In Issue Three of Thomas Hall and Daniel Bradford’s excellent new comic series, Robot 13, the titular metal-and-bone hero gets some light shed on his past:
Meanwhile, having dealt with a Kraken in Issue One and an angry Phoenix in Issue Two, Robot 13 finds that his mythological enemies are getting more annoyed and bigger than ever:
The story has definitely consolidated here, and though you reach the end without knowing everything about R13, you feel as though you know more than ever and that the journey still to come will be an exciting one. The tale promises to weave its own unique blend of robotics, metaphysics and mythological monstrosity into the future.
Artist Daniel Bradford’s art has also found a quality and tone that is all its own, despite acknowledged influences by way of Jack Kirby and Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comics.
Interestingly this month has seen something of a controversy flare up over statements made by Dark Horse editor Scott Allie to the effect that the cover is a direct “ripoff” of the cover of “Hellboy: Almost Colossus”.
Comparing the two covers (which you can do here), it should be obvious to right-thinking readers that the accusation smacks of absurdity. Obviously the visual orientation of the covers are totally different and conceptually the image has a history that could be traced back a long way — as Hall illustrates with due irony on his blog. The claim that the similarity to Hellboy lies in (a) the bulges on the Cyclops’ head which are like Hellboy’s sawn-off horns, and (b) its skin colour is red, the same as Hellboy’s, seems like an afterthought to me. When I read the issue, I made no such comparison.
On this, Thomas Hall commented to Undead Backbrain:
Another point that people made is that they see the lumpy appearance of the Cyclops’s head and think that those bumps are sawed off horns like the ones Hellboy has … again, utter nonsense. In doing Robot 13, I have done a lot of research into the science behind things and looking to see what some of the creatures might look like. The Phoenix, for example, was based on the archeopteryx, which is why its skeleton is somewhat prehistoric. As for the Cyclops, any humanoid creature born with one eye would also have a great many other defects and medical issues, so we covered him in tumorous growths. Again, we wanted to give the creatures some basis in reality…
In regards to the use of the “Hellboy” colour red, Hall claims on his blog that originally the Cyclops was to be gray, but that visually this created a problem.
For the record, the reason we even went with red was, a) it made sense in terms of the story and b) if we didn’t change the color, the Cyclops would disappear into all the gray and white of the snowy mountains. (Enlightened Words)
Regarding the general controversy, he added to the Backbrain:
I have only read a handful of issues of Hellboy and haven’t picked any of Mike’s work up in years. It’s not anything I have against him. It’s more that I feel the less I have been exposed to Mignola’s work, the less people can claim he’s influenced the storyline. Knowing that Daniel’s art style is similar to Mike’s, I kind of feel obligated not to let the story be influenced by Mignola’s work as well. The one thing I do know about Hellboy is that it’s based on a lot of research. I admire that, because I have done a ton of research in writing Robot 13 and will do a mountain more before the series is done. But the fact that Mike and I are both library cardholders is about all I can say that connects the two storylines. There might be more, but I wouldn’t know if it bit me.
It’s worth noting, too, that Daniel’s art has continued to evolve and has really been becoming its own thing. All you have to do is open up issue 3 to see how beautiful his work has become. He’s going beyond his influences and it is exciting for me to be a part of that.
You can pick up Issue Three of Robot 13 on 10 March and make up your own mind. No, wait! That’s a dumb reason to pick up a copy. Get one because Robot 13 is a great read!