Saturday, September 13, 2014

YALSA top ten GNs 2009: Atomic Robo and the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne

Atomic Robo (Volume 1): Atomic Robo and the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne
Written by Brian Clevinger. Illustrated by Scott Wegener.
Published by Red 5 Comics (2009)

Oh Atomic Robo! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
1. You are a robot
2. Your arch-nemesis is a time travelling velociraptor called Dr. Dinosaur
3. Your comic is awesome

But really if you're not interested in reading a comic about a robot who punches giant monsters in the face you should probably just give up on this review and find another comic. Atomic Robo is a great example of that genre (monster punching) and, while I love it, I know it's not for everyone.

The most basic description of Atomic Robo is "It's like Hellboy, but...", and it even mentions that in at least one of the introductions to this series (I read, or re-read, the first seven volumes recently and they call kind of blur together a little). So yes, the series is reminiscent of Hellboy in that a non-human guy travels the world and fights lots of monsters and Nazis (for decades, so the stories can happen pretty much whenever). But saying that is kind of a disservice to Atomic Robo, as it goes places that Hellboy doesn't.

Firstly, Atomic Robo is a scientist! He does science! (Frequently this leads to things exploding.) Second, there is time travel! Third, it uses its humour in a more obvious way.

This third one is probably the most obvious difference. Hellboy certainly has its funny parts, but Atomic Robo is much willing to do utterly bizarre things because it's humourous. This isn't to say that the stories can't have serious parts, but I think you're more likely to see Robo sneaking out from Nikolai Tesla's lab so he can go on a date or judging a science fair.

The art by Scott Wegener is not something that I would immediately think was great, and if you just showed me specific panels I might think it was a little bizarre looking.  But his designs work well for the characters, and his style works overall for the types of stories that are told.

Of course while I think Atomic Robo is great, you don't have to take my word for it. There are a bunch of free Atomic Robo comics on the website. I think the best is "Why Atomic Robo Hates Dr. Dinosaur", but they're all pretty good.

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