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Trading Up: Atomic Robo Vol. 3

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Atomic Robo and the Shadow from Beyond Time is pure comic atomics. The right blend of talent leads to one of the best books on the shelves. Telsa would have been proud.

I can’t get enough of Atomic Robo. That, and I tend to ramble when I get excited about something. So, set forth below is, I’m afraid, a lot of nonsensical rambling about a comic series I just happen to enjoy immensely. You see, there are few things guaranteed in life, even fewer in comics. But one of those things is the sheer excellence of Atomic Robo.

Since its birth in 2007, I’ve enjoyed Robo’s exploits, each one cleverer, and charmingly outrageous than the previous. When I read the comics, I like to read one issue after another—I don’t like to be interrupted. Mainly, I don’t like being interrupted when reading Robo. But I’m also lazy.

So, when I picked up the third volume, Atomic Robo and the Shadow from beyond Time, I devoured it over two days. I had picked up a handful of other comics, but those whould have to wait. I was all about Robo. As and aside, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Robo’s designer and letterist extraordinaire Jeff Powell for a little over a year now; and after I read the third book, I wrote him the following:

"Yeah, I picked up Atomic Robo vol 3...you guys are magic. I think I'm a lifer...everything just sings perfectly...from the art to the dialogue, and the design to the colors. Just perfect, really. H.P. Lovecraft was INSANE to read--just great, seriously."

You can tell how excited I was about the book with how discombobulated my email to Jeff was. But, I meant every word, damnit. Atomic Robo, for me, is a book that always delivers--ALWAYS.  And its one of the few books on the shelves nowadays that I recommend. Because it demands attention. The comedic timing is brilliant, the characters are loved by their creators, and the ideas are always fresh.

Take for instance this volume, The Shadow from Beyond Time. Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener decided that Lovercraft’s ubiquitous Cthulu would be the main threat within the five issue run. Now, being powered by atomics means Robo has lived a long time. So, from the 20s to present day, we get different encounters (along with different iterations) of Cthulu. In issue one—and this is the type of pure gold that makes me laugh out loud, and subsequently confirms my mental state to my wife—H.P.LOVECRAFT IS CTHULU.

But here’s the hilarity: imagine Lovecraft’s teeny, tiny body attached to Cthulu, upside down and wobbly, and causing all sorts of hell in NYC. Clevinger and Wegener shine in these types of moments, this, ah, slapstick storytelling. Oh, and I forgot—before he turns into Cthulu, Lovecraft is not so shy about his abhorrence of minorities (there’s one part where refers to Robo as a pygmy). And this is just issues one and two. Three, four, and five are all equally brilliant.

It doesn’t just stop at far-fetched, endearing plots. The creative team is the real magic behind Robo. It’s pretty clear I hold them in high esteem—as I do any creative team that shows how well they work together—what with Clevinger’s words and witticisms and clever plots, Wegener’s sharp lines, and believable characters, Ronda Pattison’s mastery of the color palette, and Jeff Powell’s understanding of word placement, fonts, and spot-on design.

Fun fact: without all these things in place, you do not get the type of product you see in such books as Atomic Robo, and therefore you just might be wasting your money.

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