Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Review - Atomic Robo: Spectre of Tomorrow #1 (@IDWPublishing)


"Not this one. HOA business. Robo's eyes only."

Atomic Robo is a talented and capable robot who really knows no bounds. He can create artificial intelligence and he can run a sophisticated team of engineers and scientists, but for some reason he can't keep the noise down. In Atomic Robo: Spectre of Tomorrow #1 from IDW Publishing the latter proves to be the most alarming of his problems. The issue is written by Brian Clevinger, illustrated by Scott Wegener, colored by Anthony Clark and lettered by Jeff Powell.

Remember those carefree days when the world was only imperiled by things like giant mutants from the sea or the occasional mad scientist dinosaur? Now it’s 2017 and everything’s horrible all the time! But that’s why Atomic Robo is setting up the new Tesladyne Institute in the badlands of New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto desert with Sir Richard Branson’s Spaceport on one side and Elon Musk’s Solar Farm on the other. With neighbors like these, who needs to uncover an insidious plot that threatens the lives of everyone in the world?

Books in the Atomic Robo series have always leveraged history in some way for a sense of science humor and Clevinger doesn't change that approach in Atomic Robo: Spectre of Tomorrow #1. Most of the issue is funneled through the eyes of Foley as she returns from a solo mission to Oregon and the dialogue both gets her up to speed (somewhat) and relays the tedium she's missed. Clevinger's approach is pretty sound in that it allows the monotony of something as trivial as a violation of a Homeowner's Association to carry the entirety of the issue. It's a very humorous way to get the reader back into the Atomic Robo universe and Clevinger ensures that just about anyone can readily relate (on at least some level) to what's going on. There's also a smaller sideplot that rounds out the issue that allows Clevinger to establish a direction for the plot to move forward.

Wegener's artwork maintains its signature look when it comes to Atomic Robo and his cohorts. Characters are illustrated with an emphasis on thick, bold outlines that give them an immense presence against the contrastingly thin-lined backgrounds. Wegener infuses the renders with something of a blockiness that further embellishes the physical presence of all the characters, allowing Atomic Robo to look thick in a suit and emphasizing the squareness of Richard Branson's jaw for instance. The extremely clean panel layouts and empty gutters keep the visuals organized and tidy. Clark's colors are an array of light colors and dark colors, all of which come together pretty harmoniously to make the book feel vivid.

Atomic Robo: Spectre of Tomorrow #1 is an exercise in adding a dose of science to what is likely a lot of people's reality. Foley returns expecting a more exciting day at the office, but as many will attest the excitement is often accompanied by an abundance of paperwork. Clevinger's script is fast-moving and spends most of its time getting the reader reacquainted with the primary players. Wegener's artwork is reliable and familiar, carrying the emotions through multiple panels. Atomic Robo: Spectre of Tomorrow #1 is a pretty harmless first issue that gives Atomic Robo Branson and Elon Musk as neighbors and runs with it.

Atomic Robo: Spectre of Tomorrow #1 is available now.

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