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Graphic Novels Reviews

Atomic Robo: Dogs of War

Writer: Brian Clevinger
Artist: Scott Wegener
Publisher: Red 5 Comics
Two stars

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Satyajit Chetri May 20, 2009
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Evidently somebody thought that if you had a robot ”“ an atomic robot designed by Nikola Tesla, the scientist to name-drop if you want a corny early-twentieth century invention ”“ and dropped him in the middle of World War II, it would make for a cool comic. Well, except for the 78 other titles that are all about witty, armour-punching protagonists fighting evil Nazis (including Mignola’s Hellboy, DC’s 70s creation The Creature Commandoes, and many many many more).

To be fair, writer Brian Clevinger does keep things moving at a fairly fast pace. There are the familiar tricks of a creator who wants to go beyond writing vacuous fist-fights ”“ occasional non-linear opening scenes leading to a flashback that shows us how we reached the opening sequence in question, introducing another fast-talking character that acts as a foil for our protagonist ( British spy code-named The Sparrow, red-headed dame), expendable grunts indulging in Tarantino-esque banter, hair-breadth escape sequences, smooth-talking German soldier-scientists ”“ you could almost predict how the beats play out in this 5-issue series as the Atomic Robot fights Nazi technology in the form of other pop-culture-worthy beings like Laufpanzers (basically mega-gigantic tanks), zombie super-soldier brutes and weather cannons. Occasional respite comes from some genuinely funny moments ”“ the captured robot, sans legs, is rescued by a foul-mouthed Scot with an accent that could give Sean Connery a complex. Scott Wegener’s art is cartoonish enough to give Atomic Robo’s world the kind of flippant cutesiness that prevents you from taking any of it too seriously. It does say something for the storytelling when the backup pieces ”“ 3-4 page vignettes drawn by various artists ”“ are more entertaining than the main storyline.

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