Art by Tony Suleri
Published by Scar Comics – £5.99
Entropy catches us. Sometimes it’s old age, sometimes it’s straight out death and some times its obsolescence. Welcome to Beta Town, a robot township founded on obsolescence. This is where your robots go when they’re too old, or battered, or outdated, or mad. It’s a boneyard with CPUs and internet access, a place where machines that don’t matter go to wait to die. But, like human towns, it needs order, and that’s where Sheriff comes in. As battered and outdated as his charges, Sheriff is the moral authority and final word in the town. Until a naked, injured woman with a hole in her forehead walks through the centre of town..
Benjamin Dickinson’s script sits halfway between a western and noir, and it manages to touch on all the best elements of both. Sheriff is a Gary Cooper-esque figure, old, battered and still with a strong enough sense of right and wrong to know that if he doesn’t stand up for these robots, no one else will. He’s also, interestingly very angry. Sheriff knows he’s the king of a Scrapheap and he knows no one cares about his town. So, when the Alphas, the cutting edge upper caste of robots come hunting for the woman, it’s all the excuse Sheriff needs. What ensues is full-on heavy metal class war.
Tony Suleri’s art will probably throw you off at first. Stick with it. His work resembles Geoff Darrow’s hyper-detailed lines but with a rounded, painterly edge that takes a little while to adjust to. When you do, you’ll find a story filled with character and emotion and some beautiful, and brutal, action sequences. Dickinson has built some nice action movie moments into the script, and Suleri makes each of them sing, including a fantastic fight between Sheriff and the Alphas and a horrifying battle with a demented, over-sized construction robot. His character work excels too, giving Sheriff the stolid, dependable look he needs and cleverly making the Alphas rounded, perfect and identical. This is artist and writer pulling in the same direction and building on each other’s work and it’s a joy to read.
Slumdroid Volume 01 is a simmering, tension-riddled story with a great central character and an intriguing world in Beta Town. This is fast, burly science fiction of a sort any 2000AD fan will be familiar with and any 2000AD fan should pay attention to. So, go visit Beta Town. Just don’t start any trouble…
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