Friday, December 09, 2005

Robotika #1

Enter the World of Robotika. As you may already know, I don't review the everyday, common superhero stuff. I'm not dissing on the roots of comic books in America and the need for heros, but I just like the independent, non-run-of-the-mill stuff. Robotika is futuristic and cutting-edge in all aspects, with touches of classic Japan and tones of honor from the way of the warrior. For those of you out there that understand, yomu no ga mechakucha tanoshikatta yo! (everyone else, consult Jim Breen's Dictionary).

About the writter and illustrator, Alex Sheikman: If you haven't purchased Robotika yet, go take a glimpse at Alex's work; he has great work! His website shows pieces from Stingray, Bloodlust, Moonstruck, and Robotika (of course). He also has some sketchbook art, rpg illustrations, and "for fun" art. It's all extremely unique, and he's the reason I took so long reading Robotika for the first time. I kept looking at the pictures like a chubby kid with no money in a candy shop. Also, here's a link to his blog, which also has some sketches and background info on the making of Robotika.

About the cover art, Ryan Sook: in 2005 alone, he published tons of work (in addition to Robotika Cover #1) in Birds of Prey, Hawkman, Races of Eberron, X-Factor, and Zatanna. He's also published stuff for Arkham Asylum, Hellhounds, and Metal Hurlant. Nice work Sook!

About the colors, Joel Chua: his website exhibits how busy he is right now. He also runs a blog, link. Nautilus Comics just made him official colorist for CAST, and he's also finishing up the illustrations for his first children's book called Zohn's Tale to Tell.

About the story, Robotika: I'm gonna give you some background on this story because it is totally fresh. There's a section in the back of #1 called "The World of Robotika" that I'd suggest you read before getting into the story. It tells about XPS-15s, VR helmets, ecorganic towers, drones, and vision mirrors. Here's the gist: there's this samurai guy name Niko, who's a member of the Queen's elite bodyguard corps (her protection). Contract mercenaries of the Black Legion kill a doctor and steal the invention he's worked his entire life on. The Queen sends Niko on a mission to recover the invention, which if it ends up in the wrong hands, will start a bloody civil war between humans and cyborgs. What's the invention? It's the first biological machine that can reproduce, develop, and learn on 'her' own.

Review and First Impression: I was in awe by this story. The art is colorful and fantastic. It is so futuristic, however, that I kept pausing to try to figure out all the intricate details. Alex does a good job introducing and developing the main character, Niko. It's clear that he's the elite of the elite, but just remember--he's mute. I'm interested in seeing how Alex pulls off a story with a mute hero. . . but don't get me wrong, I think he's done a good job so far. The story also has some great samurai-style fighting scenes, blade v. gun.

One of the things I had a hard time with, was the text boxes with lettering vertical-style. I just haven't read much English, left-to-right, top-to-bottom. So that took some getting used to, but I understand the stylistic purpose in having lettering that way. I was also interested in knowing more about Cherokee Geisha. Who was that and why did Niko listen to her? Other than that, I like the themes that are being developed: obsolete cyborgs rising up against modern cyborgs (I, Robot-esque), samurai loyalty to their leader, new race creation through science, organic batteries and technology, and nations being torn appart by competing values.

RECOMMENDATION: buy #2. This is a no brainer for me. I love Japanese stuff, I mean, my name is Ichiban Sensei for heaven's sake! But honestly, I think this 4-issue series has a well-constructed and extremely unique #1. Go give it a try.

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