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Review: 'It Girl and The Atomics Vol. 1' is All Style

A comic review article by: Logan Beaver

 

It's fluff. It Girl and The Atomics is light, kitschy fluff. It's hard to write about fluff. There's often not a lot to sink your teeth into, and it's hard to do so without seeming to miss the point. Then again, personally, I didn't have a problem finding things to say about Paranatural or The Trip. Maybe I should amend that sentence to say, "It's hard to write about fluff you don't either like or hate."

 

 

The characters are all charming, but it's hard to care about any of them. Actually, I originally thought that the reason I didn't care about the "surprising revelation" that the villain was her sister half way through the book was because I wasn't up on my Madman continuity, but really it was because the stakes weren't established. She was so obviously a "villain of the week." Even then, we learn in the next chapter that the villain isn't technically her sister, thus freeing the creators from having to deal with a more interesting problem. Mentioning these things in a review should feel like I'm spoiling you, but it doesn't really change anything. If you would enjoy reading It Girl, I assure you it won't be for the plot.

 

 

The characters, while not necessarily empathetic, are all very likeable. This is because the characters, dialogue and art are all in service to a poppy, retro style. The character designs all lend themselves to interesting, cartoony visuals that don't just involve punching people and shooting energy at things, and the characters themselves are quippy (albeit not funny) and ultimately friendly. Hell, even the villains are friendly. And animal themed. Actually, not just animal themed, but rodent-themed, and the hedgehog escapes the heroes (in a comic that vaguely pretends that it's about video games) by turning into a ball and rolling at them really fast. The art similarly evokes a bright, friendly, Silver Age nostalgia with its clean lines, vibrant colors and pulpy designs (the biggest examples being Dr. Flem and his laboratory). Norton's artwork seems bland and impersonal, though, especially when compared to the Chynna Clugston Flores-illustrated backmatter comic, "His Space Holiday. (It's a little unfair to compare them, though, since any character emulating Plastic Man is probably going to be the most interesting looking character in any cape book.) There's a little bit of unintentional humor, to my mind, at the beginning of the book, where Norton tries to contrast the dark, gritty video game with the poppy world of the story by making the game look more like a modern superhero comic, which only emphasizes how similar the comic is to everything else out there. 

The biggest problem with It Girl and The Atomics is that the creative team seems to only care about style, tone and the formula. It explores no theme coherently or with any power, merely inserting themes into the story because the formula demands it. You have a boring, obviously inconsequential plot. The creative team is really great at style, tone and formula. Every thing is poppy and charming, and the formula is strong. It's so strong in fact, that every time Rich and Norton fail to amuse or surprise or evoke any emotion at all, you can almost hear the crickets in the back of your mind. You know there's supposed to be something there because your brain instinctively recognizes the formula, but you don't feel anything because there isn't anything real there to elicit a reaction. The reason that It Girl Vol.1 fails as a piece of fluff is that, despite the book's retro perkiness, there's nothing genuine to support it. The book has no soul, it's just the fun, kitschy style of Madman strapped to a plot. 

 


 

 

Since moving to South Korea, Logan Beaver has written plays, comics and flash fiction (he did a lot of that before, mind you), gone on adventures and drank more on a Tuesday than is socially acceptable outside of college. He lives there with his girlfriend Collette and his laptop Pornbot 5000. He is trying to learn how to speak Korean and draw, both of which are very hard. He thinks that, by learning and doing new things, people become something better than they once were, like Pokemon. If he were a Pokemon, he would be Snorlax, though he is generally unfamiliar with Pokemon beyond the original 151. 

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