In Review: Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle #5

Adventure in the old West goes into steampunk overdrive with Atomic Robo involved.

The cover: Things don’t look hopeful for Atomic Robo in the past, as this issue’s cover by Scott Wegener and Anthony Clark show a graveyard with the focus on one grave sporting his name from the locals, “Ironhide.” There’s a clever pun about his death written on his tombstone, but I’ve cropped it out of the photo used in this review to not spoil it. This is a great way to show the possible fate of the hero and the setting in one illustration. Nicely done and leaves me anxious to find out what happens inside. Overall grade: A

The story: This is the final issue in this series and it’s a humdinger! Aboard the evil Baron Heinrich von Helsingard’s war zeppelin Basilisk, Doc Holliday, U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves and Atomic Robo are up against metallic cyborgs. Robo was knocked unconscious in the previous issue, but luckily he wakes to stop the automatons about to destroy him. There’s a lot of action as the heroes try to take out these warriors, and things don’t get any easier when a villain from the series appears to stop Robo. The action is exciting and the climax is explosive, to say the least. Brian Clevinger has written a really fun story that is completely unpredictable. What is really surprising are the final five pages. Something happens to one of the leads and how that “something” is dealt with is unique. The appearance of one character who’s popped up in other Red 5 Comics made me smile immensely and now I have to know what’s going to happen to Robo next! A fun read that would be a great entry point for new readers. Overall grade: A

The art: Fantastic steampunk action in the old west as cyborgs, a metallic zeppelin, and mighty Vrillium engines go against Atomic Robo of the 21st century. Scott Wegener’s art looks like cels from an animated film pulled out to tell a story in comic book format. Looking at the cyborgs attacking Holliday and Reeves just made me smile–their design is so simple, yet so fitting for the “futuristic” technology of 1884. I loved the puffs of smoke and debris that followed all the characters when they were being shot at or if something was blowing up. I love the design of Robo, who emotes through his eyes, which can narrow or enlarge. I also love the mustache on Reeves; that’s right, I said it, I enjoyed a male character’s facial hair–it’s just so darn cool looking. That sums the visuals of this book concisely–cool. Another cool element of this book was the villain’s hat. Much like that of Indiana Jones, it never came off and it just makes him look all the more wicked. The final page is a great progression of time and had me howling to see how Robo gets out of this mess. This book is a feast for the eyes. Overall grade: A

The colors: One of my most constant criticisms of Red 5 Comics is that the coloring is too dark. It might be thematically correct or appropriate for the time period, but if the colors are so dark that the art cannot be seen, it needs to be lightened. There are a few instances of the colors being too dark in this book. Things are going swell from Anthony Clark until the first panel on Page 7. The joints in the cyborg’s legs blend into the background too completely. It’s also too dark in the bottom panel. The background is too dark again at the top of 8 and in three panels on 9. Thankfully, these were the only instances of this occurring, and then Clark gets to brighten things up considerably starting on Page 13. This page and the next are gorgeous due to the bright colors. I just shake my head at why the dark colors are used so often. Overall grade: B

The letters: Jeff Powell is responsible for the fonts used for scene setting, dialogue, sounds, Robo’s speak, and the printed notices on the final page. They are all exceptionally clear, with the sounds being a hoot and half to read aloud. Overall grade: A

The final line: This was a fun conclusion to a fun series. Adventure in the old West goes into steampunk overdrive with Atomic Robo involved. Another fun outing from Red 5 Comics. Overall grade: A-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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