Atomic Robo made an impression on the comics scene last year the same way he does in this story; packed with action and pleasant surprises. From new publisher, Red 5 who seem to be picking their projects wisely, this series is the ideal gateway title. If you’ve been away from comics for a while with all the soap opera spandex stories, or the every increasing adult tales wrapped in seemingly child-like packages, then you need to do yourself a favour. You need to buy Atomic Robo Vol. 1. It will renew your love for the medium and give you faith in its future. Books that are simply fun and that can be shared with the whole family are a rarity on today’s stands. Robo is a new creation, yet he collates the best bits of pulp adventurers as well as the fun of early Savage Dragon and the actiony wit of Hellboy (the movie version).
We discover that Atomic Robo was created by actual genius Nikola Tesla in 1923 and has been serving the U.S government since then. He’s basically a one-man army. Like Captain America, but , y’know a robot, and with a sense of humour.
He fights Nazis (though they’re not referred to as such) giant ants in the Reno desert (possibly mutated by the growing field of “imaginary physics”), walking pyramids and more.
The stories are set up nicely as we go from the present where Robo and his team fight the weird monstrosity of the day, to times in years previous and learn of the friends he’s lost along the way. An ageless robot who’s passing 80 can not help but deal with real emotions and Clevenger show this side with a clarity equal to the humourous action. This book collects the first six issues, plus four extra short back-up tales by various artists, the covers of the issues, a gallery of Robo by even more artists and a look at the early concept sketches of the character from Weneger. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a two page look at Atomic Robo’s technically advanced components. All these extras just make a neat 180+ page book even neater.
Robo’s bickering Action Science League offer some humour but Robo’s the funny one of the bunch and has all the quips straight out of a cheesy 80s action film. Even real-life figures like Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking manage to make an impression as Robo ventures to Mars for the first time to aid NASA in their research (and finds the worst enemy man can face-boredom!) Artist Scott Weneger can draw character reactions, dark machinery, underground bases and scary creatures all with equal skill. His lines may seem simple, but don’t be deceived. It takes effort to make it look effortless and it is awfully pretty to look at. Coupled with writer Brian Clevenger’s fast paced script it all feels like a pulpy Bond film that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Clevenger and Weneger seem to come from the same school as myself; the School of Saturday Morning Cartoons. They aced their class in action that makes you cheer and characters that make you smile. Now they’re the teachers. So sit up, and pay attention.