Thursday, October 1, 2009

Surfing the Bleed Reviews Robot 13 #2

The first issue of Robot 13 by write Thomas Hall and artist Daniel Bradford broke onto the scene to a chorus of critical acclaim. Marrying the action and mystery inherent to a Robert E. Howard story to Mignola-esque images, the first issue of Robot 13 did not disappoint. If anything, it left you wanting much, much more. Lucky for us, the second issue delivers.

In issue two, the lonely and enigmatic Robot 13 returns to battle, this time against a fairly aggressive phoenix. While it's still not clear at the end of the issue why our mechanical protagonist keeps drawing the ire of these mythological beasts, it is revealed that his ass-kicking, no-name-taking way of dealing with the problem is ruffling a few, um...well...arms.

While you could argue that the first issue of Robot 13 was sparse, I think you'd be missing the point. Hall's script for the first book created a big, epic, thundering battle that would leave the reader with a lot of questions to be answered. It was a smart move on the part of the writer, creating a great hook and a great character without revealing too much about the story right off the bat. Hall is a pusher and what he's pushing is Robot 13. So far, he's doing a hell of a job.

In issue two he jumps right in, peeling back another layer from the character and gives us a little taste of the rich, detailed myth he's weaving here. He also introduces us to what appears to be the title's villain, a sufficiently creepy insectoid-woman that is none too happy about the robot's victories over her "children." Hall is pulling from various myths and fairytales to create something original and engaging, building a world and a mythology all his own.

And then there's the art. While Daniel Bradford's style is reminiscent of Mike Mignola, it would be wrong to dismiss it as derivative. In much the same way that his partner Thomas Hall is culling his various influences into something new, Bradford is taking those artistic influences and weaving them into something that we haven't seen from this style before. His figures appear haunted, pulled down by the weight of the dangerous world in which they live, whether it be ancient Crete or a Depression-era fishing boat. An expert at creating mood with his pencils and his colors, Bradford's art on Robot 13 easily invokes the confusion, the terror and the otherworldliness of the events unfolding. But what he excels at is the action. Robot 13 is a book about action, about combat, and Bradford brings that combat to brutal life. In issue two, the combat between 13 and the phoenix takes up almost half the book, with big, sweeping pages that convey so much movement in so little space. You can feel the blows, taste the burning air, feel the wind whipping past you as the two figures plummet toward the moutains below.

With a great combination of action and mystery, Robot 13 is a book with tons of potential. Talk to your local comic shop about ordering some copies so you can evangelize the work of Misters Hall and Bradford. If you need more information about the creators, their website can be found here.

Enjoy the book and help support independent creators.

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