Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific
Written by Brian Clevinger
Drawn by Scott Wegener
Published by Red 5 Comics
Atomic Robo is one of the best kept secrets in modern comics, which is oddly appropriate as it’s a book all about the secret history, and science, of the last 80 years.
Robo, created by Nikola Tesla in 1923, is part of Tesladyne Industries and their team of “Action Scientists”, men and women who are tasked with investigating the supernatural, paranormal and technologically bizarre. Which, let’s face it, is a pretty appropriate job for a humanoid robot called Atomic Robo to be doing.
Previous series have seen Robo dispatched by NASA to assist an ailing space station, battle Lovecraftian terrors, punch mechanoid tanks during World War II and generally make himself useful as part of the same battalion of pulp adventurers that Hellboy, Rick and Evie O’Connell and Indiana Jones are all part of. He’s a two-fisted, perpetually – and endearingly – confused hero and impossibly likable as a result.
Aside from Robo himself, the series has two massive things going for it. The first is Clevinger and Wegener, who perfectly combine pulp invention and some great one liners with some of the cleanest, most distinctive art being produced today. The first sequence in this story features a three-way battle between Foo Fighters (not the band), a group of jetpack-wearing soldiers and Robo in a plane, and it’s as easy to follow and exciting as it is vast and ambitious. Wegener has a fantastic eye for character and panel layout and, combined with Clevinger’s funny, smart scripts, that makes this book an absolute gem to read. The central idea here; that the Pacific, post-World War II, was a wild west-like place filled with cargo cults and feudal groups of soldiers scrabbling to make a new life for themselves, is both fascinating and fascinatingly created, and the She-Devils in particular are a well-realised, very unconventional supporting cast. Balancing moments of beauty with flat out action, humour and character, this is a supremely assured and confident first issue.
The other thing the series has going for it is exactly how accessible it is. Don’t be put off by this being the seventh mini-series, Clevinger and Wegener have carefully designed Atomic Robo to be as accessible as possible. Every mini-series acts as an introduction to the world as well as a story in it’s own right, so if you’ve never met Robo before, this is as good a place as any to start. Better in fact, after all, everything’s better with jetpacks.
Most of all though, this is fun. If you want a comic that’s smart, funny, massively energetic and zips along without making you feel short-changed, this is for you. No angst, no reboots, just Flying She-Devils, the new Wild West and one of the most endearing heroes working in comics today. What’s not to love?