Robot 13 #3 Review

Well, technically this issue isn’t out just yet but you can pre-order it, as I heartily recommend you do. The conclusion of Robot 13 (hopefully, only for now) is a great example of the talent found within the ranks of indie comics. Writer Tom Hall and artist Daniel Blackford, working as Blacklist Studios, know how to craft a decent tale. There have only been 3 issues of this series centred on the enigmatic monster fighter of the title, but each one has been getting great buzz. Apparently a TPB will be released at some point, and coupled with the issues, via Panelfly and Robot Comics, on mobile devices means R13 will get more respect.

The simplicity of R13 is what lends it its charm. Robot 13 is the name of a centuries old skull headed robot who is charged with battling mythical monstrosities (one in every issue) with a fearless attitude and gangly limbs. With his origin becoming slightly less mysterious with every issue (and thankfully explained beautifully here), and Hall’s sparse use of captions and dialogue, this is one of those comics that can be easily read within minutes, but will more than likely be read multiple times. In this conclusion, R13 struggles to recall his ancient past, and recuperates from last issue’s battle while in the hillside home of a blind man called Oliver, and his dog.

It’s not long before a huge crimson cyclops tracks him down on a mad quest for vengeance and the battle heats up. This is by far the best issue yet. Bradford’s Mike Mignola comparisons seem far less necessary by now. Every issue has been filled with pages designed with such gusto that they demand to be gazed at. With #3 Bradford pulls out all the stops and fills these 32 pages with many moments like that. He has an uncanny knack of just knowing what looks unashamedly cool on paper, and it’s all done with so few lines and such subtle colouring, that it makes it even more impressive. The hard-edged approach to every shape, use of silhouettes and great tension building arrangement of panels all work splendidly to make this an engaging, and easy to follow tale. I could easily see Hall and Bradford working on a Clash of the Titans comic with the same vigour they show here.

Hall breathes humanity onto these pages to work hand in battle ravaged hand with Bradford’s artistry. Just a few conversations here and a few hints there and the story falls into place like toppling dominoes. There’s no verbose speeches in the vein of Brian Michael Bendis or Kevin Smith needed. I’m glad this pair have received the recognition they deserve. Really, R13 is just the product of 2 hard working fellows who obviously care about their end product greatly and that streamlined approach to storytelling makes this series as likeable as its metallic hero.

If you love R13 as much as I (and many others) do, you can also vote for the title in the Best Horror Comic Book category at the Rondo Awards before April 3. Below are the details from the R13 site, and here’s a great interview with both gentlemen, which is necessary reading for any would be self publishers.

The 8th annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards Ballot has been released, and Robot 13 has been nominated for Best Horror Comic Book!
The Rondo awards are a yearly program to allow fans of Horror to vote for their favorites in Horror film, books, comics, music and general fandom and can be voted on by YOU the fan! If you go to Rondoaward.com, you can get the ballot information as well as info about the Rondos and lists of past winners. You can vote for as many or as few of the categories as you like- so if there are those that you just don’t know anything about, feel free to pass on those and vote for the categories you feel strongly about. All votes must be emailed to taraco@aol.com with your name (so they can adhere to the One Person=One Vote rule) by Midnight of April 3, 2010.
While we would LOVE for you to Vote for Robot 13 for Best Horror Comic Book, I want to also encourage you to check out the site and vote for as many of the categories as you feel knowledgeable about. It’s an awesome, grass roots type of thing and a HUGE honor to be nominated for everyone involved.

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