Taking place two years after the Hashima incident, detailed in The Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur, Atomic Robo is missing; Majestic 12 has disbanded Tesladyne and become task force ULTRA, an aggressively violent organization backed by the military and U.S. Government that investigates scientific pursuits. Without the titular character to follow, the issue covers two perspectives: a few former Tesladyne Action Scientists looking for answers and ULTRA itself, as the truth behind their actions unfolds.
I love Robo the character—I even wrote a love letter to him once— but this issue doesn't suffer in the slightest by his absence. The combination of the Action Scientists, nervous and cynical Bernard Fischer, out-of-left-field ideas of Vikram Abasi, and the kick-open-the-door approach of Bao Lang provides the humor, the science, and the action in abundance. Clevinger and Wegener could not have selected a better roster from Tesladyne's history (Sorry, Jenkins.) to be the protagonists of The Ring of Fire.
And, what are our heroes up against? ULTRA continues to secure Tesladyne facilities, equipment, and personnel. The cat-and-mouse game between the two groups—one significantly better equipped and staffed than the other—gives this issue the feeling of an action thriller (an action-science thriller?). Clevinger and Wegener pull off the feeling of the genre perfectly and sprinkle in just enough weird science to remind us this isn't Die Hard but Atomic Robo, all the while hinting at what's to come.
I really wondered if drawing so much 'normal' would have been a curveball, but the art team of artist Scott Wegener and colorist Anthony Clark turned out an amazing issue. The cover is a beautiful homage to X-Men: Days of Future Past, which introduces the Tesladyne line-up and manages to sum up the situation in one image, which isn't bad for six years of work and borrowing a cover drawn in 1981.
One of my favorite additions is the new Tesla Grams letter column, where Clevinger and Wegener answer the fan's in-depth questions about all things Robo. It's a part of their Patreon, but the answers go the extra mile in providing as much detail as possible.
There is no excuse for not following along with Atomic Robo. The ENTIRE archive of the series is now hosted online at www.atomic-robo.com, including bonus content not found in the issues, such as the prelude to The Ring of Fire that explores more of Bernard, Vik, Lang, and Foley's backgrounds. Because the comic is free, please consider supporting it through Patreon or by picking up The Ring of Fire #1 in stores and supporting the work the creative team poured into it.
Also out this month is the first Atomic Robo: Everything Explodes collection. This softcover assembles Volumes 1-3 of the series together in one place. It's a beautiful collection that will be lining the bookshelf of this fangirl soon.
And, because once a PREVIEWS Party host, always a PREVIEWS Party host, The Ring of Fire #3 is now available for pre-order using Order Code: SEP15 0416. If you like issue #1, go ahead and claim your copy for issue #3 and help create more Atomic Robo.
Until next time, remain calm and trust in science.
Kristine Chester, Chief Liaison to Tesladyne