Pop rocks

Feb 2, 2000 at 12:00 am

A send-up of ‘60s-era Marvel Comics, The Atomics is Michael Allred’s version of the Fantastic Four. Six beatniks are exposed to alien spores that make them monstrous until they discover that it’s a side effect of new superpowers. Time to give crime fighting a shot, even if they just want to be popular.

With little in the way of introductions, Allred squeezes a little too much too fast to get everything in. His disjointed flashback-flash forward approach jumps right in with his splashy art style, while the reader plays catch-up.

The fledgling group does have its moments. They argue over the hipness of spelling "Atomics" with an "x," and Mr. Gum, the group’s plastic-fantastic man, becomes known as "the Booger" by school kids – and of course there’s a biff-bang fight with a giant bug monster.

But when Mr. Zap turns out to be an acne-ridden, 17­year-old alien fighting to stand up to his mom, you realize this is Allred’s Animaniacs to Marvel’s Bugs Bunny Show. There’s still lots to be cleared up, but once it’s up and running, this will probably be quite a romp. Worth staying tuned, true believers.

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