Indie Comics Spotlight-Atomic Robo Vol. 9 #1: Knights of the Golden Circle, Nailbiter #1, Bandthology III
By Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Atomic Robo Vol. 9 #1: Knights of the Golden Circle
“Do nothing unless you’re supposed to.”
Atomic Robo has a propensity for doing good things, regardless of where he finds himself. And he’s found himself in quite a few varied situations across time and space, all of which require a different reaction. His latest adventures send him to the Wild West in Atomic Robo Vol. 9 #1: Knights of the Golden Circle from Red 5 Comics. The issue is written by Brian Clevinger, illustrated by Scott Wegener, colored by Anthony Clark and lettered by Jeff Powell.
Atomic Robo finds himself in 1884 in the Wild West with explicit instructions to stay out of trouble. That goes pretty well for him until he stumbles on the Butcher Boys, a group of outlaws accosting a seemingly helpless old man. And by accosting, I mean they’ve shot him and Robo needs to rush him to safety. As outlaws are wont to do, the boys trail Robo to a bar where he seeks help for the old man, threatening the life of everyone in there if he doesn’t come out. Fortunately for him, he’s got the law on his side in Deputy US Marshal Reeves, who recognizes a potential hero when he sees one.
Reading through Atomic Robo Vol. 9 #1: Knights of the Golden Circle feels pretty good and the script offers quite a breezy tale. Robo is really just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that won’t stop him from doing what he knows is the right thing. Clevinger taps into the dialect fairly well and keeps the reader engaged in both the action and the setting. Putting Atomic Robo in the Wild West is also pretty interesting because it serves as a juxtaposition of time; the thing is, apparently he’s known around there as a legendary hero named Ironhide. How he reconciles his current position with the legend remains to be seen and should be fun reading.
For a book about a robot in the Wild West, you need art that’s almost equally as ludicrous. Wegener is clearly having a blast with the art, as the cleanly defined characters still manage to look a little cartoony. Robo maintains all of his recognizable features, which admittedly aren’t much, but it’s humorous to see him dressed in western garb. Other characters carry varying degrees of heft to them and contrast with one another in a way that makes the world feel sufficiently populated. Clark’s coloring keeps things moving along and further immerses the reader in the tale as well.
Atomic Robo Vol. 9 #1: Knights of the Golden Circle is another entry in the Atomic Robo series that places him in another pretty crazy scenario. Newcomers to the property might be a little put off by the work as it’s somewhat steeped in Atomic Robo lore, but it’s not like you’ll have no idea what’s going on if you don’t know the character. Clevinger writes with a relatively light style that emphasizes the feel of the time and place through the character dialogue. Wegener’s illustrations are equally as bright, as he manages to make a book about outlaws trying to finish off a target relatively light. Atomic Robo Vol. 9 #1: Knights of the Golden Circle is a book that’s a lot of fun to read and really doesn’t expect to be taken too seriously.
Atomic Robo Vol. 9 #1: Knights of the Golden Circle is in stores now.
“Wasn’t expecting visitors. But don’t worry. There’s enough for everyone.”
Serial killers have a propensity for two things: killing and nicknames. The former is typically more their doing, while the latter usually comes from the media covering their actions. In most cases, the nickname plays off of what the serial killer is known for doing. If the above cover is any indication, then Nailbiter #1 offers a killer who takes the habit of biting one’s nails to a whole new level. The issue is written by Joshua Williamson, illustrated by Mike Henderson, colored by Adam Guzowski and lettered by John J. Hill.
Buckaroo, Oregon, has given birth to sixteen of the vilest serial killers in the world. An obsessed FBI profiler named Carroll is investigating the town before he suddenly goes missing. Cue NSA Agent Nicholas Finch, who must then work with the notorious serial killer Edward “Nailbiter” Warren to find his friend and solve the mystery of “Where do serial killers come from?” Finch has his own demons he has to contend with, but fortunately for him Carroll’s need pulls him out — temporarily at least.
Off the bat, Nailbiter #1 is pretty intense. The opening pages showcase the takedown of the aforementioned title character, but not before he manages earn his reputation as a notorious serial killer. That’s where Williamson excels the most: in creating a world where serial killers seem to gravitate to one town and are idolized to some extent. The people in Buckaroo accept the risk and know the myths, yet there are still some keen on turning a quick buck on the legends. It speaks to the culture of society that just about anyone is put on a pedestal and everyone wants a piece of the action. Williamson offers dialogue that is very sharp and seems so ho-hum at times you’d be hard-pressed to imagine anyone even realizes the monsters they live amongst.
