Atomic Fist Punch

Comic: Atomic Fist Punch
Creator: Drew Maxwell
Genre: Action, Sci-fi, Comedy
Schedule: Weekly
Rating: 4.5

Commonly, the term G-rated is synonymous with "made for children". Although this association is not necessarily bad, there is a widespread perception that such works lack substance or quality. It's relatively rare nowadays to come across a G-rated film that isn't made specifically for young children. The same goes for webcomics, which is somewhat understandable given the uncensored nature of the internet. Family-friendly webcomics are not the norm, but a handful do exist. The best of them manage to be sensitive to young readers while having the complexity and creativity more mature readers crave. Action/sci-fi series Atomic Fist Punch is one of those golden few.

The best way to describe the website itself would be conscientious. In addition to being aware of young viewers, the creator also gives consideration to readers using mobile devices. Atomic Fist Punch is optimized for tablets and phones but still reads well on laptops and home computers. Instead of loading page after page, each chapter simply scrolls all the way through in one long page. The dimensions are restricted so that mobile devices can see the entire width of the pages at once. The site also has a number of extras, such as a YouTube trailer, a characters page, and a currently in-development game for iPad users. The website's only shortcoming is that it's impossible to search for or link to a specific page due to the scroll-down format. The navigation bar is also cluttered and needs a little better organization.

The story centers around a brother and sister duo trying to save their father and working together to fight evil robots. The sister is the brains of the operation, making gadgets and operating as mission control, while the brother takes a more hands-on approach. That's "hands-on" in the most literal sense--he fights using atomic gauntlets that increase the force of his punches exponentially. Five chapters in already, the comic features plenty of fights and the beginnings of a massive-scale robots vs. humans conflict.

The character interactions are charming. The siblings get along well, but still have clear differences in their personalities that reflect their roles. The sister is the more level-headed one, while the brother is excitable and impulsive. A third character, a non-evil robot, also directly aids the brother on the battlefield. There's a mild rivalry between the two that adds a little humor to the actions scenes and the action itself is a treat to watch. It's dynamic and fast-paced with corny one-liners that manage to escape being groan-worthy just because they fit the personality of the boy delivering them so well. On top of that, the story is engrossing. Each chapter ends on a cliffhanger with new developments constantly rising. The only thing about the storytelling that falls short is the pacing with some of the jokes. Many otherwise humorous moments are delivered too quickly to sink in. Although the fast pace works wonderfully in action scenes, the jokes would be better if given a bit of a lull in delivery by using a beat panel between the setup and punchline.

The art is deeply atmospheric with vibes of spookiness and all things technology. The machines and gadgets are particularly intricate. In addition to gorgeously-rendered details, the backgrounds feature a subtle paint-splatter effect, which adds a hint texture and spontaneity. This is especially effective in action scenes, where other dramatic effects like silhouette, speed lines, abstract backgrounds, and Kirby Dots are used frequently. Adding to the mood are the lighting and special effects. Though the visuals have a generally dark, gritty ambiance, it is offset with vibrant splashes of bright yellows, reds, and eerie greens. Also top-notch are the character designs, both human and robot. The humans are simple and stylized. Their features emphasize and exaggerate curves, making the movements extra-fluid and cartoony. The robots, on the other hand, are generously illustrated with seams, bolts, wires, and zig-zagging shadows to accentuate their metallic surface. Rounding out the art style is the use of hatching and hard edged-shadow to add depth and texture to everything from fabric to concrete.

Impressively, with all this excitement, everything in this comic is still suitable for children. The violence is mitigated by virtue of the enemies being robots. The kid hero can shatter them with his bare hands, spraying nuts and bolts all over the place, but that's nothing that a little kid couldn't safely read. It's a very clever choice, allowing for dynamic fights without graphic violence. That's not to say the story takes no risks at all, though. While the action is kept tame by battling mechanical beings, the characters face emotional danger, a concept older audiences can appreciate. The latest development confronts some of the vulnerability of a kid hero, an issue not often explored even in works aimed toward the more mature crowd. Thoughtful touches like that help maintain the comic's wide age range while giving it a certain weight and intelligence to broaden its appeal.

Although G-rated is usually thought of as being for children, the literal meaning is "for a general audience". That is precisely what Atomic Fist Punch is. By side-stepping explicit material, it allows young readers to enjoy it, but it's strong enough in storytelling and artistry that older readers will find something to like as well. Readers looking for a dose of classy sci-fi action can't go wrong with this one.


  1. Wow! What an insightful, on so many levels, and well written review!!!

  2. I've been following Atomic Fist Punch for sometime now and can say that my kid loves it for the robots, the action and the humor. I love it for the reasons this review so smartly describes -- the little aspects of the art, the emotional complexity (Darth-Vader Syndrome!) and the quickly interplay between characters! I was hooked from the gothic house on the first page!