By: Too many to list—check out the review.
The Story: Robotman is steaming! G-Man takes out the trash! Tanga kills puppies!
The Review: And with that, we come to the end of this grand, though ultimately unsuccessful, experiment in showcase comics. In a more patient, less expensive decade, perhaps this kind of series would have found greater support, but now, it feels like a half-charming, half-exasperating novelty from a bygone era. While “Garbage Man” concludes, rather optimistically, “The end for now,” I think the feature’s partners are more prudent in their use of the more final, “The end.”
Matt Kindt clearly had a lot of ideas for where to take Robotman, but the limitations of his format forces him to squeeze as many of them together as possible, making for a much less unified storyline. He spent so much of the previous issues playing out Robotman’s inability to engage in human feeling that this sudden fixation on Cliff’s mechanical body not allowing him to harm another human comes a bit out of the blue. Still, this conflict proves that at the very least, Cliff retains a potential for outrage and bitterness that is certainly not very robotic. Kindt also tries once more to develop the relationship between Maddy and Cliff, but is ultimately hampered by our hero’s affected coldness towards her, and the fact that they don’t have much natural chemistry between them anyway. Scott Kolins continues to do his best work on this feature, so long as he avoids any scenes that require genuine emotion, where he can only make some passable melodrama. As for Mike Atiyeh, let’s hope he brings the same vibrancy to his future work as he’s done for this one all along.
By this point, I must confess I review “Garbage Man” simply because I must. Aaron Lopresti hasn’t written a terrible story, but he has written a terribly bland one. Everything, from the legal drama to the conception of the protagonist himself, feels like something drawn off from another, better-crafted piece of work, then cobbled together into this merely functional tale. For the last time, we watch the cast go through the motions of interacting with each other and projecting personality, only to come off more mechanical than Robotman claims to be: “I’m not to be trusted. Nor am I interested in your foolish bravado.” In the end, the best thing you really got out of this feature was Lopresti’s art, Matt Ryan’s inks, and John Kalisz’s colors.
Even “Tanga” ends a bit anticlimactically, but it happens to work since Kevin Maguire has put in his dues on this story since Weird Worlds. A quick win for Tanga against the mastermind behind all the troubles in her life, especially when it’s so well-motivated (“You had me taking down puppies?” she demands with a rather deadly expression), doesn’t feel out of place. And if we had closed the issue on that, along with Tanga, Bent, Korghan, and Berilidos celebrating her triumph with a pint of Bruk at the pub, then this would have been a satisfying conclusion indeed. Alas, Maguire chooses instead to hit us with the reality stick. The lies sown by Za and Co. prove too deep to be removed from the minds of the simple dough-people Tanga has so much concern for. Her friends, though loyal enough to wait for her return, express reluctance to be seen with her. And ultimately, the unpredictable nature of Tanga’s powers, combined with her own damaging impulses (as seen all the way in Weird Worlds #1), leads to her own undoing, and she finds herself back where she started: alone, searching for a place to go. It’s a bittersweet, but fitting place to leave our heroine. I’ll truly miss her.
Conclusion: I can’t say with much honesty that it’s been all fun, but we’ve had some good moments during this run, and at least a couple gems have come out of it, so let’s just accentuate the positive for now and be relieved we won’t have to deal with this uneven mess again.
Some Musings: – Lopresti can use a lesson from Justice League #5—you do no favors for your characters (i.e. Sam) when you give them only six lines in an entire issue, none of them longer than six words.