Review: Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War

Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War
Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War

Red5 Comics made me a very happy Paul this week when I discovered that they offer subscriptions at their official store.  For the longest time, they didn’t even have an official store, and I found myself with incomplete runs of Atomic Robo and Neozoic.  No more searching all the comic shops in the area, just to end up waiting for the trades – now I can get the issues as they’re released!  I’m pretty hyped about it.  I haven’t had a subscription to a comic book since Archie Comics was publishing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Anyway, after much effort, and the help of Local Heroes Comics, I was able to get my hands on a copy of the trade paperback of Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War.  I know I could have just purchased it from Amazon.com, but that would have been too easy for Paul, Comic Hunter!  Anyway, if you read my review of the first volume, Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne, you’d know that I absolutely adored the series, thinking it was one of the best reads I’d had in a while.  My only qualm with it was the fact that the way the trade was layed out, it was a bit hard to tell when one story ended and another began.

Did volume II, Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War, meet up to the high standards set by the first volume?  Was it worth all the effort in trying to find the damn thing in the first place?  Check out my review after the jump!

The quick answer is yes – Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War was worth all the trouble.  Does it match up to the high standards set by the original volume?  Hmmm…that’s a more loaded question.

The cover to Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War #5
The cover to Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War #5

Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War is a much more linear tale than the first volume, in that it’s, for the most part, told in order with relatively few side stories that call back to a different time period.  The entirety of the story is set during WWII – Atomic Robo is on a mission to destroy the advanced high-tech weaponry of the Third Reich.  We’re talking things like walking tanks, weather cannons, giant mutant soldiers…the usual.  Along the way, he manages to get his mission tangled up with that of The Sparrow, Britain’s greatest covert operative.

Perhaps it’s the setting of World War II, but Dogs of War isn’t quite as funny as Fightin’ Scientist of Tesladyne.  There’s humor, of course (it is Atomic Robo, after all), but Robo’s banter with The Sparrow isn’t quite as humorous as it was with the Tesladyne team, and the book itself has a more serious tone.  Well, as serious as you can get with walking tanks and giant monsters.  I can say that I enjoyed reading Fightin’ Scientists more.

Does that mean Dogs of War isn’t as good?  Not at all.  This book is still a stupendous example of what the perfect combination of writing and art can do for a comic book.  It’s just not as fun as the original, and I think that’s intentional.  Reading the introductions by writer Brian Clevinger and artist Scott Wegener, they both tell heartfelt stories about their grandfathers’ experiences during WWII.  The war itself is portrayed seriously – you see people die in non-humorous ways, there’s not a lot of joking while people are shooting at each other.  It’s only when Atomic Robo is there, and good men aren’t dying, that the humor comes back out.

The Sparrow, from Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War
The Sparrow

If you haven’t picked up Fightin’ Scientists yet, it’s recommended that you give that one a read before you check out Dogs of War.  While the story is self-contained enough for new readers to enjoy, there is a twist that readers of the first volume will definitely enjoy.

The back up stories are all great fun, and the first one is a good bookend to the Dogs of War storyline, and a pretty serious one at that.  I enjoy these back up tales – with words by writer Clevinger, but art by a variety of talent, I enjoy how they still keep the feel of Atomic Robo, instead of going off and doing something else.

Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War may not be as fun as the first volume, but it’s still an excellent read and more than worth every penny you spend on it.  No crossovers, no gimmicks – just good old-fashioned comic writing.  The first issue of the third volume, Atomic Robo and the Shadow from Beyond Time just came out a couple of weeks ago, and my copy is on it’s way!  Now if I can just get my mitts on a copy of the Neozoic trade.

Order Atomic Robo‘s first two volumes below!

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