Twenty-five years had passed since the debut of Sputnik Chick #1. And never once during that time did creator Debbie Reynolds Biondi ever consider giving “The Girl With No Past” an origin story.
But it was finally time to put brush to Bristol board. Debbie’s publisher and her “spunkie” fans demanded it. “Sputnik Chick just shows up out of nowhere in New York City in 1979,” complained one long-time fan. “Where did she come from? Even if her past was obliterated, she still has one, right?”
Sputnik Chick did in fact have a past. And not surprisingly, the events leading up to Sputnik Chick #1 were similar to Debbie’s own personal origin story. “Not that anyone would believe it,” she said.
You see, Debbie was originally from an alternate dimension created when Robert Oppenheimer split the atom back in 1945. But this newly created splintered reality was doomed from the very beginning. To save humanity, Debbie had to collapse time and migrate the entire population of Earth into a single timeline.
The only way Debbie felt comfortable telling her story was via her superhero avatar. For her, comic books were a place to work out painful family stories. A way to deal with a horrific legacy in a way that she could manage. “It was a way for me to turn fantasy into truth,” she said.
Sputnik’s Children is a fractured biography of Debbie and Sputnik Chick (and probably author Terri Favro too) told through a Silver Surfer filter. It’s a dizzying ride through the time-space continuum held together by comic books and quantum mechanics.
But you don’t have to be a whiz at physics to enjoy Favro’s book. You don’t even have to know about superposition and Erwin Schrödinger. Believe us, you’ll be turning pages faster than Space Shuttle Challenger in freefall. And if you read novels with a pen in your hand (like us), you’ll be underlining funny and clever passages throughout the book.
Debbie’s love of superheroes helped her escape Atomic Mean Time and rescue Earth Standard Time. “Comic book time wasn’t so much fluid as rubbery, bouncing back and forth, up and down, like a superball. Do-overs were common: you could literally start a superhero’s life again in a different time, place, or dimension.” Ultimately, that’s what Debbie was doing. She was reinventing herself over and over again until she got it right.
Sputnik Chick’s origin story turned out to be a revenge tragedy filled with jealousy, betrayal, and conflicted emotions. “Just like real life,” said Debbie at the end of the novel. And just like the Silver Surfer’s journey to Earth, it was a sad tale filled with heartbreak, sacrifice, loneliness, and lost opportunities.
[Sputnik’s Children / By Terri Favro / First Printing: April 2017 / ISBN: 9781770413412]