Madman Atomic Comics #1, April 2007, Image Comics
writer/artist: Mike Allred
colorist: Laura Allred
letterer: Nate Piekos
If you went to your local comic book shop last Wednesday, you undoubtedly noticed Madman Atomic Comics #1. It's hard to ignore Mike Allred's psychedelic cover, depicting his pupil-less yet wide-eyed hero leaping from a purple-shrouded background of spiny tentacles. The picture is eerie and intriguing, and with that "number one" below the characteristic Image logo, I couldn't resist Allred's relaunch. Frankly, I've avoided Madman in the past; like the chick from high school you automatically dub out of your league, I thought Allred's work looked too good for me to understand. I wasn't sure if Madman's series (and I think he's had three of them) were mired in continuity or episodic for the sake of a burgeoning audience, but either way I was strangely intimidated by how much fun they looked. I don't know if I can really describe the phenomenon, but needless to say, I'm over it.
Fortunately for oblivious new readers like me, Madman is rediscovering who he is, so by picking up this issue I may be on the groundfloor of some new chapter in his life. From page one, Madman is trapped in a frozen world, "Not icy frozen," he succinctly explains, "Completely still frozen." While the general populace appear to be rapidly decaying, an orbital drone with whom Madman is familiar (and that is named Warren) arrives and almost annoying prods the desperate hero to recount his origins. In fact, most of this issue is one long flashback, which I presume would be annoying for long-time Mad-fans, yet freshly entertaining for newbies like me. I'd rather not summarize this summary again, if only to mention that I didn't know Madman was essentially a modern Frankenstein. The sheer vastness of his adventures, as explained by Warren, indicates that Madman may be one of the apocalyptic four horsemen, perhaps the horseman of death, as he is a living defiance of the reaper's blade. Allred definitely leaves the door open for some ethereal mayhem, to be sure.
Yet, as my original impression led me to believe, it's Allred's artistic style that truly captures the imagination, capturing the essence of many genres in the context of this encapsulating escapade, from space to cityscapes to the complexities of the searching mind. This issue is just a trip. I'm definitely on board for the ride. Well, whether or not Madman finds himself in subsequent issues, I finally did, and in this context, that's all that matters!
Side note: Check out The Engine, Warren Ellis' message board, where I've posted an illustration for his "Remake/Remodel" thread, a weekly challenge to re-imagine well known characters. Last week, Witchblade, this week, Sherlock Holmes. I dig it.
Also, a plug for my current events blog The Tumblr Grumblr. Threw a thought about some shiny nappy people up there that might cock an eyebrow.