I remember when Red 5 debuted, as I was writing for the unique website/magazine Infuze at the time. Sadly that site is no longer around, but Red 5, and their flagship character Atomic Robo thankfully still are.
The regular partnership of writer Brian Clevinger and artist Scott Wegener once more provide readers with another instalment of zany fun that anyone can ease into. The beauty of Robo’s format of multiple mini-series (this is the fifth volume) means that there’s no prior knowledge required. Every mini-series and individual issue is self-contained. If you feel like comical comics, then just pick up any ish of Robo you see and satisfaction will be guaranteed.
This debut issue of a new series, titled Deadly Art of Science opens in Chicago, and later New York, in 1930, when Atomic Robo (creation of famed scientist Nikola Tesla) is new to the world and the adventures that can be had within it. Before we see Robo, who’s getting bored with Tesla’s experiments, we are introduced to Jack Tarot, Gunfighter and his daughter Nightingale, who is kind of a low-tech Oracle, offering assistance and guidance to Tarot in the midst of a car chase against some gangsters.
Tarot is a man’s man; a no-nonsense hero with a red mask/handkerchief (a maskerchief perhaps?) and a sense of style and the kind of derring-do that gets things done, and usually results in dead bad guys, much to his daughter’s frustration.
It’s great to see Robo as a curious wannabe adventurer, as all previous mini-series have largely shown an established and confident Robo. He’s still confident (and witty) here too, but is also slightly overawed by all the gunplay going on around him. He sees the daring life of Tarot (stuck on a bad guy’s windshield as he zooms past a street sweeping Robo) and wants in. After some relentless curiosity, Robo follows Tarot, who sees the metal man as nothing more than an annoyance. Teaming the slightly madcap Robo with a seasoned hero is a masterstroke filled with buddy cop potential. It’s like Indiana Jones teaming up with Spider-Man. Sort of.
Clevinger’s fast paced script and Wegener’s tight and expressive pencils define the word, “romp,” and it’s no surprise that both men have been noticed by the big boys. Clevinger is now writing Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet, a rather humorous take on the classic cosmic storyline from Marvel. Clevinger has also done some recent work for the publisher on titles such as Punisher War Journal. The pair really do work well together, with this great mix of action and comedy. Of course, both of those things are reliant on timing and expression and here, like in every other Atomic Robo series, these two guys know what they’re doing when it comes to that, which means every page is just a joy to devour.
This first issue of a 5 issue mini-series is available now.