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Somebody’s First Comic Book: Atomic Robo Vol. 1-Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne

February 26, 2012 1 comment

Wondering what Somebody’s First Comic Book is all about? The explanation is on this page!

TITLE: Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne

CREDITS:
Writer:
Brian Clevinger
Art:
Scott Wegener
Colors:
Ronda Pattison
Letters:
Jeff Powell
Publisher:
Red 5 Comics

PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: Never heard of him. I’m guessing “Atomic Robo” is the robot with the gun who looks like he beat up the bigger robot with the skull head.

IMPRESSIONS: Holy crap, this book is insane.

In six chapters, we’re introduced to the world of Atomic Robo, an 83-year-old robot who has apparently fought in World War II, battled monsters and mad scientists for decades, and owns a company called Tesladyne with which he and a group of “action scientists” protect the world from ludicrous menaces, such as that pyramid in Egypt that got up and started walking away, blowing stuff up in the process.

I’m using words like “insane” and “ludicrous” here to describe the book, but you’ve got to understand I intend that in a totally complimentary way. The stuff Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener have come up with to populate the world of Atomic Robo are wild, out-of-this world kinds of menaces that work well in contrast with the hero himself. It’s like somebody mashed together Indiana Jones, Doc Savage and Buckaroo Banzai, then turned the result into a robot. Everything about this property reminds me of the blatant toy commercial cartoons of the 1980s, except that this is actually really good.

To be fair, it is kind of confusing. It’s obvious that Robo has a pretty rich history here, but we don’t see very much of it. Even the flashback sequences (such as the time his trip to Mars was sabotaged by Stephen Hawking, of all people) only give us glimpses to his past adventures. We know he was active in World War II because he gets a letter from the granddaughter of an old army buddy telling him that his friend has died. Beyond that, we don’t know much – where did he come from, who invented him, what’s his origin?

Fortunately, these questions are more tantalizing than frustrating. It would be easy to load a book like this one with a ton of things that are left unresolved and leave the audience unsatisfied, but that isn’t the case here. The questions that are raised are never central to the plot or the character’s role in the story, so we feel like we’ve got a complete, satisfying tale in and of itself, even as we want to know more.

And you’re telling me there are five more books in this series? So far? Awesome. Give me more Atomic Robo.

GRADE: A-

Atomic Robo and the Shadow From Beyond Time #1

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

May 9, 2009

Atomic Robo: Shadow From Beyond Time #1 (Red 5 Comics)
By Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener & Lauren Pettapiece

Atomic Robo returns! In this series, set back in 1926, Robo is working in Tesla’s lab while the great scientist himself is out of town. Suddenly, two old associates of Tesla’s show up desperate for help. A great darkness is coming, and with Tesla gone, is Robo bot enough to stop it? The two guest-stars in this issue help make it particularly memorable, and the threat is incredibly entertaining. Plus, as always, the artwork is beyond reproach. It’s amazing how much emotion Wegener manages to convey in Robo’s face when all he really has to work with is a pair of eyelids. As always, the book is exciting, entertaining, and a heck of a lot of fun. And best of all, it stands on its own pretty well, even if you’ve never read either of the previous Atomic Robo miniseries. There’s also a short back-up with art by Lauren Pettapiece, an amusing piece that follows a pair of spin-off characters and provides some chuckles. Another fantastic issue. This book has become one of my favorites.
Rating: 10/10

Atomic Robo/Foster Broussard/Moon Girl #1

August 4, 2011 Leave a comment

July 21, 2011

Title: Atomic Robo in National Science Fair

Writer: Brian Clevinger
Art: Scott Wegener
Colorist: Ronda Pattison
Letterer: Jeff Powell
Cover: Scott Wegener
Publisher: Red 5 Comics

Atomic Robo is one of those titles I may never have found if it wasn’t for Free Comic Book Day, so having that book available every year has become something I look forward to with true, genuine excitement. This year, as always, that excitement turned out to be wholly justified. In the Atomic Robo story we meet a young girl who believes she’s destined to become an Action Scientist, one of the special operatives that work with Atomic Robo, and using her Telluric Interchanger to win the fourth grade science fair seems the best way to do it. It helps, of course, that Atomic Robo is there for the fair. It doesn’t help as much that his arch-nemesis Dr. Dinosaur is there too. I’m a fan of Robo in general, but the Dr. Dinosaur stories tend to be my favorite. He’s the most deliciously incompetent supervillain ever created – a super-intelligent dinosaur, which still makes him kind of a moron compared to Robo, who isn’t nearly as smart as he thinks he is, but is nonetheless terribly dangerous. He’s also guilty of strangely specific denials (“I do not even know who Tom Baker is!”) and really entertaining moments of destruction. I’d totally read a Dr. Dinosaur miniseries, Brian Clevinger. I would.

