It’s always fun to get to the final issue of an Atomic Robo series and see how writer Brian Clevinger will tie things together and what crazy climax artist Scott Wegener will save for each series’ finale.
Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X has given us a trips to space and Nebraska (which more action-packed than you might initially expect), and Japan, a well-financed shadowy government conspiracy, and a convoy of truckers (for science!). The final issue reveals who has been behind the attacks on Atomic Robo‘s life, and why. And as the title states it’s a ghost… well kinda. It’s a computer ghost.
Under Hashima Island, Japan, Atomic Robo discovers an “Automatic Learning Algorithm Network” built by Dr. Alan Turning in 1951. The program has been running unsupervised since Turning lost security clearance the following year. Over time the artifical intelligence has used beureaucrazy, secrecy and telecommunications to influence the world and predict the collapse of human civilization.
Since the 50’s the robot ghost has created master plan to survive the end of civilization by creating an autonomous interstellar ark built to learn, study, and explore the universe. Sounds cool right? On the other hand its launch would kill 95% of the earth with radioactive fallout. (I didn’t say it was a nice computer ghost.)
Understanding that Atomic Robo would survive such and event and eventually come after the person (or computer ghost) responsible, the artificial intelligence came up with a complicated scheme to try to our metal-plated science hero.
What works so well here is Clevinger’s insidious creation which needed Cold War bureaucracy in place to thrive. In order to get its plans through various governments of the past decades it needed to feed the paranoia that would make it far less likely for someone to question the orders. Even for a computer ghost, that’s a real dick move. Atomic Robo is taken aback but the cold, calculating manner which the computer ghost has used and horded knowledge for its own ends.
As comic book plots go that’s pretty damn ingenious. And let’s not forget, it’s fun! Who doesn’t want to see a standoff between a robot scientist/adventurer and a computer ghost?! The final battle finds Atomic Robo victorious (if a bit scratched, burnt, and blasted), but still at a loss for how the computer could have used that many decades and that much technology and never even considered the option to help the advancement of mankind. In the end it’s the robot’s humanity that saves the day. Must-read.
One final note: I struggled to find a comic in any local comic shop around Kansas City. I mentioned this to Brian Clevinger via Twitter and was almost instantly granted a review copy to enjoy. Thank you! You’re a class act, sir, and I can’t wait to read Volume 7 (and I’m already super-excited for the news that Dr. Dinosaur will return in Volume 8). As long as you and Scott Wegener keep making Atomic Robo comics I (and a whole bunch of comic nerds everywhere) will very, very happily keep reading them.
[Red 5, $3.50]