February 8, 2012

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Single Minded: Atomic Robo: Ghost of Station X #5

Look out, folks, it's time to get Single Minded again, this time with the climax to the latest story arc of one of the best comic books being made today, Atomic Robo!

Atomic Robo:  The Ghost of Station X #5.  Written by Brian Clevinger.  Illustrated by Scott Wegener.  Red Five Comics


What do you do when you're a robot on the run from just about every police body on earth and trying to stop a mysterious force that's out to kill you?  Mail yourself via freight, of course!  As Robo unpacks himself and gets ready for a fight that could mean life or death for Tesla's greatest creation, all the lose ends tie together on a small island with big implications.  Can Robo find a way to stop an artificial intelligence far greater than his own with designs on the stars?  Find out in the big finish to the Ghost of Station X!

I admit I really didn't know much about Atomic Robot until this past year's Free Comic Book Day.  I actually cannot believe I'd missed it, because I was falling out of my porch chair laughing at Robo's adventures almost from the very first page.  I'll have more to say about this in a series review post, but the short version is that this is one of the smartest, funniest, and clever comics out there right now.

For those not in the know, Robo is, as I mentioned above, the creation of Nikola Tesla, the inventor who was smarter than Edison but not as good at marketing.  (Hint:  The electricity you're using to read this on your computer is alternating current--a Tesla invention.)  He's keeping his father's legacy alive by running a corporation that deals with bleeding edge science--and the menaces that result from such theory.  Big, brawny, brainy, and brash, Robo echoes other cool creations that fight weirdness with attitude, like another favorite of mine, Hellboy.

In this story arc, Robo is hounded by forces unknown and labelled a terrorist in the bargain, and this issue is the big showdown between him and the villain of the piece, who remains a mystery until page four of the final issue of the mini-series.  That makes the impact huge, especially when we see that the antagonist could easily be Robo, had he traveled a different path in life.  It's a great culmination after plenty of guessing games, and I was extremely impressed that Clevinger makes this work without it feeling like it came out of left field.

I don't want to give too much away here, but what follows is a long theoretical battle of words between Robo and the villain, highlighting our atomic protagonist's humanity and strongly defining his character.  He may play at being sarcastic and flippant, but when push comes to shove, his commitment to making the world better never wavers, no matter what the odds or the temptations.

As you might expect from a series like this, the resolution involves science of a specious nature, but you're too busy marveling at how cool the whole thing is to care too much.  Wegener works like mad to keep the visuals interesting through the big explanations and his fighting scenes do a great job of showing the action and the practical futility of Robo's fight, right up to the very end.  I also love the way he can make Robo's face show emotion, mostly though the adjusting of his eyes and subtle body posturing.

It's a slightly darker Robo who ends this series, but I don't think that will last too long.  What I do know is that this continues to be an amazing series that you really should be reading if you aren't already.  If your comic shop doesn't carry Atomic Robo, you can get it on Comixology.  Don't make the same mistake I did of waiting--get started reading it right now!

Big thanks to Brian Clevinger and Red Five for giving me a preview copy of this issue!  If you are interested in having me review your comic, please get in touch at trebro@gmail.com.