Thursday, April 1, 2010

Release The... Robot 13 !!

R13 - Colossus (Thomas Hall, Daniel Bradford) Blacklist Studios: I received an email in late February from Thomas Hall. I had received one from him some time earlier and stupidly had not given it the attention I should have. I had access to a digital version of Robot 13 #1 since June of last year, and I had looked at it, but not really tried to read it. By the time I got the second email, There were three issues available to me, the entire first story arc, and I decided I really needed to read it.

A bit of my issue, I guess, was probably that it looked absolutely beautiful, but absolutely looked like something Mike Mignola had done. This is not a bad thing, as I am not sure i have met anything Mignola has done that didn't range from 'very good' to 'brilliant' in my opinion. Whatever my feeble reason was (probably laziness), it was a dumb one, and my loss for not having dived into it sooner.
Issue 1 starts with a fishing boat off the coast of Spain. They pull a metal, man-shaped object out of the water, It turns out to be a robot of sorts with a skull inside of a glass dome for a head. This is also something that we have seen before more or less, but that doesn't preclude this from being original or good, in the same way that it doesn't guarantee it will be as cool as that concept sounds. (This comic is every bit as cool as the concept of a 'being with a skull floating in a glass dome for a head' sounds.) 13 Doesn't remember anything or know where he is at first, but it doesn't take long for him to figure out he is pretty adept at the fighting of giant monsters. He is also immediately sympathetic. His interactions with people are all done in such a way that you know that despite the evil looking floating skull thing, this is a hero of some sort, and a decent sort of character that you are dealing with. Fortunately he is not exclusively met with fear, and in the course of these three issues you learn a good bit about his history while still leaving vast amounts that can be filled in, and limitless questions that can be answered.
In reading interviews and things that are available out there, it is a fact that the story changed somewhere between the character design and actually getting things on paper. I think the direction that Hall and Bradford took with this is really perfect. There is a heavy Greek mythology tie in, with big monsters of greek mythology tie-ing in to the story as the villains (at least so far), and I thought it worked really well. I am a big fan of mythology and the creatures and characters that figure into the myths of various cultures, etc. and I like it when things are put together that use those things in a neat way.
The art as I said is beautiful. It really is perfectly done within the style it is done in. Like the cover to issue 1 that I have posted, there are pages from the first issue of tentacles that are absolutely stunning. I am not necessarily a big tentacle fan or anything, but the color and design and layout are really just perfect.
It is extremely fortunate that this project has an artist as capable as Bradford on it, as Hall's writing is excellent graphic narrative writing. This series does not shy away from dialog when it is needed, but it uses it efficiently, and the story is successfully told in the panels more than in the balloons and boxes. There are plenty of pages that are nearly wordless, and even if you don't read the dialog, and focus just on the images presented, you can have a good sense of what is going on, and a strong feel for the emotion and pacing, etc.
I almost passed up reading this, and certainly didn't go into it predisposed to like it, but I am very glad that I did read it, and it certainly ranks among the best comics I have read this year.

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