I'm going to stick to this different article theme every day, so enjoy the routine. Thursdays will now be home to reviews of trade paperbacks and graphic novels.
My roommate lent me Atomic Robo and the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne about a month ago for my trip home but until recently I had forgotten about it, despite the fact that it kept me sane during a two hour flight delay. Atomic Robo was created by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener and has run in several limited series published by Red 5 Comics, the most recent was published in may 2011.
Atomic Robo, the character this time, is a fully conscious human like robot created by fiction's favorite nonfiction scientist, Nikola Telsa. The first volume concerns itself with the exposition of Robo's character rather than an origin story. Since Robo was created in the earlier part of the 20th century and many parts of the story take place in a modern setting, the collection likes to jump to different points in Robo's "life" to build his personality. His main adventures deal with a combination of scientific exploits, action sequences, and witty intelligent sarcasm. In this volume alone, Robo fights mad nazi scientists, creates a team of soldier scientists, and travels to Mars at the behest of Carl Sagan. When all that is squeezed into 6 issues, it is no surprise that Atomic Robo was nominated for the best limited series Eisner Award, losing out to the phenomenal Umbrella Academy.
The writing is quick with good comedic pacing. As much of the humor occurs during periods of heavy gunfire, one wouldn't expect the characters to be overly chatty. The transitions of the book are sudden, but flawless. In one panel Robo becomes incapacitated in the Sahara with a close up of his face and the next panel is almost visually identical but instead we are in Death Valley in 1974. Atomic Robo is filled with transitions to different time periods and they never feel out of place. The book really feels like it is coming from Robo, the story follows how his thoughts wander through the century that he has experienced. The writing contributes well to the science fiction genre of being while staying planted in an only slightly altered reality.
The art of the book bears a fun and adventurous yet serious feel. Considering this is a book that doesn't seem to take itself too seriously, there are many panels that without words convey the loneliness of Robo. The coloring is well done. It is vibrant, precise and varies well with the story line.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Atomic Robo. It may not qualify as deep graphic literature, but Robo's character and emotions are better developed than many comic characters. Considering they did that without sacrificing humor, this was one of the funniest books I have read, makes Atomic Robo a book worth looking at.