Daily Archives: July 2, 2008

Quick Critiques – July 2, 2008

Atomic Robo Volume One: Atomic Robot and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne trade paperback (Red 5 Comics)
by Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener, Joshua Ross, Zack Finfrock, Christian Ward & Nic Klein

Atomic Robo was easily one of the most fun comic books of the past year, and while it’s reminiscent of such properties as Hellboy and The Amazing Screw-On Head, it also manages to stand out as a novel concept. What really draws one in is the sense of humor and the fanciful, exaggerated look of the artwork. Clevinger has developed a great voice for the title character. He’s snarky but brilliant, brave but goofy. Instead of lamenting the absurdity and freakishness of his own existence, he embraces it. That he’s found others to share in it helps to humanize him, tempering the inherent isolation of who and what he is. I had read several of the issues that make up for collected edition, but not all, and one of those I missed turned out to bring a great deal of heart and resonance to the character. He doesn’t feel different because he’s a machine, but rather, it’s his longevity with which he struggles. Friendships are clearly important in his life, and that he’s forced to watch so many wither away and die while he continues on unchanged makes for a touching emotional conflict in the middle of this funny, action-driven property. Wegener’s exaggerated art suits the kinetic, goofy tone of the writing, and his design for the title character allows the hero to be expressive without distorting his mechanical nature. Wegener’s style is comparable to the cartooning of such artists as Jim (Stupid Comics) Mahfood and Dave (Puffed) Crosland. The shorter backup features also allows us to see Atomic Robo and his world through other eyes. While Wegener’s work in the main stories is stronger, the character design translates surprisingly well when artists with divergent styles take a shot at him. 8/10

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