My older daughter recently had to have emergency surgery for an appendicitis, and our medical insurance is through a different state (because my wife works for a certain medical university that bought her formerly hometown eye clinic) which meant several freeway drives to and from the hospital. Anyway, she’s better now, and on the way home from a post-op appointment to see how her surgery wounds were healing, we stopped at her favorite comic store, I Like Comics, in downtown Vancouver, WA. While we were there, to “say thanks” for all the driving, she bought me two books. This is the first one:
Allred, Bone, Clugston-Major, Marvit, and Ontiveros – The Atomics: Spaced Out & Grounded in Snap City! (2003)
This is a collection of four basically unconnected, or very loosely connected, stories, all written by Mike Allred, but illustrated by different artists: J. Bone, Chynna Clugston-Major, Lawrence Marvit (with Mike Allred), and Martin Ontiveros. Two of the stories were straight up, Saturday morning matinee, serial space operas, along the lines of Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, or Commander Cody. One was a Plastic Man type story, and the last was a teen-romance / superheroes in a band type of thing.
I’ve been a fan of Allred for a long, LONG time, since I found an issue of Graphique Musique in a 50 cent bin at a comic show in Portland, OR, back when my younger daughter was still in a stroller. (She’s 19 now.) Allred’s storytelling is always quirky and fun, and this book was definitely both of those. However, the non-space opera tales felt a bit like I was dropped into the middle of some continuing situations that required prior knowledge to fully understand. I know that The Atomics was a regular series in the early 2000s, but I have only read a couple of issues WAY BACK THEN—and apparently not enough to remember who-was-who or what-was-what. With that one complaint, the book is fun. The slam-bam space adventures were enough to keep me interested, and the art was solid throughout. Might be something that fans of The Atomics series get more out of than I did, but it was still worth the read!
—Richard F. Yates