Atom Bug is a ten issue mini series written and drawn by Michael V. Mauro. The series chronicles the surviving indigenous peoples of the “Proton planet” who are battling for their continued existence against powerful alien invaders. The battle between these two factions culminated with an invasion by the “otherworlders” who exterminated most of the native population with a deadly toxin. Those who survived the toxin did so by retreating underground until the toxin dissipated from the air. The Atom Bug mini-series focuses on these survivors; the protagonist, Atom Bug, his loyal friend Chop Chop and the self proclaimed “brains of the team” Gorp. Together they head a rag-tag rebellion who use guerrilla tactics to prevent the complete extinction of their species with hopes that they’ll one day reclaim their home world.
The story begins with what appears to be a meteorite crashing into in the micro planet, known as Proton Planet. In actuality, the meteorite is an alien vessel called the Colossus Pod Six. Once it lands and determines that the planet has hospitable conditions, it begins to terraform the planet with what is only known as the “Kranotex Terraforming Agent.” It then issues an edict to exterminate any life on the planet. These “otherworlders” are lead by a mysterious man known as King Asterix. He’s so mysterious that his face has yet to be revealed, a la Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget. In addition to having an army at his disposal, he also has a gigantic battle cruiser, the Echelon Imperator, at his command.
Perhaps its the anthropomorphized characters but there’s something about Atom Bug which reminds me of Sonic the Hedgehog. Atom Bug himself is hot headed and a bit cocky, not unlike Sonic, while Chop Chop somewhat physically resembles Sonic due to the quills on his head. Chop Chop’s built-in brass knuckles also remind me of Knuckles the Echidna, whether that was intentional or not. That said, before you go handing Atom Bug off to your kid, keep in mind that in issue two Atom Bug rips the head off of one of his adversaries. It’s not exactly graphic but something to keep in mind for potential readers.
While the cover art is splashed with bright, vibrant colors, the interior art is black and white, giving the comic a bit of a bleak feel to it. The best part about the art, for me at least, is the emotion conveyed by the characters, namely Atom Bug himself. The first issue is a little heavy on exposition but it’s necessary to give you the background of the series. Overall, if you’re looking for an indie comic to support and you’re into black and white, good vs evil stories then I’d recommend giving Atom Bug a chance. You can find the first 6 issues of Atom Bug on MichaelVMauro.com as well as Cloud 9 Comix.