It takes a special kind of creative moxie to craft something as outrageous as Atomic Victory Squad. It’s deceptively easy to fuck up even the most juvenile spoof, but this insane comic book delivers the goods and has a blast doing it.
Atomic Victory Squad operates from a simple premise: After a cosmic bug reduces the world’s leading superheroes to charcuterie, humanity is left scrambling for new protectors. Unfortunately, its only options are the “last resort” sort. Enter the Atomic Victory Squad, a ragtag bunch of monumental screw-ups tasked with saving the world. The result? A balls-to-the-wall action-comedy brimming with scheming villains, a trigger-happy, orb-headed government guinea pig, and more puns than you can fathom. It’s the perfect antidote for quarantine blues and a damn fine demonstration of not giving a fuck (and secretly giving two).
From poking fun at on-the-nose hero names to piling on shamelessly stupid puns, the series indulges itself to the degree that lesser stories wouldn’t dare attempt. The dynamics are organic and the jokes hit with the quiet subtlety of a rampaging elephant. It all works.
But underneath all that is a surprising vulnerability. These characters are constantly teetering on the edge of complete personal destruction. There’s deep-seated sadness in these people, depression manifesting as deflection and denial. They don’t exactly deserve compassion, but they don’t deserve contempt, either. It’s fun to watch them play and it’ll be great to see the dynamics evolve (or, ya know, devolve) as the series progresses.
VERDICT: Atomic Victory Squad is a delightfully fun, hilariously irreverent satire of the superhero genre. Hand-picked by some benevolent, comic-favoring god, writer Lowell Dean and artist Javier Martin Caba have gifted us with one of the best indie comics of the past five years. It’ll absolutely blow you away.