Atomic Robo, Vol. 3

By | Wednesday, April 29, 2009 Leave a Comment
A couple weeks ago, I found myself outlining the basic plot of an episode of Doctor Who ("Gridlock") to the S.O. She started asking questions about it. "Why did they do that?" "What happened with this?" They were smart questions and ones that I couldn't answer. They were aspects of the story that were glossed over by the writers, and really didn't have solid explanations behind them. (To be fair to the writers, though, they weren't exactly major plot points either.) But it reminded me why I enjoy the show.

I grew up watching Tom Baker and Peter Davison Dr. Who episodes on my local PBS station. The special effects paled in comparison to the stuff I'd already seen in Star Wars and the plots weren't always the most cohesive. But it was the unmitigated brilliance and charm of the Doctor's character that drew me to the show.

It's on display again in the recent Easter special. A cat burglar steals the Cup of Athelstan right out from under several guards noses and hops on a bus to escape. While she's planning her next move, our titular hero pops in and happily introduces himself to the stranger, chatting and sharing a chocolate egg as if they'd known each other for years. Doctor Who, when it's done well, is filled with so much character that you can't help but become engaged with it.

At this point, you're thinking, "What the heck is he talking about Doctor Who for? The title of the post led me to believe that he was going to talk about the new installment of Atomic Robo that comes out today."

This volume of Atomic Robo starts a little differently than previous ones. Rather than battling giant insects or Nazis or whomever, Robo spends the entire issue sitting at home. He is interrupted by two gentlemen at the front door looking for Nik Tesla (the issue takes place in 1926, so he's not dead yet) and one of them, a man by the name of Charles Fort, spends much of the issue chatting with Robo. No explosions, no death rays, no chase scenes, just dialogue and exposition. But, like Doctor Who, the characters are such... well, characters that the story is still extremely engaging and enjoyable, and I was quite surprised when I got to the end of the issue that 20-some pages had just breezed by.

Also, somewhat like Doctor Who Robo encounters here celebrities of years past. Charles Fort I've already noted, but his companion is none other than Howard Lovecraft. We last encountered the two of them working together with Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Necronauts. Although Necronauts takes place several months after this story and really has no evident similarities other than Fort and Lovecraft appearing as characters. Indeed, the events in Necronauts are what supposedly drive Lovecraft to write his Cthulhu stories, but here we see his influences already on display.

I like what writer Brian Clevinger has been doing with Robo. I like that each of the volumes so far has had the same overall feel, but showing a slightly different take on the main character. Here, Robo is MUCH younger and clearly shows a different temperament than in previous stories. Although this is easily attributable to his radical differences in age/life experiences, I might point out (keeping with my theme) that it's also a bond he shares with the Doctor, whose personality takes on somewhat different characteristics depending on who is acting in the role.

I've made no qualms about the fact that I've really been enjoying Atomic Robo and have been looking forward to this latest volume. I'm certain that all existing fans are also eager to get a hold of this latest issue. If you're not yet a fan, I'm not sure what I could say to convince you that it's a great read other than, "READ THIS BOOK!" It's really fun and charming and entertaining and everything I look for in my entertainment. I know the economy makes trying new books harder for many of you, but the multiple volumes make plenty of great jumping-on points (this latest issue being one of them) and it is head-and-shoulders one of the consistently better comics I've read in years.
Newer Post Older Post Home