In Review: Atomic Robo: Dawn of a New Era #5

A character is formally introduced to the team creating the "New Era" for this series.

The covers: The Regular cover has Alan, Ben, Margot, and Olivia posing for a selfie. Each character sums up their personality perfectly: Alan gives a nervous wave, Ben is Mister Goodtimes, Margot is way too into the photo, and Olivia is dragged into the picture taking. Fun cover from Scott Wegener that spotlights the “New Era” characters. I like the art, but the colors are so light the book looks as though it’s been sitting in the sun before it hit the shelves. There’s also a Variant cover that features Robo sitting at a table with a classic red and white pattern, holding a cup of joe that states World’s Greatest Robot. He’s wearing a sweater vest, shirt and tie that’s loose. He’s reading a paper and behind him is a refrigerator from the 50’s. The wallpaper is a faded yellow and gray of thick vertical stripes and a black and white photo of his friends hangs on the wall. All that’s missing is the theme from Ozzie and Harriet or My Three Sons. Great throwback to classic Americana from Wegener. Overall grades: Regular B and Variant A+

The story: Margot, Olivia, and Ben are discussing how Robo’s “son” Alan is going to fit in around them. Their conversation ends with Margo saying, “We’ll be a part of what the next robo becomes.” The veteran characters aren’t as optimistic, with Jenkins concluding, “It’s simple. Befriend Alan, but maintain vigilance. Destroy him if necessary.” Writer¬†Brian Clevinger then turns to Robo who’s helping Alan get dressed. He reveals something to Alan, information about the previous Alan, and why the others are so anxious when he appearrf. I like that Alan is innocent, asking all the right questions of his “dad” and asking Robo what the reader would ask. I particularly like the last panel on Page 5. The story then shifts to Bernard who is using his newfound abilities as the Phasewalker, though he’s let down when he learns he still has quite a way to go. However, his final panel of the issue shows that he may be progressing much faster than anyone assumed. Back at the Tesladyne Institute, Robo meets with the people who voice their opinions on Alan. To say they aren’t thrilled with his appearance is an understatement. Jenkins continues to warn Robo of impending danger from another source, but that thread is left dangling for a future series. When Alan is introduced to Margo, Alan, and Ben it’s a major moment, as this is the “Dawn of a New Era” that this series has been leading up to. Naturally, there are some speed bumps and they are very funny. This was a solid issue that sets up the characters for future adventures. Overall grade: A

The art: I love the combination of the industrial facilities and the lighter additions to the setting on the opening page by Scott Wegener. The patched up sofa and the face placed on a box make the scuffed up surroundings warm. Ben’s pose and clothes, especially his choice of footwear, add to the humanity of the imagery. The futuristic components of Tesladyne Institute increase at the top of the second page with an amazingly designed piece of technology. Jenkins continues to dominate every panel he’s in, with his broken face and bulky body having him always stand out. Pages 4 and 5 look as though they could be pulled from any family album as a father helps his son get ready for an event. Robo’s eyes are a good sign of the character’s emotional state as he speaks, while Alan’s is in posture. Very cool. And I love what Alan is wearing. The two pages involving Bernard are trippy, with the scientist doing things he shouldn’t be capable of and his companion looking wonderfully inhuman. The final panel on 7 is a herald of things to come in later adventures. The conversation on 8 – 11 is a neat back and forth between two characters, with one running hot. The three paged conversation that follows is also good, with the impatience of one individual obvious. And that’s one heck of an exit on 14, which even impresses the remaining character. 15 is the moment before the official reveal. It’s a neat way to show all the characters and their states before everything changes. I would fall under Margo’s spell if she smiled at me like that. The visual joke on page 19 is funny as is the reaction from a character. The book ends with another visual joke that’s also good. I enjoyed these visuals. Overall grade: A

The colors: This is a quiet story for Atomic Robo and the colors give it a very calm tone. Shannon Murphy opens the book with every possible shade of purple and pink to show the newbie’s quarters. I like how the veterans are surrounded in blues and grays, the colors of industrial materials. Jenkins’s skin is much paler than everyone else, making him an eye catcher and telling the reader he’s lucky to be alive. His red eye makes him visually futuristic, recalling Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic character. I really like the soothing light violets used to color the walls in the scenes between Robo and Alan. A turn of the page has darker violets used for the underworld, though pinks are used for crystals and their powers. I really like that one of the character’s dialogue balloons receives special coloring. These book’s colors are just so soothing. Overall grade: A

The letters: Jeff Powell is responsible for the scene settings, dialogue, Robo speech, Alan speech, and a closing sound. All are easy to read, with the sound a perfect match for the action that causes it to occur. The scene settings are stretched out letters that look as though they would fit in with the 1920’s or 30’s — they are retro-futuristic cool. The dialogue of the two robotic characters sets them apart from the humans. Robo’s is just slightly italicized, while Alan’s is more digital looking. This is a neat visual way to differentiate the pair from each other and to separate them from the others. Overall grade: A

The final line: A character is formally introduced to the team creating the “New Era” for this series. This is a quiet issue, featuring characters’ reactions to Alan’s creation and unveiling. There are sweet and angry reactions, but all are honest for each individual. Several plot threads are left dangling for future outings, and that’s fine. A change of pace for any series is good, and this story was very enjoyable. I would recommend this or any other Atomic Robo series to anyone seeking science fiction fun. Overall grade: A

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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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