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Atomic Robo & the Shadow from Beyond Time #2

Posted: Saturday, June 6, 2009
By: Matthew Brady

Brian Clevinger
Scott Wegener
Red 5 Comics
“The Doom that Came to Robo”

Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener have set up an excellent story generator in this series, with opportunities to spin tales of action, adventure, humor, and horror spanning most of the 20th century and continuing on into the present. And it’s a blast getting to read these stories, because they have a way with fast-paced action and deadpan, funny dialogue.

In this third mini-series, we’re transported to 1926 New York, as the titular character ends up in a battle to save the Earth from a rampaging tentacled beast after he gets approached by horror author H.P. Lovecraft and chronicler of “anomalous phenomena” Charles Fort (both real-life figures). It turns out that Nikola Tesla, Robo’s designer and mentor, teamed up with these gentlemen to stop the monstrous being in 1908, inadvertently causing the infamous “Tunguska incident." But it’s not a conventional, three-dimensional creature--it exists outside of time and is free to pop back up in our world and run wild.

And that’s where the fun starts, as we get scenes of destruction as the ever-growing monster, which is actually sprouting from Lovecraft’s head, tramples around the city, and Robo and Fort give chase in an old-timey car. To add to the goofiness, Robo spends a good portion of the pursuit talking to Tesla on his car phone (“A radio communication device in an autocar?” says Fort, “I wouldn’t believe it if I weren’t me.”), acting like a teenager who is trying to cover up some ruckus while his parents are away from home.

That’s what Clevinger and Wegener do so well, mixing humor into big, over-the-top action to make for a highly entertaining read. Wegener’s art really sells the action, filling scenes with a lot of detail and giving a real sense of scale to the destruction of a building-sized monster. And he does funny stuff really well too, making Robo surprisingly expressive even though the only features on his face that ever change are the “lids” of his eyes. It’s all about posture and the way we interpret human emotion on his non-human face. Good stuff, all around.

With the first mini-series, the stories jumped around in time, giving us a taste of Robo’s adventures over the years, but the follow-ups have stuck to longer, single era tales, giving us a chance to spend more time with the character and tell fuller stories. This one is shaping up to be a doozy, and it should be great fun to see Clevinger and Wegener continue to pull out all the stops.



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