Writer: Michael Allred
Artist: Michale Allred, Laura Allred (colors)
Publisher: Image Comics
“We are Atomic!”
As a big fan of Mike Allred and Madman, I am pained to say I was somewhat disappointed by this issue. Here, Allred continues his epic, long-teased “Madman in Space” story, but this installment is focused mostly on getting his other creations, The Atomics, involved. So this means Madman (a.k.a. Frank Einstein), having learned between issues what he is supposed to be doing on his big space quest (not to be confused with Roger Wilco’s various Space Quests), contacts his teammates telepathically, lets them know he’s still alive, and uses cosmic powers to transport them to wherever he is. It seems too easy, and it kind of cheapens and deflates the tension that had built about the others thinking Frank is dead. Maybe Allred couldn’t bear to have his characters be in pain.
Also a little bit cheap: the revelation of the identities of “The Four,” a long-running mystery in the various Madman series. It turns out the other three members (we had known Frank was one of The Four for quite a long time) are some of The Atomics, characters that were created well after the original idea of Frank’s destiny was introduced (well, actually, they were around as the Mutant Street Beatniks before they became The Atomics, but I doubt Allred had been planning to make them part of this plot back then). So it seems like Allred is shoehorning his favored creations into this plot just so he can have them along for the ride. I’m sure he will show the reason these specific characters are important, but it seems awkward and forced right now.
And speaking of awkward and forced, the lengthy exposition gets tiresome this issue. It’s kind of unavoidable when characters get whisked away to space to fight a cosmic menace; they and the readers have to learn what exactly they are fighting and why. But it still means we get pages with lots of text about destiny and prophecy and the end of the universe. At least Allred makes it interesting, with bright colors and characters climbing on the hand of the image Frank is projecting of himself.
Really, the art is the redeeming quality of the issue; even if I’m not enamored of this issue’s clunky writing, I always have something pretty to look at. Allred continues with his large spreads of wacky, cosmic imagery, and later on the group encounters some delightfully weird aliens. There’s also a nice change to one of The Atomics, a character named Black Crystal (in classic comics fashion, he gets his name from his race, not the color of his crystals), who gets partially dissolved by a gas and becomes skinny and gangly, emphasizing his fragile, breakable structure. Laura Allred’s colors are beautiful, as always, really making the imagery seem to come alive. And there’s a bit of fun, exciting action that redeems the drudgery, including a bit in which two shape-shifting characters merge to form a bulldozer. Hey, why not?
So while it’s not the best issue, it’s still a decent Madman outing, and it sets up what is sure to be a huge cosmic battle that will change Madman’s world forever. Or maybe not, but at least it will be fun to read and beautiful to behold. I can’t wait to read it.
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