Atomic Robo is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to check out for a while and I finally picked up the first issue of the fifth mini-series last week. The woman at the counter raved about the series, so my interest was even more piqued by the time I got to read it. The first issue was a blast, so I was stoked that the second issue came out this week.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Atomic Robo is a robot created by Nikola Tesla, and this robot has real personality. Robo is a curious, eager student of the world, and he interacts with Tesla as though the scientist were his biological father. In this mini, he chases a character named Tarot who reminds him of the heroes from his pulp books. Every few minutes, Robo humorously peppers Tarot with questions like a little kid trying to get his parents’ attention.
There was a short phase in comics where it seemed like everyone was trying to work the historical figure Tesla into their stories, but few could match the full realization of the character like Atomic Robo does. Tesla is warm and caring towards Robo but entirely dispassionate toward other creatures in his scientific experiments. He is not a cruel man, but he draws a very clear line between “family” and his work.
The art of Atomic Robo makes me think of Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon, and Jeff Lemire. All of these artists create very expressive characters, and they all use a more cartoony look rather than a photorealistic approach. Scott Wegener’s characters have very angular features, but they still manage to feel dynamic through all of the battle scenes and even in regular conversation. The 1920s setting looks fantastic, and a robot in the midst of it all creates a wonderful environment for some fun stories. Bright colors help the book capture a light-hearted feel.
Readers can jump right into this volume without having to know any past events. References to past events make you want to go back and find out all of the details, but this story doesn’t depend on your knowledge of those stories. Find issues #1 and #2, and you are ready for one upbeat story.