Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What I Bought 3/14/2014 - Part 1

It's the first review of actual comics released in 2014! And we're only halfway through the third month of the year! How timely, if judged by the standards of the 18th century, anyway. You say my jubilation should perhaps be mitigated because I'm starting with a book that was supposed to come out in 2013, but slid into the current year? No matter. Such fickle trade winds shall not daunt the steely will of this ship's captain, and what the hell am I talking about? I knew reading that book about Poe was going to be a mistake.

Atomic Robo: Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #5, by Brian Clevinger (words), Scott Wegener (art), Nick Filardi (colors), Jeff Powell (letters) - Taking away Dr. Dinosaur's pupils makes him look less demented, more murderous. Then again, is there any character that doesn't look more dangerous sans pupils?

Dr. Dinosaur's Time Bomb is about to go off, rewriting history so that humanity never existed. Bernard and the others have succeeded in freeing the other Magma people from Dr. D's control, which is nice, but not terribly useful since it still doesn't give Robo a clear enough path to the bomb. Then the giant magma worm emerges, lifting them all up out of the crater/mountain. Robo is able to fling his people clear to a nearby chopper, and Dr. D escapes on a Hollow earth pterosaur, but Robo gets blown up by the Time Bomb. Or blown out. Backwards? Something. It appears he shouldn't have scoffed at Dr. Dinosaur's claims of tachyons and such because he's been thrown at least a few hundred years back, maybe a thousand or so. Judging by the last pages, he's in a desert, there appear to be some Native Americans, but they have horses. So that would mean it has to be after Europeans reach the continent, correct? Or was it just certain parts of North and South America didn't have horses?

Back at Tesladyne, the Majestic-12 guys are feeling pretty cocky. They've caught 97% of the staff, and more importantly, managed to subdue Jenkins. Which lasts for exactly as long as it takes Anath and George to hack into the powered suits being used to guard him and shut them down. Then Jenkins finds himself in a standoff with the Majestic-12 leader, and appears to blow himself and many of the bad guys up with a carefully placed shot. The explosion would have been a lot more impressive if Robo hadn't gotten a much larger panel for his explosion two pages earlier.

This is a bit new for a Robo mini-series in that it leaves things unresolved. Dr. Dinosaur escaped, though that's nothing new. We don't know what the situation at Tesladyne is after Jenkins' actions. Presumably Majestic-12 still has most of the compound under their control, unless they were so terrified of Jenkins they brought everyone to re-re-capture him. Which I can't rule out. And Robo is lost who knows where.

Going in, I had wondered if Dr. Dinosaur would hold up as a villain for an entire mini-series, since he'd been confined to single issues, or even part of an issue previously. His shtick of saying wildly idiotic things is hilarious, but one could reasonably worry about it being run into the ground. So Wegener and Clevinger made a smart move in not keeping it solely focused on him. They devoted close to half of this mini-series to the Majestic-12 plot, and even for the half set in Hollow Earth, they had a subplot about Bernard and the other scientists separated from Robo, getting caught up in the quest to free the Magma people. I can't decide if that good bye scene between Bernard and his "wife" is sad or hilarious. He's obviously very sad, but the fact his bride has no facial expressions (or face) that I can discern, plus the obvious point that Hollow Earth is a landscape inhospitable for humans makes it kind of silly. I settled on feeling bad for him, while being glad he had level-headed friends to look after him.

I like the sound effect lettering, though I don't know whether credit for that goes to Wegener or Powell. I especially like the shaky effect used for some of them, such as the "RRRRRRRRRUMBLE" on page 11, or the "VMMMM" on page 18. By shaky effect I mean there are two outlines for the each letter, so that it looks like it's moving back and forth rapidly. It's a nice representation of the sort of sound you'd feel as much or more than hear. And they did them in slightly different ways, since the first one is two slightly different colored outlines, and the second one there's the outline of the letters, and then the color that's supposed to fill it in is not lined up precisely. So it leaves part of the outline uncovered, and goes outside the lines elsewhere.

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