Saturday, May 31, 2014

Atomic Robo Goes West

Doc Holliday (top left panel) also appear in Atomic Robo: The Knights of the Golden Circle #1.
In the next 2-3 months, a number of the Western comic books that I have collected regularly for the past few years (Oni Press's The Sixth Gun , Dynamite Publishing's The Lone Ranger, DC Comics' All-Star Western to name three) will be concluding their current run. Fortunately, it would appear that another titles that I have occasionally dabbled with, Red 5 Comics' Atomic Robo, recently kicked off a five issue arc with a Western theme.

Atomic Robo strikes an iconic
Western pose... with poncho!
It was the Western hued pose of the title character on the cover (and a desire to show support of Western-themed comic books) that prompted me to once gain dip my toe in "The World's Greatest Science Adventure Magazine!".Created by writer Brian Clevinger and artist Scott Wegener, the series of Atomic Robo minis tell the adventure s of the eponymous main character who is a self-aware robot built by a fictional version of Nikola Tesla.

Atomic Robo and The Knights of the Atomic Circle #1 begins with our hero trapped back in 1884 Colorado, with a quickly expiring supply of nuclear fuel. When gunshots lead Atomic Robo to intervene on behalf of an elderly man, he finds himself setting off a turf war between notorious outlaws and a quiet Western town. Much like the Man With No Name (which the protagonist's outfit is clearly meant to reflect), Atomic Robo becomes the de facto leader of the town as he tries to protect them while escaping the wrath of the bad guys. There are broader plot points that contribute to Atomic Robo's larger story (apparently he or someone like him bearing the moniker Ironhide, has been "then" before), but past understanding of this greater story does not inhibit the enjoyment of the Western interlude.

As often happens in Western fiction, events transpire which place Atomic Robo in the path of far more familiar historical characters, in this case, go-to icon Doc Holliday. In addition to serving the purpose of recognizable historical figure for the reader, Holliday is also recognized by Atomic Robo, who is quick to recognize the necessity of adhering to the time honored time travel dictum of Star Trek, Sound of Thunder and Back to the Future: "Don't do anything. Preserve the timeline."

More than the start of a new adventure, the larger plot (and mystery) thickens!
While Atomic Robo and The Knights of the Atomic Circle #1 of  is primarily set-up for next issues confrontation between Atomic Robo's new acquaintances and Butcher Caldwell's gang, it remains a very entertaining all-ages read. As there is not much new ground covered here for the Western or science-fiction enthusiast, it is the clear affection and respect of Clevinger and Wegener  for both genres (and their character) that contribute greatly to the reader's enjoyment of the comic book. Best of all, in addition to having found a short-term Western to add to my pull list, I at the same time have happened upon a solid all-ages sci-fi title to both both follow and catch up with in my local comic shop's back issue bins.

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