And Then There's The Robots...

By | Tuesday, September 02, 2008 Leave a Comment
In the premier issue of Atomic Robo: Dogs of War, we got to see the titular hero fighting old fashioned Nazis. The second issue continues the story, as Robo is at the mercy of Otto Skorzeny (the bad guy) while American forces at Scoglitti Beach are being ambushed by Nazi soldiers in a new robotic armor that equates them to a walking tank. Neither Robo's nor the American forces' chances of survival look good.

A good chunk of the story is a fight between Robo and Nazi soldiers in the new armor. It's something of a departure from previous stories in that these soldiers give Robo a real run for his money. In fact, an entire day's worth of fighting yielded only five downed Nazi soliders in armor, while the American forces sustained numerous casualties. This is the first Robo story in which a real sense of threat is involved, since Robo's victories are hard-won and Pyrrhic at best. Though we know Robo himself survives since we've already seen him in future adventures, we easily get the sense that he still has quite a bit to lose during this period. He's not exactly the same Atomic Robo we see in the 1970s or 2000s, and it would hardly be surprising that the events of WWII helped shape that future Robo.

It's certainly well-played by writer Brian Clevinger. He really shows his craft here with some subtle nuances of character in Robo, coupled with expert handling of the reader's emotional connection to the story. It might be said, though, that the elegance displayed here is mainly from looking at the larger scheme of Atomic Robo stories, and a first time reader -- while they wouldn't be confused -- might not fully appreciate the delicacy of the storytelling.

Scott Wegener and Ronda Pattison continue to make an excellent art team. I mention Pattison specifically because, although only credited as the colorist, I think she steps up Wegener's game and really makes his linework shine. It's especially impressive in this issue, where she uses a fairly muted color palette but still manages to make everything "pop" exactly where it needs to. Kudos to both Scott and Ronda.

As another interesting contrast to the straight-up, old school slug fest in the issue, the back-up story features a contemporary Robo and his crew facing off against a giant Mummy-monster-thing-in-a-diaper. It provides a striking contrast to remind readers how verbose modern decompressed comics can be when, really, we all just want to see the bad guy get busted up. A quick, fun little tale that also provides a nice epilogue to volume 1's pyramid adventure.

Both tales, while tying nicely into Robo's admittedly brief continuity, also stand well on their own, and require little to no additional explanation. But, hey, if you really want to know, there's a few lines of introduction on the title page to get new readers up to speed. Really, though, a robot versus Nazis -- how much more explanation do you realistically need?

Atomic Robo: Dogs of War #2 comes out next week, and is highly recommended by this humble blogger.
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