by Cory Johnson
(Editor's Note: Due to various holiday delays, here's Cory's latest column, just a bit later than usual.)
Last time I came by Pulp Fiction to pick up my books, I asked Boss Man Mike how Atomic Robo from Red 5 Comics was selling. I was shocked when he told me I am the only one ordering it. Really?!? After Wizard Magazine did a big “Secret Stash” article about it? After the first issue sold out and went back to press? After the rave reviews from darn-near every comic news site?OK, here’s the scoop:
Red 5 Comics (the name is a nod to Luke Skywalker’s fighter pilot callsign) is an upstart publisher with just a handful of books on the market. You might think, “Why bother? They’ll be out of business soon and they probably suck like most indie books do.” I’ve read my share of crappy low-budget books, and these aren’t anything like them. The scripting is tight, all with a hefty dose of comedy and the artists are ready for prime-time.
The titles to add to you pull list pronto are:
Just plain brilliant. This kind of funny adventure book is disappearing from mainstream comics. I enjoy “moody” books, but can we have fun once in a while? So many books with comical twists get canceled (Ant-Man, Thing, Manhunter) only to be replaced by more zombie books. Robo is a breath of fresh air. I can’t say it any better than Diamond Previews did this month when they included it as a staff pick:
“New publisher, Red 5 Comics, arrives on shelves with a bang (or rather a mushroom cloud) with their first mini-series Atomic Robo! Set during the beginning of World War II, Atomic Robo is a patriot hero-for-hire, fighting for truth, freedom, and the hope that he may just be able to “buy” himself legal citizenship as a human. Part Indiana Jones, part Captain America, this book promises action, gunplay, and the kind of lovable, robotic star you haven’t seen since Scud: The Disposable Assassin. Sure, the world survived WWII, but who do you think made it happen? Fads come and go, but robots are always in-style! Atomic Robo, may just be the most fun you can read for 295 cents!”
Imagine you find out your Dad’s the world’s biggest super-villain and he expects you to fill his slimy shoes. That’s what our protagonist faces in this concoction that’s equal parts Runaways, Invincible, and Ant-Man. The story may sound a little tired, but the final product is a clever parody of the world of super-heroes. If you like Paul Jenkins’ hilarious “Sidekick,” you will fall in love with this title. The jokes in this book are actually laugh-out-loud funny and the polished artwork makes me forget I’m reading an indie book. Ain’t it Cool news really dug the first issue: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/34387
If you enjoyed Disney’s “Incredibles,” this book is for you. The premise is simple enough: Mom and Dad by day, vigilante super-heroes by night. This light read will help you kick away the stress of a busy day with a fun ride that never takes itself too seriously. The clean and simple artwork is complemented by the quick-paced writing. Midknight gets a little outdone by Robo and Abyss, but only one issue has been released so far and I am eagerly awaiting issue two. Check out what they’re saying at Geeks of Doom: http://geeksofdoom.com/2007/11/10/comic-review-midknight-1/
One of the best parts about all of these books is that Red 5 keeps their products under the three buck mark. Smaller companies can often make the rookie mistake of pricing their comics higher than Marvel and DC. I’d probably buy more books from Boom and Image if their books were more reasonably priced. Why pay more for an experiment? Red 5’s pricing is easy on my wallet and will buy the publisher some time to find an audience. The company has a clear identity right out of the gate: high quality products that will make you laugh. Don’t miss out. For more samples of any of these books, go to Red 5’s impressive website: http://www.red5comics.com/Merry X-mas!