So there are two cops, right? Well it turns out one of them is robot. Which one? We don't know, they don't know, hell, even the chief doesn't know. But who the robot is doesn't really matter in the greater scheme of things. What matters is that these two cops, Jeff and Matt, are buddy cops on a mission to figure out just how far the real mystery goes. What's the real mystery? That's not really that important either. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
David Quantick and Shaky Kane bring the fun in That's Because You're a Robot, a one-shot issue about two cops who work the beat in future Los Angeles. One of them is a robot, it's just nobody knows which one. Together Quantick and Kane have created a world that is both familiar and surprising. They rely pretty heavily on tropes of several different genre, but it doesn't feel like a crutch. The story is very much a buddy cop comedy with traces of Blade Runner. But what shines through all of that is a story that claims to be about robots but is actually about friendship and justice. This isn't a great sweeping sci-fi epic that promises to make you question your own humanity in the face of advancing technology. But then again, it also never claims to be.
Quantick's writing is quick and sharp. The characters, especially Jeff and Matt, feel like two friends who also just happen to be cops. They rib each other about the other being the robot, but it never feels malicious. There are times where the dialogue feels a bit forced (mostly when coming from the Chief) but then it also makes it feel that much more like a cheesy action flick. It's very clear that Quantick is aware of the ground he's treading. Though he doesn't do anything that totally flips the traditions on their ear, he still creates a fun sci-fi story. And then there's the humor. For a story about questioning one's humanity, it never really takes itself too seriously. From the hard as nails police chief to the perp who isn't what he seems, the characters all play recognizable but humorous roles. This tongue-in-cheek approach creates an atmosphere of optimism and that is something that is sorely underused in futuristic sci-fi.
The art by Kane is great and perfect for the story, but it's a little bit of a let down. Not to say that it's bad in any sense. The Ager is a super cool idea for a character, and Kane does a super job portraying him, especially at the end. The character designs are unique and fun. From the Stooges to the random people on the street, everyone has a sense of personality. The police uniforms are great. They look like a mix between Captain America and Judge Dredd on a budget. Though there isn't much action, when there is Kane does a solid job of portraying it. The explosion of the police station is a great example of kinetic motion in a mostly static comic. The lacking comes from the larger shots of the city. It feels like there should be so much more detail in the background. Sure, there's some graffiti here and there and the odd billboard or two, but these details just leave me wanting more. The splash pages are where we get the most information in the backgrounds, but it just doesn't feel like enough (Except maybe the three, two-page spreads of The Stooges, those are awesome).
Other than the lack of background noise, my only real complaint is that the story really doesn't feel like a one-shot. Sure, it ends on a high note and if this was the last we saw of Jeff and Matt, I'd be content. But it's not the last I want to see of them. I want to see them take on the conspiracy and The Stooges and those two Fenris looking dirty cops. Quantick and Kane have created a cool little world in this one issue and it leaves me wanting more. Overall, That's Because You're a Robot is a great little spurt of sci-fi humor that finds it's place nestled in between many works like it. But it's also great fun that has promise of a future. Whether or not that future comes to be, it's a great read on it's own.