Thursday, March 24, 2016

Review - Circuit Breaker #1 (@ImageComics)


"...the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!"

Robots are becoming more and more regular in our daily lives. They do everything from help us clean to drive us around--jobs that were traditionally done by humans. If gets to a point where more jobs are being replaced by robots there might be a revolt, as is the case in Circuit Breaker #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Kevin McCarthy, illustrated by Kyle Baker and featuring coloring and letter assists by Mindy Steffen.

When the heroic robots that saved Japan during World War IV are outlawed, they turn against mankind, waging a campaign of terror across the last city on Earth. Their creator builds one more soldier-disguised as his teenaged granddaughter-and tasks her with dismantling the marauding mechanical militia. But as she begins to question her programming, will she be the last hope for humanity, or the final nail in our coffin?

The concept of the rise of the machines isn't exactly new (and the Terminator franchise has definitely played that card to the ground), but Circuit Breaker #1 takes a different approach. In it, McCarthy has humanity turning against robots but basically winning, as they've eschewed the convenience that came with their presence because of their growing disdain for their abilities to replace them. It's an interesting take on the conundrum in that McCarthy takes it in a different direction--in Circuit Breaker #1, humanity has the capability of stopping any robotic uprising. Much of the history in the issue is presented through the eyes of a pretty unique protagonist as well, which keeps the pacing snappy and moving. McCarthy even manages to throw in some mysticism in the issue as well, promising to blend together seemingly disparate themes in ways that a manga typically would.

The airy artwork by Baker is adds some levity to what could otherwise be a pretty dire tale. All of the characters are illustrated with anime sensibilities about them that further grounds the book in the Japan setting, successfully blending together humans who look like caricatures of humanity with robots that are menacing in an endearing way. The panels are laid out in a very defined fashion that helps the reader keep up with the action. Many of those panels effectively capture the action well, with robots throwing punches and characters jumping through broken windows. The colors remind the reader of an episode of Powerpuff Girls in their brightness for the most part, with characters standing out against starkly colored backgrounds.

Circuit Breaker #1 is a pretty fun first issue that plays on a lot of robot versus humanity themes. The characters are all generally pretty likable and make the reader more enjoyable because of that fact. McCarthy uses the book to make a subtle jab at the westernization of other cultures, but it's done in a way that doesn't feel overtly preachy. Baker's illustrations are light and clean, blending together traditional anime style characters with a newspaper strip mentality. Circuit Breaker #1 is a lot of fun and delves into more mature themes without bludgeoning the reader over the head with such sentiments.

Circuit Breaker #1 is in stores now.

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