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Robotika: For a Few Rubles More #1 comes out this week – do yourself a favor and pick up a copy!

by  in Comic News Comment
<i>Robotika: For a Few Rubles More</i> #1 comes out this week – do yourself a favor and pick up a copy!

Our Dread Lord and Master reviewed this last week, but the creator, Alex Sheikman, sent me the same .pdf file he sent Cronin, so I figured I’d review it too.  It comes out tomorrow, and you ought to check it out.

The first Robotika mini-series, which came out last year, was a marvelous book to look at, because Sheikman’s art is simply stunning.  His writing, however, was a bit off, which kept it from being a truly great comic.  This time around he’s enlisted a scripter, David Moran, which might make it a better read when it’s all said and done.  In this first issue, however, there are a few problems, even though I still think this is a very good comic.

First of all, Sheikman and Moran don’t do much to introduce the characters.  If you missed the last series (and, unfortunately, many people did), you won’t know that Sheikman has created a weird futuristic world that’s a cross between a Japanese samurai culture and the Old West.  We get a lot of that from the comic itself, and the visual clues that Sheikman uses throughout the book help us acclimate to the setting, but we don’t have any context for the book, and it’s a bit jarring.  Similarly, we don’t know the relationship between the two main characters, Bronski and Cherokee Geisha (Niko, the silent samurai, isn’t in the book all that much – I wonder what he’s up to, as he seems to disappear early on and go off on his own [Edit: Now that I have the hard copy of the book and can look at it more clearly, I see that he is, in fact, sitting the tavern with his two companions later in the book.  I missed it the first time.  He still doesn’t do anything, but he is there.  My bad.]).  In fact, we don’t even learn Cherokee’s name!  (Bronski calls her “CG” throughout the book.)  We find out that they are yojimbo who take “protection” jobs for money, but we’re not sure how they got into this situation.  Again, it’s set up in the first series, but a bit of backstory would have been nice.  Moran’s scripting isn’t bad, but it’s not great either, but he does do a decent job setting up the particulars: at the beginning we see a drug deal go wrong and the seller betrayed without getting paid, then Cherokee and Bronski arrive in a town where most of the population is strung out on said drug, and a nasty drug it is indeed, and then the dealer shows up wanting his money, and there’s going to be problems next issue.  We get the basics for the story, but not much else.  We’ll see how the story plays out, because the biggest problem with the last mini-series was the resolution.

Sheikman’s art is spectacular, as usual.  He has a wonderful sense of design and characterization, and he fills each panel with fantastic details that help create this weird world.  Our heroes move through an odd steampunk landscape (if that’s the word), where junked machines lay juxtaposed with futuristic creations and cyborg killers.  The way the “tadpoles” – the drug everyone is addicted to – affect the user is portrayed well, too, as the buyer looks into a user’s brain and sees all sorts of strange creations setting up camp in his head.  Sheikman is meticulous in his work, blending the Wild West and Japanese elements to create something unique and fascinating.  The story isn’t all that original, but the way it’s presented and shown to us through the art makes this a very neat comic.

According to Sheikman, the first series didn’t sell that well.  That’s really a shame, because it was an interesting book with art that is far better than most of the stuff you see in a regular superhero book.  It’s from a smaller publisher and costs $3.95, but it shouldn’t be that hard to find (Archaia may be late with some of their titles, but they do get them into comic book stores!) and it’s worth more than most $2.99 books.  It’s longer than most comics, and the back-up story, also by Sheikman and Moran, tells a very nice self-contained tale about the way we honor the dead and the love a parent has for a child.  I’d post some of the art from this issue, but the file Sheikman sent me is a bit fuzzy, so you won’t get the full impact of the crisp lines.  If you check out Brian’s review, he has some of the pages scanned without the fuzziness.  I also posted some of his art from the first mini-series here, if you want to check it out (it’s down in the post somewhere, I promise!).

If you’re looking for something different tomorrow, keep this in mind.  It’s a gorgeous book from a guy who should be getting more attention.

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