When Pink Floyd was casting about for a title to their fifth album – and specifically the opening suite to that album, which they’d been descriptively calling “Epic”- Roger Waters picked up a copy of The Evening Standard and fished the title right from the headlines, a story about a woman who had been picked to wear a nuclear-powered pacemaker. “ATOM HEART MOTHER NAMED” went the headline. The Floyd took the line, axed a word, put a cow that was either suggestively pastoral or maternal or methanic (or RANDOM) on the cover, and had another hit.
It worked very well, and had minimal radioactivity, but the nuclear pacemaker still sounds alarming; the containment of atomic power still raises suspicions; bionics are still controversial, even when they would suggest the future of medicine.
In Terry Moore’s “Echo,” the military-industrial complex is working on an atom-powered bionic suit. Naturally, things go KABOOM, and a recently-divorced photographer named Julie Martin accidentally inherits a nuclear breast-plate with some shocking properties.
Julie runs away with her magical boobs, chased by a sexily efficient government agent with the romance-ready name of Ivy Raven, and aided by a studly ranger with the equally cool name of Dillon Murphy.
Terry Moore’s jump to “Echo” was a lot like Jeff Smith’s with “RASL.” Here were two indie minds, both legends of 90’s black-and-white comics; both coming off a beloved, long-running saga (“Strangers in Paradise” and “Bone,” respectively); both trying to create a mature, realistic science-fiction. Moore’s drawings are rougher, (and the less said of his lettering the better), but he makes it up with heart – and the ability to deliver on schedule. Both men also have share the Skeptic’s bemused interest in conspiracy theories, (as opposed to the Paranoid’s hysterical obsession.)
Musings and warnings about atomic warfare, usually from the likes of Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer, are quoted at the beginning of every chapter of “Echo.” Most chilling of them is Einstein’s often paraphrased prophecy: “I do not know how the Third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth: sticks and stones.” ( A close second: “In nuclear war, all men are cremated equal.”)
Onto “Rachel Rising”!
POST-SCRIPT: Have half an hour? Want that half hour to be cosmic? Check out Pink Floyd’s “Echoes”… which sadly does not come from 1970’s “Atom Heart Mother,” but from the following year’s “Meddle.”