Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Super-Powered Comics: Atomic Robo

It isn’t too easy to quantify what exactly makes Atomic Robo one of the most entertaining titles on the market today. The book comes from a comic publishing company made up of a bunch of upstart Star Wars fans/creators Red 5 (the name itself comes from Luke Skywalker’s call sign in A New Hope.

The comic definitely owes something in its style to books like Hellboy and The Goon, but Robo is definitely his own character. The product of an experiment by Nikola Tesla in the early part of the twentieth century, Robo’s adventures stretch over nearly a hundred years. With a variety of partners and allies, he fights everything from giant ants to living pyramids to Cthulhu-like monsters in his job as a “fighting scientist”.

The shtick owes something to Mignola’s BPRD, but Robo never quite enters the darker sides of the world made famous by Mr. Mignola. Instead his adventures, maintain a lighter air. Much of the reason for that can be attributed to the cartoonish pencils of artist Scott Wegener. Wegener seems perfectly made for a comic mixing robots and weird science and through his surprisingly expressive, animation-inspired style, Robo and company come to beautiful life.

Aiding Wegener on the book is webcomic pioneer Brian Clevinger. The co-creator/writer melds a mix of genres to make sure Robo’s adventures are over the top whether they fall in the thirties, World War II, or the present day.

But the most important factor that both Clevinger and Wegener bring to the book is a heaping helping of fun. So often, modern comics forget that they don’t always have to keep everything dark and brooding to tell a compelling tale. Atomic Robo equals any book in degrees of suspense, but it always manages to keep a fun spirit in the process.

The first two volumes of Atomic Robo are in trade paperback. You can order Volume 1 to your right or get Volume 2 here.Volume 3 is just about to wrap up in comic form. Both creators already plan multiple continuing volumes, so it looks like Robo isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Highly recommended.

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