Cold Cut Distribution's Feature Spotlight #43 - July/August 2000


The Atomics

Publisher: AAA Pop Comics
Writer & Artist: Mike Allred
Colors: Laura Allred
Cover Price:$2.95
Format:24 full-color pages
Frequency:Monthly
Issues Available:7

Storyline:

When six street beatniks are mutated by an alien spore, they become... mutant street beatniks, of course! As they gradually manage to overcome their feelings of angst and isolation to team up, they soon begin to find that their mutations have given them superhuman powers. But their newfound camaraderie is immediately put to the test when a strange teenage boy wearing a space-age suit appears out of thin air and runs right into them, soon followed by a monstrous being intent on catching the boy. After the team of mutant friends help the newcomer resolve this little interdimensional problem, he joins their team as "Zapman", and "The Atomics" are born! With a little help from Madman himself, they build a secret underground lair and begin preparing for their new life and adventures.

Writing Review:

Mike Allred takes some supporting characters from his popular Madman series (the "mutant street beatniks") and spins them off into a series of their own, venturing into monthly color self-publishing to do it!

The first four-issue story arc is structured in an unusual way, starting with the climax (with the alien teenager fighting the monstrous alien) with little explanation, then doing flashbacks to present how the characters got there, and the basic origins of the Atomics. It's an unusual approach, but fairly effective for readers who picked up the first issue - Mike tries to hit you with a slambang fight scene starring Madman and the Atomics right up front, then slows down to explain where they came from.

After the first four issues, The Atomics is settling into a series of single-issue stories just right for grabbing the curious new reader without turning them off with long continuing stories. Issue 5 deals with the Atomics building themselves a headquarters, and issue 6 gives the origin of Zapman, the alien teen, as told in flashback form.

The general tone and tenor of the writing is reminiscent of Silver Age Stan Lee, intentionally I'm sure. The Atomics reminds one most of the original X-Men or of the early Doom Patrol - a group of mutant outcasts banding together to fight bad guys despite being ignored or even shunned by society. Simple yet effective plots, straightforward dialogue, and themes of cooperation in the face of adversity combine to great effect in this throwback to the Silver Age.

[ panels from Atomics ]
Art ©2000 by Mike Allred

Art Review:

As you can tell by the samples scanned here, Mike has started with his well-known clean art style and taken it one step further, bringing back the days of Silver Age Marvel with his Kirby-esque character designs (from the heroes to the monsters) and Stan Lee-inspired storytelling sense ("The World's Grooviest Comic Magazine!" proclaims the cover). Madman's constant guest appearances look almost out of place, as his 80's look nearly jolts you out of the 60's feel of the rest of the book. Laura Allred's bold, flat colors are intentionally reminiscent of the halcyon days of four-color printing. With straightforward panel layouts and distinctive characters, The Atomics is a sixties comics time-capsule for the new millennium.

Audience:

Mike has cleverly created two "instant audiences" for the Atomics: all the many fans of Madman (and his other works like Red Rocket 7) will love The Atomics since it not only brings much of his same offbeat superheroic sensibilities to the table, but also every issue so far has featured Madman in a guest appearance. Also, older fans who fondly remember the classic days of early Marvel will enjoy this loving tribute to their childhood favorites. The Atomics will also appeal to fans of alternative superheroics such as the entire ABC line (Tomorrow Stories, Tom Strong, etc), Pantheon, and Threshold, as well as to fans of hip comics like Spyboy, Sugar Kat, and Rex Hellwig.

If you like Atomics, take a look at:


Cold Cut Distribution
220 N Main St. - Salinas, CA 93901 - (831) 751-7300


[ Return To Reviews Index ] [ E-Mail The Webmaster ] [ Return To Cold Cut Home Page ]