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Madman Atomic Comics #1
posted April 6, 2007
Michael Allred, Laura Allred
Image Comics, comic book, 28 pages, April 2007, $2.99
The high moment of the first Image issue of Mike Allred's long-running quirky superhero title Madman
finds the superhero on his knees, surrounded by characters some of whom I recognize as being guest-stars in previous adventures created by other artists, shouting "Who am I? What am I? What's happening?! Am I insane?!" This is exactly the feeling I had while reading the comic, a long slog through Madman's not always linear or coherent solo-title narrative of previous years and various team-ups along the way in an attempt, I'm guessing, to re-orient and re-launch the title. Unless some of the fairly standard hinted-at plot points and pointing out of discrepancies bring with them massively entertaining pay-offs in a future issues, I can't imagine that we wouldn't have been better off skipping ahead to something a bit more active, more entertaining, and closer to the stories that Allred seems better suited to tell.
I don't dislike the core Madman concept, and Allred's art is always going to have that cartoon-version of Alex Toth feel that's fun to pick up and look over, but the weakness in his various comics has always seemed to express itself in two basic ways: 1) the Madman character and his girlfriend Joe are in too many ways the idealized versions of the book's creators to provide depth and drama, and 2) there aren't a whole lot of stories out there likely to use such a lead to positive effect. That could change with this book, you never know, but while Madman once seemed ahead of its time as a superhero suited to telling its origin in movie form and, well, that's it; those restrictions now seem like a severe hurdle. In other words, it feels like in terms of comics narrative we've pushed past Madman
the movie, past the sequels, past the animated movie, and we're now doing the live-action syndicated TV show that appears on Saturday afternoons after the baseball game. Do we really need any more Madman than we already have?