While the pacing of the story is very calculated and slowly draws the reader in, there’s definitely something to be said about Henderson’s art. Henderson offers characters full of emotion and who appear to be physically capable of a number of bad deeds, regardless of which side of the law they fall on. The opening panels’ depiction of the Nailbiter really stay with the reader and do a superb job of offering a glimpse into the world of Buckaroo. You can sense the moody build-up that typically comes with horror movies in his illustrations and it gives you a sense of foreboding. There’s even a panel with a bee stinging one of the characters that feels more grandiose than is actually is. Guzowski’s colors further accent the moodiness, demonstrating the dark browns and blacks that one typically associate with a town full of horror.
Nailbiter #1 is a comic that hits the ground running and doesn’t look to want to let up anytime soon. The interplay amongst the characters is very intelligent and offers a story rife with fear and suspense. Williamson has crafted a script that is paced very well and offers the makings of a fantastic saga. Henderson’s art is emphatic and emotive, presenting a world that nobody would really want to visit, yet many people still manage to call home. There’s a lot to like about Nailbiter #1 that makes one think Image Comics has another hit on their hands. Who knew that a town full of serial killers could be so attractive to visitors?
Nailbiter #1 is in stores now
“We’ve got everything else the band needs…but we’ve gotta have a hat guy.”
Before you play the sold out arenas, forty city tours and get the cover on Rolling Stone, you’ve got to put in work otherwise to be a successful band. That means playing smaller venues, traveling insane amounts of time typically in a van and fighting with other members on the creative direction. It all makes for rather fascinating storytelling and it’s something King Bone Press has perfected in their Bandthology series, with the latest entrant Bandthology III. The anthology is comprised of “Hat Guy” by Matt Collander, “Carry On…” by Jon Westhoff and Ray Wegner, “Listen” by Brian Holland, “Return of the Warrior” by Andrew Vanderbilt, “Leave Mine to Me” by Bill Zanowitz and Elliott Junkyard, “Punk Rock” by Bobgar Ornelas, “Beardo” by Dan Dougherty, “Metal Skeleton: Sound Check” by James Ford and Sean Fagan, “Reverb Deep, Mountain High” by Wendi Freeman and Alejandro Rosado, “The Gathering” by Leo Perez and John M. Lennon, “You and I” by Andy Jewett and “Champion” by Monsta and Westhoff.
Bandthology III essentially picks up where the previous two anthologies left off. For instance, “Hat Guy” plays upon the common band trope that every band needs one guy wearing a hat, which for some reason imbues them with unexplained powers of popularity and cool. Another story is “Carry On,” which takes the concept of the ballad to an entirely different – and somewhat galactic – level. And there’s a story that takes a look at how bands tend to elicit fanatically devoted followers who become their own subset of band culture couched against the infighting that occurs in said culture as to who’s really part of it.
The talent in Bandthology III is quite diverse and every story tends to draw upon some common themes that come with bands and performing music. There’s so much that can be mined from the material (and clearly King Bone Press has, considering this is the third anthology), but all of its done so very tongue-in-cheek. The writing is breezy enough where you’re not getting bogged down in trying to keep track of characters or plots. In fact, each story itself is only a few pages long, so they’re very short and sweet. The fact that the stories are relatively short is where Bandthology III excels, as they carry the common thread of being a band throughout and offer drastically different viewpoints on that membership.
Artistically, there’s a lot of variation in Bandthology III, which is expected considering it’s an anthology. The book maintains the same black and white style of its predecessors, helping to give the book the small-time band feel on which many of the stories seem to capitalize. There’s clearly a difference of styles from one story to the next, so much so that from a visual standpoint, some of the transitions are rather jarring. That’s not a bad thing, though, as the differences help add the atmosphere one would expect at a concert or battle of the bands. Much of the art relies on its uniqueness to carry the eccentricities of the band life.
Bandthology III is a book that’s a lot of fun. There are a lot of really interesting stories in it that really tap into the life of a band and its members, with many of them quite humorous. Creative arts always require commitment and can be somewhat trying at times, a fact that’s not lost on the Bandthology III creators. A lot of the characters who appeared in the two earlier versions of the anthology return in Bandthology III for more misadventures, providing a slight level of continuity. If you’re looking for something that’s slightly different, then Bandthology III is definitely what you’re looking for; bonus points if you’re in a band and can relate to being the hat guy.
Bandthology III is available for preorder now from King Bone Press.