EDITOR's NOTE: Atomic Robo: Dogs of War #1 will be available in stores August 13, 2008.
Originally introduced to readers in 2007, Atomic Robo is a robot built by inventor Nikola Tesla. After six issues were published by Red 5 Comics a fan base developed, and now those inaugural entries into the world of the unique character are compiled into a trade-paperback that saw release in June of 2008.
Atomic Robo: Dogs of War details the eponymous character’s interaction in the historical battle that took place on Italian soil, codenamed “Operation Husky”, designed to wrest the control of the area from the Axis.
The story begins with Allied soldiers preparing to land on the beach, facing the possibility of death. There are very real consequences for these men, which writer Brian Clevinger does not ignore. It’s one of the more interesting aspects of the comic, considering it concerns more than a walking, talking atomic robot tearing its enemies apart. It’s a surprising dichotomy to find within a book that could so easily be non-stop action, with nothing beneath.
That’s not to say there isn’t non-stop action available, however, because mostly the first of the promised five issues is, in fact, action packed. There is a break in the action for a flashback sequence showing Atomic Robo and his superiors planning the invasion. Mixed in with the mention of Nazi Germany’s fictional “laufpanzer” (which roughly translates into “run tank”) are references to the war that coincide with factual events, showcasing Clevinger’s research. Atomic Robo and his fellow soldiers discuss the strategic ramifications of Nazi Germany’s retreat in Africa; basically, this is the reason they are now in Sicily. Weaving his fictional story through actual historic events, Clevinger proves he does not think of the war lightly, and utilizes his knowledge to accent the tale.
Some readers may be disappointed to read a book called Atomic Robo only to find that every page is not filled with the title character, but issue one doesn’t suffer much from it. I did wonder how many pages would go by before I saw him again, but in the end decided the blending of the narratives worked, again, because of the consequences.
Reading about an indestructible robot might be entertaining, but how long would it take before readers become divorced from their compassion because this guy simply cannot be harmed.
In one scene here we are shown how much concern exists between Atomic Robo and his fellow soldiers; a pilot insists Atomic Robo jump from the plane, despite the raging fire engulfing one of his engines. What does Atomic Robo do? He says, “Don’t worry about that, just land this bird and we’ll get you to safety!”
Right there, we are shown the nature of this story. Clevinger is molding a tale of a character inhuman in construction, but not design. Behind those large, glowing blue eyes, Atomic Robo is a compassionate guy, and this is what makes the comic interesting. I can only guess at what will come in future issues that will force me to relate to a metal hull shaped like a human, but I’m fairly sure it is coming.
Art wise, Atomic Robo is comparable to the works of Michael Avon Oeming. There are lots of hard lines, square jaws and shoulders, but this does not take away the human aspect of the characters, even those that aren’t classifiably so. Actually, despite Atomic Robo’s lack of a mouth, the character manages to be expressive enough with eyes alone. It is also likely that penciler Scott Wegener did some historical research into the vehicles and garb of the time; with planes, uniforms, and weapons, the comic is a believable representation of World War II.
With an ending that should leave readers waiting to see what happens next, this comic should be on your list of things to check out.
Also included is a back-up story, but I’ll leave that to be experienced on your own. All I’ll say is this: robot swimsuit.
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