By: Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (art), Ronda Pattison (colors), Jeff Powell (letters) & Lee Black (edits)
The Story: Atomic Robo has to rescue stranded astronauts.
What’s Good: It’s just nice to have Robo back. Atomic Robo follows the Hellboy publication practice where there is a miniseries that runs for ~6 issues and then Robo goes away for a few months. I sure do miss the guy when he is gone because Robo is unlike any other comic I read– and I read a pretty diverse lot. No other comic quite captures the feeling of fun/science/banter/adventure/amazement that you get from Robo. And it gets all of that without ever having a downer moment. Robo is kinda like that person we all know who never has anything negative to say about anyone.
The humor is what really sets Robo apart. For example, we open on a scene of Robo chatting on the phone with someone, complaining about the design of the iPad (his mechanical fingers don’t work nicely with it) and he says, “So, this is another thing where your faulty design is actually everyone else holding it wrong?” (of course referencing the iPhone 4 antennae snafu). Then he is called away and as he says good-bye, we realize he was talking to Steve Jobs. LOL!
And, it’s always so nicely delivered. You could take Robo’s words and make them pissy as hell, but because they’re delivered by this lovable and slightly naive robot who is ~100 years old who is simultaneously an action hero and scientist, he just comes off as more earnest than the rest of us. Robo is never mean and malicious because he doesn’t have to be: he’s superpowered, smart and basically immortal. He’s kinda like what Doc Savage would be like if he never became aloof and cynical.
The story in this sequence is modern day (as opposed to last arc which was set in the past) and features Robo and his team swinging into action to save stranded astronauts when their spacecraft malfunctions. It’s just fun to watch Robo running this group of people who are rattling off whacky rocketry ideas for how to save the astronauts and I really can’t wait to read the rest of the series. How can Robo in space be bad?
A lot of the credit for the series goes to how Scott Wegener draws Robo. His style is basically cartoony and a less-is-more approach, but the amount of emotion he can get out of Robo by varying his posture and eyelids is pretty amazing. You look at every panel and can see that Robo is “striding purposefully” or “having a deep thought” or “persuading someone”. I’d much rather see this type of art than some B-grade, Alex Ross wanna-be who does stiff characters. This is a case where the art is the story, not merely a canvas to paste some word balloons onto.
What’s Not So Good: Nothing really. I mean, Atomic Robo isn’t the best comic on the stands or anything, but it succeeds really well at what it is trying to do. Probably the only thing that holds this comic back from the highest levels is that it never goes for a really emotional reaction, but I don’t think the creators want it to be that kind of comic.
Conclusion: If you’re not reading Atomic Robo, you’re doing it wrong. Every comic fan should find a place in their pull list for this little gem because it brings you a sense of fun and amazement that is very rare in comics.
– Dean Stell
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