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Mike Deodato Jr

Not All Robots

In the year 2056 robots have supplanted humans in a futuristic world. Humans are no longer required to work, with newly sentient robots doing everything for them. An uneasy alliance has formed between the two factions, with each nervous about what the other is capable of.

The Walters family made up of teens Cora and Sven plus their parents have been assigned Razorball, a hulking giant of a robot who seems to spend a lot of free time in their garage tinkering on an unknown project. Tensions are high within the family, with the father being slavishly devoted to the robot while the mother and teens question this new way of life. While at first humans were grateful for the help and giving up menial labor, they are now perceived as little more as pets to the AI robots. Another wrinkle is that occasionally the robots malfunction and go on killing sprees.

But even the robots face obsolescence when new mandroids are manufactured, looking humanoid and making the metal robots look outdated. This obsolescence makes me think of the classic Twilight Zone episode The Obsolete Man when all that is good is brushed aside for technology and progress to the detriment of mankind.

The art is solid and was appropriately shadowy and moody considering the storyline. The artist Mike Deodato Jr is very fond of grid overlays and it works effectively. The dot matrix that often was used to convey shadows was very apropos for the storyline.

Author Mark Russell’s satire is spot-on, highlighting toxic masculinity, consumer society, corporate greed and white supremacy. Taken as purely social commentary, the narrative is biting, with a side of snark. Recommended!

The Resistance

Back in 2020, I read the first issue of The Resistance through Free Comic Book Day, and I said, “The evocative cover drew me in, and this story ended up being my favorite FCBD issue as it was a complete first issue of a new series, not just a taste like so many FCBD stories are. In fact, the narrative is eerily similar to what we are going through now, as a pandemic sweeps through the globe. In this tale, the pandemic is even more deadly, with a 95% fatality rate. But suddenly, the virus stops- as if a switch were turned off. The remaining world needs to regroup, with hints that there might be a mystical or otherworldly reason for what happened.”

Reading the entire graphic novel after a solid introduction was enjoyable- the world building was strong, for while the first chapter showcased a pandemic that changed the world order, the remainder of the book deals with the fallout. With only 5% of the world population remaining, political alliances are in turmoil, when suddenly millions of survivors begin to manifest superhuman powers (shades of the Marvel X-Men). What do these new powers symbolize- will these evolved humans bring hope to a fragile Earth, or are they super soldiers that were mutated by some aliens who plan to overthrow our planet? Governments step in to control these “reborns”, but many are cautious of the authority that is placed upon them, thus a resistance is born.

The art is solid and was appropriately shadowy and moody considering the storyline. The artist Mike Deodato Jr is very fond of grid overlays (see bottom picture) and it works very effectively. Deodato is an established artist, and his work reminds me both of Michael Gaydos’s work in the Jessica Jones graphic novels and a grown up version of the scratchy art I recall from Image’s early days in Wild C.A.T.S. and Youngblood.

Author J. Michael Straczynski offers fresh commentary about heroes and villains and ties it all into our current pandemic and certain fascist regimes. But he also has fun with it, as one of the chapters is just plain entertaining as you follow James, a new reborn being introduced to a superhero school, and he gets a behind-the-scenes look at how fake and controlled the heroes are. He was obviously inspired by the Marvel, DC, Invincible and Jupiter’s Legacy hero worlds, but makes it all his own. In his afterword, he mentions this will be a new universe that other AWA Upshot authors can connect into, so I look forward to this continuing story plus other tie-ins!

-Nancy

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