Have you ever wondered what the love child of Josie and the Pussycats and Flash Gordon would look like? Really? Never? Not even once? Fine, but I’m gonna tell you anyway that such a thing exists and it’s called Subatomic Party Girls! The brainchild of writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers and artist Erica Henderson, Subatomic Party Girls combines the adventurous spirit of science fiction with the head-banging energy of rock and roll!
Meet the ladies of pop/rock trio Beryllium Steel: Cleo, Libby, and Vette. Not content with taking the world by storm with their killer riffs and memorable lyrics, the girls are ready to blast themselves into space as the first band to play in zero-gravity. Unfortunately, their manager has different plans as she tries to ensure their journey into the inky darkness of space for publicity becomes a permanent vacation. Stranded in the outer regions of space, the girls encounter a group of space pirates (like regular pirates, but in space) led by Alassen, a cat-woman alien. While the girls waste no time defending themselves, when they use their instruments as weapons, one of the pirates believes them to be religious prophets. Seems that back in the 80s, a probe from Earth went missing containing a time capsule of ephemera and memorabilia as a welcome mat for aliens to ensure them that Earth was friendly. Contained within the probe was a cassette of Bob Seger’s music. Cut to 20 years later and the Silver Bullet Band are religious icons, in space. The ladies are taken to Boss Drixly and perform a cover of one of Seger’s songs only to find out that their epic performance could be their last. From there it’s part prison break, part heist as the girls attempt to find their way home.
From the get-go, Subatomic Party Girls (I love that pun, by the way) is brash, unapologetic fun. Part of that fun stems from the lead characters. Sims and Bowers instantly make the trio likeable yet distinct personalities that make up a band I’m actually curious to hear music from. Cleo’s the optimistic adventurer, Libby’s the thoughtful, conscientious one, and Vette’s the hot-headed realist. They play off each other well and you never feel like one character is dead weight against the others. It’s an all-female cast but nary a damsel among them. In fact, the girls seem to take most of their predicament in stride save for a few moments of panic and/or in-fighting. But that only enhances the fun of reading the first three issues. There’s also a wicked streak of humor running through the book that’s universally appealing. Not only is the book situationally hilarious, but there are plenty of references to pick through as the writers cash in on science fiction tropes and rock history.
The other part of the fun comes from the setting itself. By hurdling our heroines into deep space, Sims and Bowers have the freedom to go as over-the-top as they want. There’s a Pegasus – I mean Gregasus – for crying out loud! Flying horse-alien. In space. Being ridden by three rock-and-roll badasses. What more do you want? Thankfully they have Erica Henderson to provide the fast-paced, energetic art and colors required to bring their vision to life. Henderson’s illustrations bring to mind not just female-centric books like Bandette and Amelia Cole, but also animated shows like Powerpuff Girls. Issue #2’s series of sci-fi inspired outfits was a particular favorite of mine not just because it’s the equivalent of a comic book montage, but I imagine Henderson had to have a lot of fun coming up with the designs. It’s colorful, bright and full of sass. The perfect counterpoint to all of the dark and dour books generally being churned out.
Rating – 10/10
Final Thoughts: Praise be unto the See-Gar! Hear the prophecy of the Silver Bullet!