Atomic Robo: Dogs of War #5 Review
It’s no surprise that Red 5 are gaining fans quickly. The relatively new publisher gets it. They get that comic fans want something refreshingly different. Atomic Robo has become Red 5’s mascot, in a sense, as the character has shown the world what comics used to be like – simple, fun and funny.
Each issue of Atomic Robo has a handy summary of what’s happened in the series before. Since my last experience with Robo was months ago, with the excellent Trade collecting the first series, I needed this primer. This second series, entitled Dogs of War is set entirely in WWII, whereas the first series was set in the present. Robo’s been around for a while, you see. In fact he was created almost a century ago by real life scientist Nikola Tesla and has been aiding the government against oddities and monstrosities ever since.
In this issue, he’s teamed up with the British Commandos to halt the advancing Nazis and their super weapons. Writer Brian Clevinger and artist Scott Weneger are on creative duties, as they were in the previous series. As the metal soldier leads a platoon on to the shores of Fermain Bay, the men come under fire, and the source reveals himself, a battle suited German knows as Skorzeny. As is common with this series (but not jarring) we cut back 10 hours earlier, where Robo is informing his British team of the weapon they’re targeting – the V-5 Electric Canon, which is a massive multi-rocket machine. Switching back to the “present” Robo is now Skorzeny’s captive, and in fact will be used by the Nazis to power the V-5. But just as all appears lost for our intrepid hero, in busts gun toting tough guy James Milligan to save the day. Milligan, or Scottie as he’s known to the Yanks, is a no-nonsense soldier who speaks in an amusingly almost-indecipherable accent.
This is another great issue for Robo. There’s enough action, foolish henchmen, crazy megalomaniacs and wit to counteract all the darkly complex fare that 2008 has given us from Marvel and DC. It reminded me of Star Wars too, which is never a bad thing. Nor is it a surprise, as the two founders, Paul Ens and Scott Chitwood, come from the Star Wars on-line world. Clevinger and Weneger work beautifully together. The writing moves smoothly and is full of character, while the art is cartoony without being simple. This is something parents could give to their kids without fear, after reading it themselves of course, as it’s brimming with exuberance.
Robo continues to present all the wit of Spider-Man under fire and doesn’t seem bothered by the strange shenanigans around him, including the temporary absence of his lower appendages. There is also a 4 page bonus story set in Madrid in 1974, where an ageing Skorzeny and an un-ageing Atomic Robo meet at a café. Also written by Clevinger, and with art by James Nguyen, it’s a more serious bookend to the main story. Skorzeny is now a dying cancer victim and claims that he killed Tesla, Robo’s creator, decades ago and stole his futuristic weapon designs. Robo doesn’t believe him and leaves him to suffer. Atomic Robo is a series that’s always been able to mix the outrageous aspects of a crime fighting robot, with the dark side of war and loss. Like TV’s Scrubs, it handles these opposites with a gentle hand that allows neither to seem out of place. After only launching last year, Red 5 look set to make their mark on the comic shelves, and I’m sure Atomic Robo will happily lead the way.
This issue will be released on Christmas Eve, but until then here’s an amusing Christmas card from Robo himself.