Two other stories in this issue…

Title: Foster Broussard in Demons of the Gold Rush                                                              

Creator: Trevor Pryce
Writer: David Ziebart
Pencils: Dan Glasl
Inks: Ambert Gant
Colorist: Adam Guzowski
Letterer: Troy Peteri

This is probably the story in this issue I enjoyed least, which is to say, it’s still pretty good. In Victorian England a young man named Foster Broussard is convicted of numerous crimes. As he stands on the gallows, waiting for execution, he finds a way to sweet-talk no less a personage than the queen herself, scoring him a commuted sentence and the chance to go to California to seek the newly-discovered gold. It’s okay, and Foster himself seems cut from the “charming rogue” template quite nicely, but you don’t really get a taste of the series as a whole. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a comedy, an adventure, or even a horror story based on what we’re reading here, and that’s not enough to go on to make me want to buy a new comic.

Title: Moon Girl

Writers: Tony Trov & Johnny Zito
Art: The Rahzzah
Colorist: Gabe Bautista

Moon Girl, on the other hand, definitely gives me a taste of the comic book, and it’s something I wouldn’t mind reading more of. In New York of the 1950s, high-flying heroine Moon Girl is forced into battle with her own former mentor, Satana. The battle is exciting and the artwork is gorgeous. It also helps that Red 5 doesn’t really publish superhero comics. Moon Girl is very close to a superhero title, blending elements of the superhero with Shadow-like mystery men and some 50s-era science fiction to create a character that feels both classic and new at the same time. This is a title I would like to see more of.

Rating: 8/10

Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War #5

July 2, 2011 Leave a comment

December 27, 2008

Atomic Robo: Dogs of War #5 (Red 5 Comics)
By Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener & James Nguyen

With Atomic Robo captured by Skorzeny to power the newest Nazi superweapon, a remarkable rescue operation is put into motion. This is a fantastic conclusion to a great miniseries — the action is tense, there’s plenty of great humor at the right moments and in the right measure, and the art is especially sharp. I’ve really gotten to love Robo and his expanded cast. The back-up story, set some 40 years after the war, works as a fine epilogue to the whole series, giving Robo a chance to face off against a fierce enemy one last time. Without anything you would term as “action,” we’re treated to one of the best scenes in the entire series. That’s what makes this title work — the action is great, but there’s genuine character underneath to form the core of the series. This book was absolutely everything you could want out a comic for pure fun, pure energy, and pure excitement. I can’t wait to see more out of this character and this creative team.
Rating: 10/10

Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War #4

June 6, 2011 Leave a comment

November 22, 2008

Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War #4 (Red 5 Comics)
By Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener, Joshua Ross & Jonathan Ross

The Allies have won the battle in Sicily, but Atomic Robo’s mission hasn’t ended. Otto Skorzeny and the Laufpanzer “walking tanks” are on the run, and he needs to find them and stop them on a moving train… and as if that wasn’t enough, the British spy called the Sparrow keeps getting under his feet. So the first three issues of this series have included an atomic-powered super-robot fighting Nazis, Frankenstein monster types, walking tanks, and (in the back-ups) giant Godzilla pastiches. If you were to ask me how this comic could possibly get any cooler, the only response I could have given you was “have them fight it out on a moving train.” This book has me jazzed up and excited with every issue. There’s more pure fun and energy on a single page of Atomic Robo than in whole issues of some stodgy mainstream books that are way past their prime. The artwork is also magnificent, and the way the back-ups plant Robo in different time periods is a wonderful way to expand the scope of this universe. I’ve become as big a fan of this book as you could ask for.
Rating: 8/10

Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War #3

March 25, 2011 Leave a comment

October 18, 2008

Atomic Robo: Dogs of War #3 (Red 5 Comics)
By Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener & Lauren Pettapiece

Atomic Robo and Lt. Everett board a train deep into Croatia to hunt down the remaining Laufpanzer walking tanks that are planning to disrupt the Allied advance into Europe. As the two of them tear through a train full of Nazis, a new and unexpected enemy pops up to give Robo a run for his money. There’s plenty of action this month, and the creative team here delivers completely. This is fun, exciting, and energizing comics the way they were meant to be told. The back-up story this month is by Clevinger and Lauren Pettapiece. It’s a cute story about what constitutes a vacation for Jenkins, and it’s really funny. I forget who it was who first told me I should check out this title, but I really owe them a big thank-you. I’ve enjoyed every page.
Rating: 8/10

Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War #2

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

September 20, 2008
Atomic Robo: Dogs of War #2 (Red 5 Comics)
By Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener & Derrick Fish

Facing off against the giant Nazi warbot, Atomic Robo attempts to make a daring escape, but winds up leading the enemy into battle against the Allied soldiers attempting to take Sicily away from the Axis powers. And friends, if that sentence isn’t enough to make you realize this comic book is awesome, you just don’t know what awesome is. If there’s any way to make two fighting robots more exciting, you’ve gotta make one of ’em a Nazi to root against. The book is exciting, the writing is crisp, the artwork is sharp and the comic book as a whole is more fun than anything else I’ve read all month. The back-up, featuring a more contemporary Robo fighting a giant monster in a diaper, is equally exciting and silly. This book is pure joy, and you owe it to yourself to pick it up and remember that comics are allowed to be fun once in a while.
Rating: 9/10