Sunday, 15 July 2012


Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger (script) and Scott Wegener (art) (from small indie publisher Red 5 Comics) has become my new favourite comic. It is an all-ages comic containing the action science adventures of the title character. The self-aware Robo (as he's usually just called) was created in the 1920's by Nikolai Tesla and in the present is the owner of Tesladyne which specialises in advanced (and very dangerous) scientific inventions and saving the world. Robo's adventures can, therefore, cover a period of nearly a hundred years. Vol 4 is set in 1999, vol 5 in 1930, and vol 6 2011.

And basically it's mad as a box of monkeys but in a very endearing way.

Meet arch-enemy Doctor Dinosaur who believes he is a time-travelling genius dinosaur from the Cretaceous era. Robo (in their first encounter) spends an entire issue fighting while poking logical holes in DD's argument that he is any of these things. This is simply the funniest comic I have ever read. The dialogue immediately preceding the panel above has DD stating he's going to cut off Robo's head and post it to the US government. Robo asks how he's going to do this when they're on a desert island hundreds of miles from a post office. (Incidentally, DD is correct -it is a sentence. Robo doesn't always get it right.) 

This is from vol 4 Atomic Robo and Other Strangeness. A series of standalone stories set in 1999, they include vampires from a parallel world, Japan's Science Team Super 5, a ghost at Tesladyne labs, and the wonderfully deluded Doctor Dinosaur.

Vol.5 (the first I read) Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science is set in 1930 when Robo is still a gofer for Tesla. Inspired by pulp thrillers, he tries to get The Tarot, a two-gun masked crimefighter, to allow him to become his assistant in an adventure which results in our two heroes and The Tarot's beautiful daughter battling against Tesla's arch-enemy Thomas Edison and Edison's very large robot.

The Ghost of Station X is the 6th and latest collection. Robo and Tesladayne find themselves under attack from an enemy they can't locate. But what does this have to do with a vanished building at Bletchley, England, where Alan Turing, the tragic founder of modern computing, worked on the Enigma machine during World War 2? You'll be surprised.

This is an enormously exuberant series, far more clever and intelligent than the angular cartoony artwork would suggest. Robo himself is an engaging character being warm, witty and compassionate. It's simply the most entertaining comic I've read in a long time. Despite the all-ages tag, it isn't written down, rather it's written up. Ten year olds will enjoy it but on a completely different level to their parents. Greg Rucka, writing a puff piece (introduction), states he immediately gave it to his wife to read and then his 11 year old son (and presumably his servants if he has any -Lady Chatterly's Lover trial joke) and he was absolutely right to do so. Atomic Robo refreshes the parts of the imagination that other comics fail to do while allowing you to experience the sheer joy of Action Science.

So, you are no doubt asking, why don't I have the first three volumes in the series. Short answer: because they're all over £20 each and are out of print. A used copy of volume 3 is available for £49.95, a new copy for £1287.06. I think this last one might be a mistake and have emailed the seller to check. I'm hoping it might be £12.87 but realistically that's not very likely. I did manage to order a copy of Vol 2 for about £14.00 but was so excited I forgot to check the condition which is 'very good' which could mean anything.

No comments: