by Alex Sheikman (Archaia, 2006)

An opening caption reads: "With technology advancing at an exponential rate, man's never ending quest for perfection reached dizzying new heights." That's not really true.

"While geneticists enhanced humans in previously undreamt of ways, other scientists focused on machines, raising them to a near human level." Bingo.

What they actually got in Robotika was neither human machines nor enhanced humans. They got nightmares in a fast-paced, intriguing new series from cartoonist Alex Sheikman and crew. And those organic and nonorganic altered and unaltered beings are at war.

There's nothing new in that interesting premise. Weird thingies have been at war since the science-fiction genre began more than 100 years ago. What is new is a fascinating mix of prose and art styles. Robotika is a wild, well-written and –drawn romp through a futuristic world of meddling scientists, bizarre creatures and battling Samaria. Ray guns and swords. Beautiful women and ugly things. Cool.

But there is a wee bitty problem.

The dialogue is occasionally stilted, as when the mad scientist raises a vial and says: "After so many aborted attempts and distortions of my dream, I have finally created ... PERFECTION!!" I'm sure you hear that around the office often.

And then someone got the clever idea of printing some of the dialogue in vertical rows. It is completely illegible. Like me, you'll probably skip over the vertical dialogue.

Here is a rule for all fiction. Don't make your readers work to understand what you are doing. That work shatters the suspension of disbelief and weakens or even destroys a story.

Weakened by this mistake, but in no way destroyed, Robotika is still recommended. It contains fantasy violence, muted nudity (I commend the restraint) and no profanity.

review by
Michael Vance

14 July 2007

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