Upfront: I wasn’t impressed by this book. But as with all bad reviews, please keep in mind that this is one reviewer’s opinion. In fact, I know that other writer’s at this site (and others) have enjoyed this book and even donated to their Kickstarter to print a TPB. But that writer was not me.
There’s really nothing specific or special about this, other than the clear Mike Mignola influence. And even then, it only provides Robot 13 with little more than a point of how close and connected it is to its predecessor without constructing anything from the influence but a “oh, man, we’re fans of this stuff” statement. Which is fine, but Robot 13 didn’t engross me at all. Instead, this comic just sort of sits next to something like Hellboy, and in time of decision, I’d rather choose the more defined work because, well, this is really just someone’s own personal version of Mignola’s book, just with a robot instead of a demon.
That said though, Robot 13‘s fine, if you want to be technical. The story involves a robot, if you hadn’t guessed, who’s in search of himself and his past. In the first issue, he wakes up from a coma and begins this quest and along the way fights an assortment of mythical beasts. The story’s told in a lighthearted tone which works, and the pacing moves the plot along quite well, allowing for a lot to happen within the three issues I read.
If this were a Comics 101 assignment, it would pass, but beyond that I felt like the comic is limited. And not in a subtext or artistic intention sort of way. The writing was certainly technically sound and the art was actually fantastic. But it felt limited in an entertainment way. I read this and I found myself disconnected from the material. I could tell you everything which occurred, but I wouldn’t do so happily because this comic just sort of exists. It is a lot of genre conventions and familiar tones thrown into a small press book; it gives off the vibe of one of those “hey, a robot, a squid and a villain … that equals great comics!” comics. All of which comes across hollow, and by the time I finished it all I could mutter was, “well, that was a comic book.”
Granted, maybe I’m being harsh and allowing my slight pretension to show. Like I said, everything on this site comes down to personal preference. But really I walked away from this unimpressed as I found nothing unique or exciting within it. Sure, there’s plenty of action, but the action comes off as mandatory rather than organic.
Simply said, Robot 13 was, for me, a knock off genre comic steeped too heavily in its influences that it appears almost as a clone.
I will give Blacklist Studios some credit on the production, though. For a small press studio, the printing and packaging of these issues are very nice, riding up there alongside stuff that Image would do. So there’s that.
TL;DR: While not bad, Robot 13 doesn’t exactly offer anything exciting or discussion worthy. You’ll read this and linger little on it.
Robot 13 was written by Thomas Hall and illustrated by Daniel Bradford. It is published by their own imprint, Blacklist Studios. You can find a list of stores that currently carry Blacklist studios titles and also retailer ordering info on their website. Unfortunately, their store is still under construction, so unless you live near one of the stores or run into them at a con, you might want to reach out to them directly to order.
Review copies of issues 1-3 of Robot 13 were graciously provided to Spandexless by the publisher.