“Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures” #9 by Brian Clevinger, Joshua Ross, Jonathan Ross, Leela Wagner and Ryan Cody contains two stories, the first continuing an ongoing story set in turn of the century New York City, the second concerning Atomic Robo’s military activities in post-WWII South Korea.
The first story by Clevinger, Wagner and Cody picks up at the end of the last serial installment, with Charles Fort, Winfield-Scott Lovecraft, and Ehrie “Houdini” Weiss working together to foil The Billion Dollar Plot to overthrow the US government. In “Real Science Adventures” #9, the three uncover information and narrowly escape nameless henchmen in an extended chase scene. The 16-page installment concludes with Fort announcing his outlandish-sounding theory, to the amusing disbelief of his friends and the solemn agreement of an unexpected visitor and familiar face.
Clevinger’s script is very decompressed and heavy on action scenes, characteristic of his work on “Atomic Robo.” In the parent title, the decompression of plot allowed Scott Wegener’s spectacular open-air action military scenes and backgrounds to shine. In this spin-off anthology, the effect is somewhat different. The pacing and rhythm is still pleasantly relaxed, with relatively few plot developments over a lot of panels. The action and dialogue mostly prolong suspense and built up the casual upbeat camaraderie and teamwork between Lovecraft, Fort and Weiss.
Wagner and Cody’s art has attractive clean lines, but their subject matter is confined to nighttime intrigue and cramped interiors. Colorist Erica Henderson sticks to her preferred palette of dark, opaque warm neutrals. The most visually arresting page has an overhead shot stretching across a foyer, with black-and-white Harlequin-like tiles elegantly and confidently rendered in loose ink squares, accompanied by a wine-dark rug pattern and honey-golden walls. The beautiful background makes the reader linger in the suspense of a confrontation moment between Fort, Lovecraft and henchmen in their purple-black hats and coats.
Some of the other panel backgrounds also have subtle patterns and architectural details, and the combined visual effects are comfortable and inviting. Still, the visuals themselves don’t justify how slowly the plot unrolls. However, when the story arc is collected in trade, this will be less of an issue.
The five-page backup story, “Robo and Goliath” by Joshua Ross, Jonathan Ross and Brian Clevinger is set in Seoul, South Korea in June 1950. It is an extremely text-box-heavy mini-story, with only two lines of dialogue. The story content is that Robo is doing the military a favor by taking down a North Korean weapon, but the historical background and Robo’s characteristic thoughtful monologue are really just a thin excuse for the Rosses to draw a Giant Robot vs. Robo fight sequence. That said, the fight scene itself is very pretty. The Rosses’ style is attractively detailed, similar in style to Geof Darrow’s cityscapes or Riley Rossmo’s art for “Debris,” and Robo’s ending thoughts neatly tie up the tale.
“Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures” #9 is a little short on story development, but it’s still a worthwhile read for its historical texture, bright tone and consistently solid art.