“Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific” #5 is a smooth landing for Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener’s latest adventure for Robo in the Pacific Ocean Theater.
Clevinger writes bright, upbeat military action. It’s a lot of fun to read, although further depth of characterization is sacrificed in “Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific” #5 for exciting combat scenes. Clevinger is quietly subversive in making the She-Devils the true heroes of the story, and they remain excellent supporting characters. They strike a good balance between wholesome and feisty, independent and loyal. The story’s resolution, while predictable, still achieves a depth of emotion due to Clevinger’s previous strength of characterization and Wegener’s concise but potent facial expressions.
Clevenger’s coda to the ending is a well-worn, sentimental and cliche, but it strikes a feel-good note. In the true ending and the direct aftermath of battle, Clevinger doesn’t minimize the stakes of war, and I like how he emphasizes that even in victory, no one wins everything.
Throughout the story, Clevinger and Wegener’s visual and verbal senses of humor work well together. It’s hilarious how Robo is covered in bandages in a later scene, emphasizing his anthropomorphic characterization, and lines from Robo like, “I can hear it in my optics” make this war story unusually light, supported by Wegener’s cartoony style and Filardi’s pure and bright palette.
The real star in “Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific” #5 is Wegener and Filardi’s gorgeous art. The back and forth exchange of aerial maneuvers and gunfire throughout the battle doesn’t get old due to Wegener’s graceful compositions.
Wegener’s visualization of sound and impact is especially beautiful, and the arc of flight paths or the staccato of artillery forms essential parts of his compositions. His camera angles approach a battle scene from every direction, but the panel to panel transitions are smooth as opponents trade blows and repartee. Wegener’s visual clarity and smooth line is especially appreciated in this final showdown, where there are several actors engaged in combat and it might have been difficult for the reader to keep everything straight.
Filardi’s colors are stunning as usual. His palette for “Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific” #5 is primarily warm lemon yellows, peachy oranges and wine-dark burgundy, punctuated by bursts of blue and other strong accent hues. Filardi’s work is capable of both enthusiastic boldness and lovely subtlety. Two of his most striking panels are polar opposites: one depicts the icy, blue-gray surface of the sea punctuated by jagged splashes from martial action, and the other is a cherry red “BOOM!” that reinforces Robo’s iconic pose as he surges heroically forward in one-point perspective.
“Atomic Robo” is a title that consistently delivers, and in “Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific” #5, fans will be pleased by Clevinger and Wegener’s handling of this chapter of Robo’s life that showcases his stalwart yet unassuming personality.