Robot 13: Colossus! #1
Writer: Thomas Hall
Artist: Daniel Bradford
Cover artists: Daniel Bradford/Jeff Slemons
Publisher: Blacklist Studios
Price: $3 US/$4 CAN
Sometimes, it pays for comic shops to have sharp staff members who know comics and know their customers’ tastes. That’s how this particular comic book came to my attention. My local comic shop was so supportive of this indy effort that it ordered more copies of this book than many DC and Marvel releases that were on the stand beside it. I can see why. Robot 13, both the title and the character, boasts the same kind of appeal and cachet that made Hellboy and Atomic Robo such successes (to varying degrees, of course) in the comics industry. Robot 13 was definitely inspired by Mignola’s work, especially when it comes to the visuals. Some might argue Robot 13 is redundant in light of the publication of those other properties, but I was thoroughly entertained and amused, not to mention dazzled by the macabre design for the title character.
The crew of a fishing vessel makes an unusual discovery, something like looks like the dead body of a diver in an old, unusual suit. Their discovery stirs something else up from the depths below, a huge, kraken-like creature that cuts a bloody swath through the crew. Luckily for the captain, the “dead diver” awakens, and armed with weapons from the boat and incredible strength, he rises to the defence of his rescuers.
Daniel Bradford’s style here reminds looks like Mignola meets Jason (Dead Irons) Alexander. His design for Robot 13 clearly takes a lot of cues from Mignola’s style. The characters limbs are far more elongated and thin than the appendages on Mignola’s figures, but the thick torso and eerie dome of a head convey all of the power the character needs. Mignola’s influence on Bradford’s artwork is never more apparent than in the artwork he created for one of the two covers adorning this debut issue. There’s a bit of Kirby in his work as well, which shows through in his depictions of the sea monster that serves as this issue’s antagonist. The exaggerated, cartoony expressions adorning the human characters’ faces fortunately don’t instill a farcical tone to the action; instead, they bring out and enhance the horror of a few key fleeting moments.
This comic book’s script doesn’t boast the same kind of irreverence that one would find in Atomic Robo and early Hellboy comics. Writer Thomas Hall seems to aim for a chilling, gruesome atmosphere at first, giving way to a dark mystery when the danger passes. Of course, the lankiness of the main character’s robotic limbs makes me think the creators aren’t going to take the overall epic of Robot 13’s quest for his identity too seriously at all times.
This inaugural issue is a little light on plot. We simply meet the title character, see him in action and that’s about it. This is just a taste, but it’s enough to get me to head back to the buffet. There’s a lot of energy and imagination in the concept, and while this comic book is a light, quick read, there’s the promise of more to come. We know that Robot 13 has a voice, so I would imagine we’re going to get to know him as more than just a battling behemoth. Hall would be well advised to avoid mirroring the kind of tough, colloquial personalities we’ve seen in similar creations so as to set Robot 13 apart. 7/10