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Atomic Robo: The Temple Of Od #1: Next door neighbor to the Temple of Mo

Written by Writrzblok on Wednesday, August 24 2016 and posted in Reviews

Atomic Robo: The Temple Of Od #1: Next door neighbor to the Temple of Mo

If these guys start ripping out hearts and dropping folks in lava, I'm outta here.

Source: IDW Publishing

Written by Brian Clevinger

Art by Scott Wegener

Colored by Anthony Clark

Lettered by Jeff Powell

It's 1939 and Atomic Robo is sent by the U.S. government on an espionage mission to Shanghai in order to find Doctor Lu Huang, a missing quantum physicist who has developed an energy source theoretically considered "Zero-point." Such limitless power could be disastrous in the wrong hands, so Robo meets up with Chinese resistance fighters to the Japanese occupation. Along with Helen McAllister, Robo's old flame, the automated adventurer tries to sneak in and retrieve the scientist before he can develop vril weapons that could change the course of history forever. This, as it usually does, is met with some setbacks.

I've been a fan of Brian Clevinger's Atomic Robo ever since reading The Shadow From Beyond Time. It's like Hellboy but with a science-fiction, pulp-adventurer sensibility, that is both refreshing and entertaining to read. The stories harken back to the seminal sci-fi pulps of Doc Savage and hard science fiction like The Forever War. It shows that Clevinger likes to address scientific inaccuracies in science fiction tropes, like how Robo declares time travel to be impossible via Delorean due to the rotation of the Earth, its constant movement through space and orbit around the sun, and the expansion of the universe in general.

Atomic Robo: The Temple of Od #1 brings a brief, but still entertaining, opening story of Robo journeying through a field well outside of his wheelhouse when asked to engage in international espionage for the U.S. in Japan occupied Shanghai. While Robo tends to be a fish out of water mainly due to his appearance, it shows especially when he's in a country and culture he hasn't quite gotten a grasp of and on a mission that requires more subtlety than he is currently capable of. Despite all of it, he's still the best bot for the job. The scene in Shanghai brings back nostalgia of the opening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, minus the ever-shrieking Willie, that is.

Another aspect which is at the heart of the Atomic Robo series as well as this issue is how Robo reacts to the world around him, in particular his past relationship with Helen McAllister. It goes far, perhaps even further than his usual snarky banter, to humanize the mechanical main character and make his lot in life seem that much more isolating. You can feel the heartbreak when he realizes she's found someone new. That someone new being Chen Zhen, a leader in the Resistance to the Japanese occupying forces. I'm not sure if it's an homage to Bruce Lee, who played Chen Zhen in Fist of Fury or ironic call back (or forward) to when Robo learned Martial Arts from Bruce Lee himself. Either way it's an amusing addition to the story; though sadly, he's here only for exposition.

Scott Wegener's art, combined with Anthony Clark's colors continue to make a solid, easy to follow visual narrative. The bright, vibrant hues, used for not only Robo's speech, but for the energy of who appears to be the main antagonist for this series makes them distinct from everything else. The scenery comes together very well and makes for a pleasant palette of images to enjoy.

Atomic Robo: The Temple of Od #1 begins another interesting and adventurous tale of intrigue and super-science with laughs, thrills, and one snarky robot with a heart of gold and a head of titanium.


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About the Author - Writrzblok

Jeff Gwinnup/Writrzblok is a comic book-loving, movie-watching, mac-and-cheese devouring Florida-born nerd who would like to write for a living one day. That is, if the inanities and stress of modern living don't kill him first. He's been reviewing/critiquing in either print or video form for almost seven years and shows no signs of stop- Wait, why is he writing in the third person? Who's typing this? WHO IS THIS?! GET AWAY FROM THAT KEYBOARD!
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