COMIC REVIEW: Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific

Girls, gadgets, guns and a sentient robot from the mind of Nikola Tesla…yes, it’s back to the world of Atomic Robo! This latest volume of Atomic Robo, just finishing in single issues with #5 and shortly to be released as a collected edition, is yet another fantastic adventure for a series which prides itself in its fantastic adventuring!

As we open, it’s 1951 in the South Pacific and Robo is testing out a prototype jet, into which he’s invested all of the money left to him by Nikola Tesla. He’s quickly drawn into a battle with strange-looking aircraft and finds it even stranger when he’s saved by a group of female mercenaries operating out of a secret island base nearby. Captained by May Carter, an eye-patched disciplinarian, these scavengers have been plying their trade throughout the region, taking advantage of all the abandoned military equipment in order to make a living. They’re all women who didn’t want to return to their “ordinary” lives back in the States once WWII was over.

I couldn’t quite work out what Robo was more incredulous about, his being rescued by women or the fact they’re wearing jetpacks (did I mentioned the jetpacks?). His astonishment at the gender of his rescuers is played pretty strongly, and seemed a little out of character, Robo has never seemed to me like he carries any particular prejudices.

His attackers are a cult of Japanese soldiers who have continued scheming since the end of the war and have managed to create technically wondrous machines of war, from strange flying battleships to futuristic fighters. They have plans afoot to seek their revenge on America for their defeat in the war.

This idea of a pocket of soldiers fighting beyond the end of the war isn’t necessarily new but it’s supremely well handled. Just as I thought I’d found the slightest crack in the plot line Clevinger provided an answer, it was uncannily like he’d planted that seed only to crush it…in fact he pulled this on me twice! Their plot is suitably grand and of course Robo and the She-Devils get dragged into it.

This is probably the most expansive that I’ve seen Scott Wegener’s art, he renders wonderful battle sequences and I was particularly impressed with scenes of the She-Devils with jetpacks and grappling hooks fighting the Japanese fighters. The designs of the ships and jerry-rigged technology are fantastic and there are great touches like the design of Captain Carter’s goggles.

My only gripe is the reference to flying saucers for ships which aren’t at all saucer-shaped. There’s a real sense of speed and energy in the art which I would love to see on the big screen.

I’d highly recommend this series, Atomic Robo continues to be one of the best independent comic series available.

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Dave W

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