them like a legitimate threat yet. There’s a personal connection to the heroes and villains, but again, no real sense of urgency or purpose.

Mike Norton’s art continues to be the star. His work is more angular and looser than his work on “Revival” or even “Battlepug”, but the style is still so uniquely his. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Norton seems to have mixed 80% of his own style with 20% of Allred’s. Norton is clearly having fun drawing the bounding action scenes and the exaggerated emotions of a book that wants you to have fun reading it, above all else. The brightly colored palatte of Allen Passalaqua blends the characters and the world together in such aesthetically pleasing manner. This is one of the finest looking books on the shelf, all-around.

Madman’s heyday is far behind us, but there’s a good chance that any comic fan can find something to like with “It Girl and the Atomics.” There’s not much below the surface, but I think Rich and Norton are reveling in that fact and play it up as much as possible. The books’ own demeanor matches its main character’s: taking this superhero stuff seriously would be boring.

Final Verdict: 7.9 – still worth sticking with.

About The AuthorVince OstrowskiDr. Steve Brule once called him "A typical hunk who thinks he knows everything about comics." Twitter: @VJ_Ostrowski

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