Atomic Robo Volume 1: Atomic Robo & the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne covers the first six issues of the Atomic Robo comic. Only the final two issues are connected as part of a story. The rest just have the main character in common. You would think that’d make it an easy book to put down. You would be wrong. This book is full of bombastic, explosive action, wry, sarcastic humor and some of the best pseudo-science ever published.
The premise of this series is simple, but appealing. There’s a robot and his action scientists. They stop weird problems and save the world. The book opens with the classic sci-fi scene of a robot built by Nikola Tesla stopping an evil Nazi scientist from ascending to godhood. We go from there to sixty foot-long ants, a living Egyptian pyramid, a flashback to a jaunt to Mars in the 1970’s and then harken back to the first issue with a double issue arc in which the robot fights the revived, mecha-piloting, brain of the Nazi scientist from the first issue. It all ends with a suitably ominous, yet enticing, cliffhanger. The middle of the book provides a nice break from the action, focusing on the snark and featuring cameos from both Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking (the latter in a surprisingly antagonistic role).
The book has wonderfully bright art, with strong lines and vivid colors. That said, it falls down a little when you try to look at any background character and realize it/he/she doesn’t have much of a face. However the main character manages to make up for this. He also lacks any facial features (being a robot and all), yet he still manages to emote strongly, which shows the masterful subtleties in the art. The scenery is also great, managing to convey a strong sense of atmosphere.
This book is pure, clean, high-energy fun. It features strong writing and art with tons of laugh-out-loud humor. The world-building is especially solid, given the short story arcs involved. I’ve yet to meet someone who’s read it and didn’t love it. It’s 180 pages of solid, whimsical, robotic mayhem that feels like an old-time pulp magazine with a modern spin. It’s great fun that’ll leave you wanting more.