We all have those comics that people keep recommending to us, but that we never quite get around to. They sit perpetually on some to-read-someday list in our heads or, if you’re a bit more organized than I am, maybe on some actual, real list with words and everything. Occasionally, we even get around to crossing something off that list, if we’re lucky.
Atomic Robo has existed in the purgatory of being at the very top of my to-read-someday-when-I-get-around-to-it-I-guess list for a good five years now. The more there is to catch up on, the more unlikely it seems that I’ll ever commit to getting started, knowing the size of the task I’d be undertaking. How would I even know where to start? Especially in the case of a series like Atomic Robo, which has always existed as a successive, limited series rather than a single, clearly-numbered ongoing.
Fortunately for me, The Everything Explodes Collection has arrived to solve my problems. It collects the first three volumes of Atomic Robo into one handsome paperback, providing the perfect jumping-on point for the Eisner-nominated adventures of the eponymous action-sciencing robot. As a newcomer to the series, the size of the collection proved fortuitous, because Atomic Robo always left me wanting another page to turn.
Atomic Robo, written by Brian Clevinger and with art by Scott Wegener, chronicles the continuing adventures of Robo, a robot with “automatic intelligence” created by Nikola Tesla. While Robo was presumably created to carry on Tesla’s legacy of scientific achievement, his propensity for punching and his nigh-indestructability lead him to a life of world-saving. It’s pure pulp, where cool and crazy things are possible because of technobabble, punctuated by Robo’s implacable witticism and self-aware sarcasm.
Robo’s adventures are a wild and hilarious ride throughout the 20th century, when he punched Nazi war machines and thwarted Soviet scientists, and spilling over to the present day, when he leads a team of Action Scientists who investigate the strange and paranormal. This volume does a lot of jumping around in time as a consequence, but that’s part of its charm; one moment Robo is traveling to Mars at the behest of Carl Sagan, the next he’s fighting a death ray-equipped pyramid in Egypt, the next he’s meeting HP Lovecraft on the eve of a world-threatening disaster from beyond this universe.
In short, Atomic Robo is a fun, funny, feel-good action adventure comic starring a wisecracking robot who fights Nazis and giant bugs and stuff, and this collection has hundreds of pages of that happening. What more needs to be said?