Four Color Critiques: Atomic Robo, Jersey Gods

Four Color Critiques: Atomic Robo, Jersey Gods

May 13

It feels like it’s been awhile since I’ve actually blogged about comics. This week’s delivery from Heavyink is probably a good excuse to get back on that horse.

I got two books in the mail this week: the first issue of the new Atomic Robo mini and the fourth issue of Jersey Gods. It’s rare that all of the books I read in one sitting make me this happy.

If you aren’t reading either of these books, I really gotta recommend that you check them out.

Atomic Robo and the Shadow From Beyond Time #1: This installment of Robo (from 8 Bit Theater scribe Brian Clevenger and Scott Wegener) takes place in the 20s and pits Robo, Charles Fort and H.P. Lovecraft against things that are best described as…squamous. Clevenger’s wry comic timing distracts from the bulk of this issue consisting of talking expository heads as Fort tries to enlist Tesla’s (and then Robo’s) help while Robo tries to get rid of the two writers so he can study. Wegener manages to make a character with no facial features exude attitude, which is no small feat. The new Atomic Robo isn’t as laugh out loud ridiculous (in a good way) as the Free Comic Book Day “Atomic Robo Hates Dr. Dinosaur” story, but it’s well-crafted, fun entertainment that is even better if you’re already a fan of the Cthulu mythos.

Jersey Gods #1-4: I managed to snag the first issue of this Image title at NYCC this year and, just like Helen Killer surprised me last year, this year Gods was the book that I kept passing around to friends and forcing them to read. I probably should have had the issue slabbed and graded immediately, since Glen Brunswick and Dan McDaid signed it, but I guess I fail at investicomics.

Jersey Gods is certainly similar to Joe Casey’s Gødland, a book that is maybe Casey’s best work but still a book that I am a bit lukewarm about. Both are indebted to Jack Kirby’s cosmic work of the 60s and 70s, and McDaid definitely has a streak of The King in his artwork (which is some of my favorite comic art right now, check out his sketchblog), but the book doesn’t live in its influences too much or lean on them too heavily. While Jersey Gods is a mash up of cosmic superheroes and Patsy Walker-style romance comics, it embodies the best of ‘Mash-Up’ Age comics and makes itself its own thing in the process. I’ve been following the Barock story and the Zoe story with equal zeal and can’t wait for the next issue, the last one in the first arc, to see what happens to the two leads. We know from the previews that ran prior to the book’s launch that they end up married and in suburban Jersey, but dammit, I want to know how. The book is equal parts action, drama and humor with a touch of Kirby nostalgia and that should make it compelling to everybody who reads comics.

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