It was late last night when I caught wind of the the solicitation for Madman #12, which will introduce “Madgirl” to Snap City and the rest of the world for the first time, but I just couldn’t hit the hay without jumping back into Allred’s world again for a little while thanks to my excitement. So, I pulled the very attractive Madman and the Atomics TPB off the shelf and dove right in. I had been wanting to do so for weeks and, sleep be danged, the time was now!
This was the first opportunity I have really had to take in the wonderful production values of the hefty TPB, and it was a joy to revisit these old friends again as they jumped right off the colorful pages. The characters themselves were even richer than I remember them being the first time around and as I became lost within the story once more (reading far longer than I should have) I was struck once again at the originality, strength, and purity of the characters, particularly It-Girl.
The subject of “strong women” has been on my mind for some time now. For Mother’s Day I was asked to give a talk on the ‘examples of women in the scriptures’ and not only did it really get my mind churning as I thought about the subject and how to relay it to an audience from a male perspective, but having to do so really gave me that much more of a greater appreciation for the virtues of womanhood that can be found in Eve, Ruth, Mary or any number of the women who exercised the virtues that they had been taught — be it piety, faith, humility, repentance or…yes, strength. Well, without this turning into a sermon, for years now I’ve been inadvertently analyzing the virtues and strengths of characters in the comics that I read. I still look for heroes and they can certainly be found in both the men and women who comprise these stories. But it seems to me that too often I’m finding that for so many fans, the “strong” woman amounts to little more than a beautiful woman with attitude, a woman that stands completely on her own, a woman that wipes the floor and takes no prisoners, and a woman with little to no vulnerabilities or weaknesses…and one likely to be confident in her appearance to the utmost degree. Now don’t get me wrong, many of those traits are admirable, particularly in certain circumstances, but I also think they need to be balanced with other worthy traits of a strong woman, which include kindness, understanding, patience and the ability to overcome adversity — among other things.
Which brings me back to It-Girl, who is certainly not your typical comic heroine, yet embodies the best of the word.
Luna Romy was a young beatnik who was following in her older sisters footsteps and in so doing found herself in trouble on occasion. Eventually this culminated in a tragic accident involving an alien spore that left her and her friends horribly scarred with prominent whelps and boils all over their bodies. And having undergone such a dramatic change for the worse they felt it necessary to go underground and survive as best they could, however bitterly. Obviously it must have been a horrible experience and existence for a teenage girl to have to endure something like this, but somewhere along the way Luna gained a measure of humility. While she detested her appearance, she had seemingly come to terms with herself and to the point that she could understand the simple truth that beauty was more than skin deep. Enter Mr. Gum, and his revelation that the physical state they now suffered from was actually something more akin to a ‘pupil state’ and that it was possible to potentially alter their appearance, perhaps even become attractive in the process. They had been demonstrating supernatural abilities as of late as it was and when confronted with the possibility that they didn’t have to live under those conditions most of them jumped at the chance. Still, Luna was scared and she put it off.
Later, after some time to think, Luna is able to muster enough confidence to attempt to manipulate her cells and attempt to change her appearance for the better. She found it easier than she expected and was surprised to find that she had become a very attractive young woman. But she never lets it go to her head, she remembers what it was like to be called “ugly” and be viewed as an outcast.
And here’s the point, in adversity we can find strength and perspective. And when circumstances change for the better we can take those lessons with us and use them to become someone better than we were. Luna used her circumstances to change her, and more importantly, she didn’t let go of the lessons she learned along the way. In fact, in illustrating the point she would come to love Metal Man, one of her mutated friends, who wasn’t nearly as successful in changing his physical appearance as she had been. She had simply learned the value of looking beyond the outward appearance after her own ordeal.
Luna would come to show many of heroic traits correctly and traditionally portrayed in strong women in comics, including everything from bravery in face of death, to ingenuity, skill and in-between but she didn’t do it alone and she didn’t do it without struggle along the way — and in my mind there’s so much more to admire as a result.
And then there’s Joe!
Ah, how I love that gal!
And what did she do? Well, she merely fell in love with a re-animated corpse after finding his pure heart. She opened herself up to seeing it in the first place, and she was a sweetheart in the process. What kind of inner-strength and leap of faith must that have taken? Since, she’s faithfully stayed by his side ever since, no longer seeing the scars he bears, but instead seeing only the potential of which he’s capable.
I’m so glad she’s not gone, comics simply need more women like this.
In fact, we need more of her! Can we clone her!?
Then again, that didn’t go so well for Dr. Flem did it?
Well, that’s alright, she’s definitely one of a kind!