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Atomic Robo: Atomic Robo and the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne

Review

Atomic Robo: Atomic Robo and the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne

You know how Mike Mignola was inspired by H. P. Lovecraft when he created Hellboy? Well, this book is kind of the same thing, except that it's a robot wearing jodhpurs and the writer was driven by Indiana Jones instead of tentacle creepiness." That's how the comics store clerk sold me on Atomic Robo, and I have to say, he's right on.

Atomic Robo follows the adventures of a robot created by Nikolas Tesla in 1923, and since then he's been fighting the good fight against all things inexplicable and bizarre with his fellows at the Tesladyne Institute. Robo is intelligent, thoughtful and as full of witty comebacks as William Powell in the Thin Man movies, even while he's bashing giant ants and tracking a loony, power-mad scientist bent on world domination (though really, when are they not?). As he and his human colleagues tangle with everything from a marauding pyramid to Nazis, they are the kind of folks that I'd want to be out there defending us from nefarious inventions. All the members of the team are top-notch fighters, of course, but what endeared them to me is how they were able to argue, mid-battle, about just why giant ants are physically impossible and airing theories on how they might have been created anyway. It's the kind of geeky conversation my friends and I (all nerds in our own way) get into all the time, but with extra butt-kicking.

Robo is a bit of a man out of time --- he's been around since 1923, after all, and while he doesn't change or age in the typical way, the world changes around him and his colleagues age, retire and die.  His pop culture is decades out of date, and while his optimistic attitude gets him through the day, it's nice to see the writer give some real thought into how being an intelligent, feeling robot over the century would have its drawbacks. The dialogue is snappy and fun, adding clever humor to every scene, and Scott Wegener's art is a great mix of style and dynamic panels. The coloring brings everything tightly together. This title reminds me a bit of Javier Grillo-Marxuach's Middleman series, with a similar retro spirit and attention paid to banter. So if you're in the mood for adventure tinged with the derring-do of an old-school action hero, pick up Atomic Robo. You won't be disappointed.

Reviewed by Robin Brenner on December 29, 2009

Atomic Robo: Atomic Robo and the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne
by Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener, Ronda Pattison, and Jeff Powell

  • Publication Date: December 29, 2009
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Red 5 Comics
  • ISBN-10: 0980930200
  • ISBN-13: 9780980930207