In Review: Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures #12
The cover: Nikola Tesla casually adjusts the device on his right hand that can produce an electrical blast. Behind him is one of the newfangled tanks he, and his group, are trying to keep out of revolutionaries’ hands. This is a great contrast between character and background. I love the look on Tesla’s face, almost indifferent. The tank is bulky beast of a machine that screams power. This is yet another great cover by Scott Wegener. Overall grade: A
The story: This is the final issue in this mini-series as Nikola Tesla and the Centurions of Science try to stop a “cabal of industrialists” from taking over the U.S. government. When last we saw our heroes, in this tale crafted by Brian Clevinger, they were handcuffed in a sewer that was being flooded by the villains. Harry Houdini has naturally freed them in time, and now knowing the villains’ plans it is easily stopped, but capture of the antagonists is not so easy. I really like how each character, Tesla, Houdini, Wong Kei-Ying, George Westinghouse, Annie Oakley, and Secret Agent Winfield Scott Lovecraft contribute in their own unique way to the climax, and what a climax it is! Very cinematic and very appropriate. It was though I was watching the ending to a major film. A more than satisfactory conclusion with a nice tease for a possible sequel that I would welcome any day! The back up story is a 4 page Atomic Robo tale, this one titled “The Getaway,” also by Clevinger. It’s a quick tale of Robo trying to apprehend two thugs who’ve stolen something. The plot isn’t much, but the dialogue from A.R. is fun. On top of this, there’s another 4 page back up, again by Clevinger, featuring a tale from Taravai Island in 1999, featuring my favorite Red 5 villain. The dialogue is everything I’d hoped for once I saw this baddie’s appearance. Each tale is a fun read. Overall grade: A
The art: Nice work from M.D. Penman, when I could see it, in the opening tale. I liked the look of all the leads, and Penman is able to put a nice of emotion into each character. I couldn’t tell you what I’m supposed to be looking at on Page 4–it’s a dark blob, and that goes ditto for Page 5′s panels two and four. I loved Westinghouse’s electrical outburst and Wong and Annie in action; Page 10 was my favorite of this story. A close second would be the bottom of Page 16 with the hilarious smiles and eyes. Nice work, when I could see it. The Atomic Robo story is by Joseph Dellagatta and it’s very stylized, looking somewhat similar of Mike Mignola’s work on Rocket Raccoon, and it works okay here. Better is the final story illustrated by Eric Allred. Funny action with a lot of characterization put into each individual. Overall grade: A-
The colors: The weakest link of this entire series has been the coloring by Erica Henderson who makes panels and pages indecipherable black blobs. It was wonderful when a face could be seen in the darkness, but only angered me when a nearby panel was hidden. Take the first page, what the heck is going on in the second panel? Or behind the character in the third? On in the fourth? The coloring is killing this. If this story had been set more often in the daylight, things would look better, but as they stand now they’re damaging this book’s viability as a marketable story. Rico Renzi does “The Getaway” and I love the coloring on this! Purples dominate for nighttime and they’re amazing. Someone give this man a full issue to color! No one is credited as colorist on the final four pages, so I’ll assume it’s artist Eric Allred and it looks great! This is how to color a dark interior! Sadly, I can’t give a high grade to 8 pages of back up stories. Overall grade: C-
The letters: Jeff Powell does all three tales and he’s dynamite on every page. Scene setting, narration, dialogue, and some sweet sound effects, especially on the Atomic Robo story. Well done, Mr. Powell. Overall grade: A+
The final line: I loved the story of Tesla and his band, but the colors continually hampered my enjoyment. The back ups are fun, but really short. Overall grade: B-
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years. He’s since moved to a high school where he’s taught 9th grade and currently teaches 10th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.