Writer/Artist: Alex Sheikman
Colorist: Joel Chua
Publisher: Archaia Studios Press
I want to start this review with an analysis of the positive aspects of this issue of Robotika and the series as a whole.
First off, Alex Sheikmanís art is very good, with a wonderful sense of style overall and a good flow from panel to panel. For instance, the fight scenes early in issue #2 are very well choreographed, with bombs and butterflies flying from panel to panel effortlessly and without boundaries. Sheikman takes risks with his artwork, throwing in many unique techniques and visuals to keep the reader tuned in. Yet, when he gambles with the look of Robotika, I never felt a sense of alienation from the whole. Instead, there are elements in every panel that reminded me of something I have seen before, but never so blatant as to be directly comparable. Sheikman has a good idea of what his influences are, and those factors, whatever they may be, lead to a focused look for all of the art in the first two issues. Overall, this is a great looking comic book!
That being said, there are some elements of this issue that are a little less than spectacular. Letís get the most obvious complaint out of the way first. Cherokeeís word balloons are maddeningly distracting, ruining any stylist effect that Sheikman hoped to create from their placement. Placing words in the balloon vertically rather than horizontally ruins the pacing and slows everything down. At least in this issue I realized that the weird configuration indicated that Cherokee was speaking a different language than the other characters here, but itís still more a nuisance than anything else. Again, you canít say Sheikman doesnít try and take risks!
However, in regards to the overall impression of the issue, the story really didnít excite me too much and ended with such a whimper that I really didnít care about seeing the next issue. The Queenís materialistic excess in the conclusion is not nearly as shocking as I think it was supposed to be, mainly because I really donít have that much connection with Niko, the main character. Thereís something to be said about a main character that (so far) is mute, but I think the connectivity problem goes deeper than that. Nikoís character has nothing for me to latch onto other than his fine fighting skills, which is not enough to sustain me as a reader. If Sheikmanís character continues in this fashion, then itís a good thing this is only a four issue series. Donít get me wrong: titles like this are good for comic books as a whole, stretching the boundaries beyond the established super-hero variety. But, there has to be readability as well as imagination, or readers will never choose this book over the many familiar Marvel and DC titles out there.
The subject of choice leads me to my final complaint about this issue, and this complaint is directed squarely at the publisher, Archaia Studios Press (or ASP for short). How in the world do you justify selling this issue at a $3.95 cover price? There are a total of 27 pages of comic story in this issue, 6 of which are a back story that readers will probably not find interesting until later in the series, meaning that 21 pages of this issue are the newest chapter of Robotika. How do you ever expect to compete with the big boys, not to mention Dark Horse or Image, when you are charging $4.00 for this issue? With money tighter today than ever before (Have you checked out gas prices lately?), fans would rather have a familiar product for $3 or less than something new for at least a dollar more. Just something to keep in mind...
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