Friday, May 25, 2012

Recommended Reading for 5/25: Atomic Robo

Before I get into my discussion of Atomic Robo and all its glory, go and read The Promise from the Robo creators. And while you’re at it, check out a couple of the free stories on the web-site. It’s ok. I’ll wait.

The Promise

Wasn’t that great? Atomic Robo is fun and smart comics. This is a comic you can share with your friends, with your kids, with your grandparents, and everyone would get a kick out of it. If you like action, humor, or history, you’ll find it here. I’m not sure if all the science is accurate, but it sure as heck sounds like it is, so you might learn something. I picked  Robo as my first recommended reading title because it sums up everything that this blog is about: comics that are not full of themselves, comics that are there to entertain, to make you think, to make you smile. Comics that are just plain great.

For those of you who came right back without checking out any of the background information on the site, Atomic Robo is the story of, well, Atomic Robo, a nuclear powered artificial intelligence created by Nikola Tesla, patron saint of historical science fiction. Being pretty much immortal, Robo has long outlived his creator, and now controls Tesladyne Industries, a think tank that he uses to try to better the world.

And that, my readers, is all you need to know about Atomic Robo to go out and pick up any volume of the series. Or pretty much any issue of any volume of the series. Robo is one of the greatly accessible comics. I got my first taste of Robo on Free Comic Book Day in 2009, and was completely hooked. I went out, bought the first trade, and found something that was just… special.

Don’t get me wrong, just because it’s accessible, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to get a reward for being a loyal Robo reader. Robo is an interestingly, for want of a better word, human character. There have been Robo stories set back as far as the 30s, and up until today, and reading them all creates a great tapestry, and you watch the character grow in a way many comic characters, who are by default stuck in time, can’t. Since the stories take place over that length of time, there is also a great use of historical people. Carl Sagan fights Cthulu-esque monsters, Robo trains with Bruce Lee, Robo fights Thomas Edison, both while Edison's alive and as a ghost. You never know who is going to pop up in a Robo story.

I’ve talked about the story here, all brilliantly put together by Brian Clevinger, but a big part of Robo’s charm comes from the art. Scott Wegener, co-creator and regular Robo artist, has a wonderful style. I personally love his faces. He finds a way to make Robo, who has fairly limited amount of expression due to his “construction,” incredibly expressive. And that means his human characters are even more expressive. There is also very few artists in the biz who draw a better action scene. The flow from panel to panel is perfect, and I can think of very few artists with as good a sense of composition and continuity.

So there you go. Atomic Robo. There are six trades out there, as well as a new anthology ongoing, Atomic Robo: Real Science Adventures, so you should go and pick one up. You'll enjoy it.

 Oh, and did I mention his arch nemesis is an insane dinosaur scientist who want to wipe out humanity.

If that doesn't make you want to read, I don't know what will.

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