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Madman Atomic Comics #14

Posted: Saturday, March 7, 2009
By: Ray Tate

Mike Allred and J. Bone
Mike Allred and Darwyn Cooke with Laura Allred (colors)
Image Comics
"Running Up That Hill!" and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Madman Movie!"

The first story picks off where we left off. Joe's enjoying her resurrection and freedom from Luna. Luna's enjoying the resurrection of Adam, and Madman's enjoying his reunion with Joe. Madman and the Atomics are off camping. An offscreen marshmallow mishap forces Joe to make a sacrifice, of hair that is. Don't worry, the Allreds aren't about to muck up the beauteous Joe. Her new do is indeed "ginchy."

Joe and Frank take a literal hike up a hillock, and Joe shows off her gymnastic skills, only to be taken down by surprise. This actually foreshadows the problem Frank will face. Nursing her sore dignity, she leaves Frank continue alone. At the top, Frank gets in touch with inner child. Then, something shocking happens.

After all the trouble that Frank faced largely sans any real super-powers, it's surprising to see an ironic twist being such a deadly dilemma. When you think about the irony, you realize that it's fitting that Frank should be stopped that way. It's a reminder of his mortality and of a callous reality that's contrasted by the surreal nature of Madman. Fortunately, there's a happy ending thanks to a little help from his friends.

I had to read the second tale twice in order to comprehend exactly what was going on. The zany artwork by Darwyn Cooke was funny from the get-go, but the plot was tricky. Frank's kidnapped by green-suited extras from a movie production, possibly in another dimension. It appears that they are making a movie about Madman, but here's the thing. The lead is brick-jawed Adonis from the neck up. The rest of him is a paunchy fellow that comes up to Frank's knee. The special effects people intend to CGI brick-jaw to Frank's body, and they've given brick-jaw a suit that controls Frank's Hollywood provided costume.

The first tale is a less absurd and anarchic than others have been, but the rare realism is beneficial and gives the story impact. The second short is a Tylenol moment waiting to happen. It reminds me of Bob Clampett's mind-blowing "Porky in Wackyland." It's a free-wheeling Kitchen Sink effort that's astoundingly goofy. I think I liked it.



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