I’ve sampled "Atomic Robo" adventures here and there, but mostly I’ve grabbed an issue somewhere in the middle of a longer story, which turns out to be a bit daunting. With the release of the first issue of “Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X,” Red 5 Comics offers another chance to start fresh with this critically adored property.
This issue starts off with a conversation between Robo and a compatriot named “Steve” regarding some tech that looks more than a little like an iPad. It’s a light introduction to the character and his concerns, but it sets up the impending calamity that requires the attention of Atomic Robo and his team on Tesladyne Island. There are more than a few characters here that flit in and out of the panels, tasked with preparatory jobs by Robo. This couples up with a secondary story that involves the disappearance of a building that divides Robo’s attention and forces him to call upon more supporting staff to help crack the case.
It’s a lot to take in, but I think it will sink in with another read, or maybe at worst with the continued story in the next issue (or even the one after that). The hero of the story – Robo – comes across as confident and determined, well-connected (no pun intended) and well-intentioned. Robo’s impulse to help the astronauts trapped aboard the Venture Orbiter puts his crew through a mental exercise that slows down the comic a bit, but in doing so offers a glimpse into the brain trust that Robo has surrounded himself with. In the end, however, Robo has to take matters into his own hands and heads into space to help the astronauts.
Brian Clevinger’s story is graced with lovely stylistic art from Scott Wegener. It's a perfect fit for this story, hovering somewhere between the styles of Geof Darrow, Craig Rousseau, and Rob Guillory. It’s an unorthodox look, but it works. Many of Wegener’s panels feel wide open, with the figures posed meticulously in the panel to maximize drama, interaction, and depth. Robo, himself, is one of the most emotive robots I’ve ever seen in comics, which is saying quite a bit, given that his expressions are limited to body language and a pair of ocular devices that replicate eyes akin to those of Bill the Cat.
Ronda Pattison’s colors and Jeff Powell’s lettering round out the visuals of this book, giving it an Image Comics vibe without being over-the-top. It’s not hard to imagine this story running as a strip in the Sunday comics, and the art team does a great job giving us a pleasant set of visuals to mull over.
This wasn’t the “big book” I intended to get and enjoy the heck out of this week. I’m not even sure I had this plotted out in my top ten for the week. Nonetheless, I bought it, read it, and enjoyed it. It's a nice change of pace in such a busy week.