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Robotika Vol. 2: For a Few Rubles More #1 (ADVANCE)

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Robotika Vol. 2: For a Few Rubles More #1 (ADVANCE)

Credits

  • Words: Alex Sheikman with David Moran
  • Art: Alex Sheikman
  • Inks: Alex Sheikman
  • Colors: Joel Chua
  • Story Title: For a Few Rubles More, Act 1
  • Price: $3.95

So, this up front:

For all of you who couldn’t stand the innovative and daring (but yes, quite difficult) eastern-style up-and-down dialogue of Volume 1, creator Alex Sheikman has listened to your relentless blather and changed it.  Gone, then, is the inventiveness and creativity of life, the universe, and art.  Retuned to us is sheer conventionality and comforting conformity.  No more will readers need to wrack their brains and strain their perceptions to translate letters moving in directions different from what they learned to follow when they were young and knew no better, better enough to complain and cry out: “This is difficult.  I can just follow the pictures, or talk, so why do I have to learn how to read?  I’m not doin’ it!”  Yes, three cheers for self-righteous complacency, for now we will never, ever have to learn anything new, not ever again!  Money talks and bulls&*t walks, and baby, comics need your money and so never fear, you will never have to suffer through anything besides pure customary conventionalities from this day forward!  Your funny books can forever be substandard and innovation-free!  Comics are easy, never—my God—difficult.

I hope, you little #&*ts, whoever you are (and you know who you are), that you’re happy.

Sheikman, ever the talented pro, finds a way to mark the change in lettering style as a plot point, if you can believe it, and even a character point.  He offers an actual explanation for why the sudden switch, allowing a moment of nudge-nudge wink-wink humor to enter into it, wryly commenting on the fan backlash at struggling oh-so-hard to decipher the first volume’s persistently unusual lettering M.O.  He takes the blame firmly on the cheek, so to speak (the disgruntlement is purely mine, I assure you), and then the real fun begins.

For a Few Rubles More names itself after the notion that, for this very paltry sum, our  heroes Niko (the Steampunk Samurai), Bronski, and Cherokee Geisha could have simply taken the train and spared themselves the ridiculous mountain of trouble they find themselves in instead.  Adopting a classic Yojimbo style situation, the trio travel through a small town torn by the warring interests of rival drug cartels, and here, they of course become embroiled.

For those new to Robotika , the story takes place within a dystopian future, laced with illicit robotics, mutations, and other logical post-apocalyptic fare.  It may seem a standard setting, but Shiekman—both in concept and design, and joined by scripter Dave Moran for this second outing—whips up a nearly alien landscape, matching the whimsy and sheer imagination of The Metabarons or The Fifth Element .  The characters are all modern cyberpunk gold, with personalities and existential noir dialogue that’d make Philip K. Dick one cheery dead man.  The story at the core of For a Few Rubles More isn’t an epic one, but it’s filled to the brim with fervent sci-fi madness, and antes up a cavalcade of villains that are lip-lickingly too cool for school.

Even beyond the story and its pieces are the full 32 pages of Alex Sheikman art, which, for anyone who checked out Volume 1, or anyone who checks out this new volume’s preview, will know is a gargantuan thing.  Imagine the smooth, crisp lines of Moebius melded with the thick, ubiquitous blacks of Kelly Jones, all arranged with the design sense of Leif Jones or J.H. Williams III.  His work is suitable for framing, each and every panel, obviously inspired by, or at least ultimately resulting in, an eastern fine art resemblance (holding hints of Japanese Ukiyo-e, for example, or hints of painting techniques stemming from the Muromachi to the Edo period, which is fitting, and perhaps only feels that way due to the subject matter).  For a Few Rubles More is his finest work yet: smooth, tight, and flowing.

This first issue includes a six-page back-up written by Moran with art by Sheikman, telling a tale of Bronski’s past.  It’s simple, well paced, an atmospheric little ditty, a perfect complement to the complex and multi-faceted main story.  All told, weighing in at 32 pages plus a pin-up, Robotika Volume 2 is shaping up to be a superior outing to Volume 1.  Cleaner, clearer, denser, and plastered with everyday word balloons (dammit), everyone who gave the first go-round a shot, and especially those who left it unfinished, should get more than ever out of this new beginning.  And anyone not on board yet?  This issue alone ought to keep your eyes glued open, watering until they can peep at the next issue’s art.

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For more info on Sheikman and Robotika, check out:

The author’s Myspace Page.

The author’s Blog.

The publisher’s Website

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