I never grew up reading pulpy Sci-Fi comic books as a kid; mainly because the genre was all but dead in comics during my childhood. It’s the reason that I love books like Dames in the Atomic Age because they bring that genre back into the modern age of comics. Dames is very much a throwback book, taking place in a bygone era and following a familiar formula of storytelling, but as classic as the feel is it's a great modern comic. It’s Thursday night as the narration tells us; our main character Andrew Fisch is remembering the days of his childhood in which his father would take him to the fights… every Thursday night. Fisch is a private eye these days and he's been paid to track down the wife of a very important scientist who went missing. Well he’s found her, but the problem is he’s found her sleeping with his best friend a boxer by the name of Winston. The second problem facing Fisch is the three Russian looking triplets that are also there for the woman. While Winston is in fighting his bout for the night, Fisch is doing his best to stay alive against the three to one odds. It starts to look like Fisch is coming to the end of his life when the woman he’s in charge of finding pulls out a hand cannon and blows the back off of one of the men’s heads off. The other two grab his body and scramble to leave.
After the fight Winston and Fisch drive to his office and have a long talk about the events of the night. Winston is upset because his girl almost got killed while Fisch is just happy to be alive, but more than happy to throw the circumstances of the events back in Winston's face. Once back at his office Fisch shows him the ray gun he picked off the dead man from the alleyway. He uses it to illustrate a point with Winston that he’s in over his head. The two head back to Fisch’s place to see the woman that’s caused so much drama, only to find her captured by the same three men and… her husband.
The comic has a great pacing which keeps the story moving along at rapid-fire. The parallel’s to the opening narrative and the visual are spot on and give the book a classic look and feel. The story gives you a great sense of its main character, but leaves enough out that he’s still a bit of a mystery. It’s perfect because it made me want to read more and explore the character's past. What is really great about the story is the classic Sci-Fi elements used throughout: ray guns, giant ants and so much more. It gives the book a familiar feel, but at the same time makes it very different from other comics on the market. The story has a very transparent formula to it as most Private Eye stories do, but the journey is so well crafted that the formula is only obvious by the time you get to the end.
The story may be set in a bygone era, but the art is very modern. It captures the era and the art style associated with it perfectly. The character designs all have a great throwback look, with square jaws and everyone wearing suits; making it match the setting just right. I personally found the coloring to be one of the strongest elements of the book. It single-handedly gives the book the necessary look for the story.
Dames in the Atomic Age is modern pulp at its best. It’s a hard story not to like and even harder not to enjoy. If you’re like me and missed out on crime-fiction and Sci-Fi comics at their prime then check this book out. It’s very reasonably priced and delivers a complete story that touches on love, friendship and giant ants! Funny story to go along with this, turns out that it’s made by one of my local comic shops, House of Secrets which is one of the best in the L.A. area.
Writer: Christopher Ryder Artist: Marc Sandroni Publisher: Art of Fiction Price: $8.95 Website: ArtofFiction.com