Saturday, December 15, 2007

Robotika For A Few Rubles More #1 - A Review

Robotika For A Few Rubles More #1 - A Review

Story by Alex Sheikman with David Moran, Script David Moran
Art and Lettering Alex Sheikman, Color Art Joel Chua


To summarize this in one sentence, I would call it one of those old Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns with laser pistols and robot horses. The story opens with a drug deal that quickly goes bad. Then, our heroes are introduced and they wander into a small, isolated town that is rife with corruption. Finally, one of the survivors from the drug deal returns to town looking for revenge. At which point our heroes begin to offer their services to the highest bidder.

There is a backup story the fleshes out the characterization for one of the main characters. AND that’s it.

Lee: Let’s just get it out of the way. I LOVED THIS BOOK. It was so good on so many levels that I really can’t find anything wrong with it. The art is great, the colors are great, the story is great, the whole darn package is just great.

The story doesn’t sound like much but so much goes on in the pages it’s incredible. It really is typical space western with hints of Japanese culture thrown in but, beyond that, it reminds me so much of Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name character. The opening sequence, which doesn’t include the heroes, is used to set the tone for future problems. One the main characters are introduced, the dialogue conveys simple details such as why the characters are walking and not riding. As a fan of Clint Eastwood westerns this just hit all the right notes with me. And, even more importantly, Alex finally corrected the vertical dialogue word balloons from the first miniseries which were terribly annoying.

As for the art, Sheikman is a great artist. They layouts work well and the panel configuration is great. The pages alternate between six and nine panel pages. The panels are vertical and horizontal. There are both long shots and close shots. It really looks like he pulled out all the stops to make the story as visually appealing as possible. Don’t get me wrong, as an art guy, I loved the old Marvel/DC comics that used six panel pages over and over and over. But this.. this is something completely different. Each page seems to have a flow all it’s own that works within the confines of the whole story.

One of my favorite pages is #21. In the first panel, you see the hero eating yet there is an amazing amount of action in the background. In the second panel, another one of the characters is talking to the waitress while silhouettes are used to maintain the action. In the last three panels, our heroes are drawn into the brawl itself. Look at the second to last panel. It’s a closeup of a glass falling and yet it conveys exactly where the story is going. It’s a great page.

The biggest compliment I can give to the art is how “well tuned” it is. Besides the great story telling, the anatomy is correct. The perspective is correct. It’s not fanboy art in the least.

Jim: Come in for the art and stay for the story. Lee and I have classified each other as Lee is the art guy and I am the story guy, but comics are a fusion of both, but the art is wondrous.

Alex Sheikman's pages are a joy to behold. The amount of thought and detail that go into each page speaks volumes about how much work has been poured into this book. In a sequence of 5 pages we have a 7 panel, 3 panel, 5 panel, 6 panel, 5 panel and a 6 panel page. But just changing how many panels does not give the artist justice as the composition and design of each page is different so that even if you had back to back six panel pages, they do not look the same. Just as important this design work is not done to "show off" his ability to design pages, they serve the story and continue a wonderful narrative flow of the story.

As the story guy I still need a story to pull me in and the story has me wanting to come back for more. I enjoy Lee saying this is a typical space western, as I was unaware that we had that many space westerns. It is also set in a future of cyborgs and has the flavor of a Japanese samurai story all mixed together with a hi-tech world and a low tech world. It really can't be simply categorized, but it tells a story and you want to follow our central characters and see how it ends up.

I had missed the original mini-series of Robotika and was so enthralled by this that I ordered the hard cover collection and I'm now enjoying the first mini-series.

Lee: Overall Grade – A. This is a great issue. If you aren’t reading this you should be.

Jim: Grade A. I cannot impress upon you how well crafted this book is and the artwork is the initial draw, but the story keeps you coming back. Run to your comic store this Wednesday and get a copy - if they don't have any go to another store or make him re-order it for you. See more on Robotika here

1 comment:

  1. I'm really happy they fixed CG's word balloons - that was incredibly annoying in the first series (which I enjoyed except for that)