(Monkeybrain Comics, 2013)
Review by Cory Thrall
WRITTEN BY: Chris Sims & Chad Bowers
ARTWORK BY: Erica Henderson
COLOR ARTWORK BY: Erica Henderson
LETTERING BY: Josh Krach
“Subatomic Party Girls” has quite an interesting name, and is one that might turn some people away from this title before they actually look into it. Honestly, the title of this comic is one of the only things I found off-putting with this first issue, as what you’ll find inside is some awesome and lively comic work – fun for fans of rock ‘n’ roll, space adventures, aliens, and classic characters. Luckily, this comic has it all wrapped up nice and tight, in an opening issue that tickles and amazes you with its action-packed story and overall attitude.
The story centers on a band – the GREATEST ROCK ‘N’ ROLL BAND ON EARTH (as the opening text assures us) – called Beryllium Steel, and we meet the members of this Power Trio right away. There’s Cleo, the Lead Vocalist and Lead Keytar player, Libby, the band’s Bass and Rhythm Guitar, and their gloomy Drummer named Vette. They are so popular that they are set to be the first band to play a show on the surface of the Moon. This trip sends them on what might be a bigger adventure, and possibly way more than they bargained for. After four short days of a sped-up version of Astronaut Training, the band masters rocking out in Zero G, gets suited up, and are quickly in the rocketship. The rocketship itself sports a brilliantly classic design and hints of old school space adventures like Flash Gordon, or the original Buck Rogers.
Just as they are set to launch, a shadowed hand is seen placing some form of device under one of the racks of equipment – one adorned with the always dangerous skull & crossbones icon. As the three bandmates inside the rocket show their feelings towards the trip – a lot of excitement, pure giddiness, and a hard splash of anxiety from Vette, the rocket blasts off the pad and heads screaming for outer space. That’s when a key is hit on a handheld device, causing the hidden tech under the electronics to somehow set the ship off-course. Dr. Alphonse Sabotage (the “reformed mad scientist” in charge of the project, as well as the controller of the ship) flips out, yelling about how the ship could have shot off to anywhere, using smashing into the surface of a star at a thousand times the speed of light as an example. He explains that they have no way to communicate with the ship, nor they to them, and the band is now out there with no Guidance System and a tank full of fuel. From here the story begins and the adventure takes its first jumps in furthering the legend of Beryllium Steel, now possibly leading them towards the title of the Greatest Rock ‘N’ Roll band in the galaxy! Throw in some aliens, some trips across the universe, and a Holy Prophesy that hints Bob Segar and his Silver Bullet Band may have one day traveled in space, and you’ve got just the right mix of goofy and inspired storytelling.
What had me going on this title right out of the gate is the wonderful artwork by Erica Henderson, whose simple yet highly effective line is highlighted by her brightly beautiful use of coloring. The color artwork is snappy, quirky and full. It just looks really great. The individual characters are uniquely and distinctly drawn, and are such individuals in many ways that it’s almost like this was issue #2. You’re just sucked into their world so quickly and completely, and I really think the artwork is a strong reason for this. Henderson’s stuff reminds me of artists like Matt Wagner, Mike Allred, or even early ‘Hectic Planet’-era Evan Dorkin. Mix these geniuses together, soften their use of detail, and you’ve Henderson’s visual world down, for the most part. Her work is definitely all her own, and I draw these comparisons as example of the type of company her style keeps.
This first issue is rather quick and not heavy on non-visual content, so I can’t really say too much about the work of co-writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers. The characters are definitely solid. Their different personalities and the way they intermingle reminds me of bands I’ve been in over the years. There’s a strong familial bond within a group that works together well, but it’s more of a sibling type – where snickers and poking fun is the way love and friendship is exhibited. These moments are captured in a way I’ve not really seen in other comics that might be similar to this, and I found the band dynamics excellently fleshed out. The rest of the cast outside of the band are just as unique and distinct, and through both visual and written storytelling we get a good idea as to the motives and actions behind them and how it affects the career of the band and the eventual launching of the rocketship.
I read a lot of different material when it comes to genre, so I tend to find things I like across the spectrum. Having said that, this is a comic you don’t want to skip, regardless of what you might otherwise read. It definitely has its own thing going for it with a strong attitude and a fighting spirit smashing through an intergalactic adventure story – one that has only just begun. For the regular price of most comics you could buy 4 issues of titles from Monkeybrain Comics, thanks to their online releases being available online for 99 cents each. If you’re into digital only comics or are interested in how it all works, this should be the first on your list to purchase. It’s spunky and snappy and just the right thing for the beginning of summer. Because, what is the true magic of Summer? Adventure, of course! So, pick this up and get yourself into outer space to rock out with the GREATEST ROCK ‘N’ ROLL BAND IN THE UNIVERSE! A whole other world awaits you.
Follow Cory Thrall on Twitter: @FeralFang27