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Atomic Robo TPB Volume 1: Atomic Robo & the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne

Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2008
By: John D. Kennedy

Brian Clevinger
Scott Wegener (with colors by Ronda Pattison)
Red 5 Comics
Plot: A wisecracking superhero made of steel and electricity, Robo has spent most of the 20th century protecting the earth from all manner of threats. Together with his creator’s organization, he fights foes ranging from steam-powered cyber-Nazis to giant insects.

Comments: Atomic Robo is a wisecracking sentient robot built by Nikola Tesla, the famed scientist and inventor. Although a robot, he has a rather live sense of humor! He belts out wisecracks as he’s literally belting giant ants. I was left rolling with the battle cry of “Buicks!” as he rams one of the ants with a car.

The stories themselves are hilarious and entertaining, and hold true to the pulp theme of the book. We don’t get introduced to Robo’s true origin, but we get enough to get by--which suits the style of the comic. Reality creeps into the story as well, with several characters talking about how impossible it is for certain things to occur--such as giant insects or big honking . . . well, I”ll let you find those things out for yourself.

Scott Wegener’s artwork is clean and constant throughout. While I’m not a huge fan of how he draws human faces, he is very good at depicting the environment the characters are in and the emotions they feel (well, except for the giant ants, but they’re not very emotional.)

The coloring for this series won an Eisner award, and it was well deserved. Ronda Pattison is able to bring out the smaller details in Wegener’s artwork--such as the metallic seams on Robo’s body or the rust and grime on old Nazi lab equipment.

The pacing of the story takes some getting used too. Brian Clevinger uses a lot of flashback sequences--with some stories being a flashback to another story. It may sound weird, but it actually gets pulled off pretty well. Atomic Robo is very casual in its storytelling in that is not overly complicated and Clevinger seems to have fun as he blends jokes with the action--which helps draw a reader in.

Final Word: Atomic Robo is simply fantastic. It seems like Clevinger has really gotten into the groove and he knows how to tell a story. The only reason I didn’t give this book a full five bullets is because of one nagging detail--the story seems like something I’ve read before.

If you swap out Robo’s mechanical nature with a demonic one, his steel fists with one normal hand and one giant stone fist, and Tesladyne for BPRD, you have Hellboy almost down to a T.

The story is certainly very entertaining, and I enjoyed it. However, with recurring Nazi villains, digressions over humanity, and having an omnipresent military force behind him, Robo and Hellboy are almost one and the same. What makes it so enjoyable though is that Robo brings a refreshing sense of optimism with him, and the humor is well placed.



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