Nowadays the news from comics usually concerns the latest reboot or the newest major character death that’ll get undone a month later. It’s tough to find a good comic that you’d be interested in, let alone okay with introducing to your kids. It’s about time that I introduced frustrated comic readers to my favorite comic, Atomic Robo. Created by writer Brian Clevinger and artist Scott Wegener, it was published by Red 5 comics in late 2007, and nominated for an Eisner award the following year.
In the world of this comic, Atomic Robo was built by none other than Nikola Tesla in 1923, and has dedicated his existence to following his father’s love of super science. Robo and his “Action Scientists” comprise Tesladyne Industries, a force of good that travels the world combatting giant ants, mobile pyramids, and shadowy government organizations. The story is told non-sequentially, with the first volume jumping around in time from 1938 to the modern age. The second volume occurs exclusively in World War II. Clevinger and Wegener use Robo’s robotic immortality to tell stories that span multiple generations, sometimes with an equally immortal Nazi scientist and sometimes a Lovecraftian horror from outside of time.
However, that explanation totally misses the mark on what truly makes Atomic Robo resonate with readers. It’s a hilarious comic that riffs on the very super science in which it is framed. My favorite example is their Free Comic Book Day entry from 2009, “Why Atomic Robo Hates Dr. Dinosaur.” In it, Robo argues with a talking raptor named Dr. Dinosaur about the feasibility of time travel and Dr. Dinosaur’s dubious backstory. And crystals. Always with the crystals. The trope of Robo arguing against the impossibility of the science behind his foes is a recurring and consistently comedic one. The brilliant writing is accented with Wegener’s perfect art. His unique style always delivers; whether he’s designing a maniacal dinosaur, an undead Thomas Edison, or a kaiju, the art is always on point.
Despite having super science violence, Atomic Robo is always kid friendly. There’s zero profanity, gore, or anything else that would likely be seen as offensive. But don’t take my word for it: fellow GeekDad Dave Banks talked about Atomic Robo a few years back in a Premiere Edition of the GeekDad Stack, where he showcased the first issue of “Volume III: Shadow Beyond Time” with an “unspeakably high GeekDad Stack score of 9/10.”
In January of this year, Atomic Robo launched its own Patreon, along with leaving their publisher to become a web comic. They’re currently in the process of uploading their back catalog, a few issues a week, and just started uploading one of my favorite volumes, “Volume V: The Ghost of Station X.”