Writer: Mark Russell
Illustrator: Mike Deodato Jr.
Publisher: AWA Studios
WHAT IS IT?
Robots rule the workplace in the future, making humans obsolete and causing dissension in this satirical sci-fi miniseries debut issue.
Give Futurama a Black Mirror twist and you've nailed the tone of Not All Robots.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Not All Robots opens in the year 2056, where two robots and their token human debate human obsolescence. Because robots have replaced all human jobs -- except for hairdressing -- humanity serves the will of working-class robots. The future world is a wasteland, and humans were a disease. Now, privileged people live in "Bubble" cities with a robot assigned to each human household.
Tension between robot Razorball and his human family, the Walters, grinds Razorball's gears. Razorball refuses to interact with them and feels his life holds no meaning. Miserable, Razorball resents the Walters and worries about the development of better robots. A radical robot friend suggests Razorball remove his empathy chip to assuage his emotions.
Is it so wrong for Razorball to desire a family who truly loves him?
Venerated satirist Mark Russell pumps this issue with a plethora of wonderful gags and quippy dialogue. It doesn't matter if every joke lands or not (though, most do!), dark comedy helps broach hard topics about human flaws because it offers humor alongside introspection.
Artist Mike Deodato Jr. realistically draws Razorball and his robot compadres amicably. Similar in size to the humans, the robots visually look like equal mechanic counterparts to the obsolete humans.
Ubiquitous hues from Lee Loughridge bring a familiar sensory atmosphere to Deodato Jr.'s illustrations.
Loughridge injects this dystopia with dampened greens, blues, reds, and yellows fading into the page. The non-invasive coloring renders the wasteland and bubble societies in Not All Robots nearly devoid of life with robots at the working class helm.
In a comic where robots speak the majority of the dialogue, a distinguishing typeface remains essential. Fortunately, letterer Steve Wands opts for a classic electronic font style descending within speech bubbles like words being typed linearly on a screen.
When humans talk, Wands kerns their letters tightly together. Human words are angular, falling into each other as if they can't speak fast enough for the robots to register -- or care -- about anything the humans have to say.
Russell's satire works because he parodies numerous aspects of human existence where good-natured humor about capitalism, destructive greed, human obsolescence, or even incel culture, is available for multiple audiences.
Robot designs appear intricate and distinct from one another, yet retain similarities to show their consolidated power over the humans. Deodato Jr. should be lauded for his detailed linework, fully expressing the irony of man-made machinery resembling both machine and, well, man.
Drawing the robots with a non-threatening look amply juxtapose the tension between their appearances and the nonchalance of their murderous, threatening dialogue.
The comic is punctuated with sardonic humor, offsetting the rife thematic grimness. Talk-show host robots make casual jokes about human death on national television. Explicitly hilarious visual gags like the absurd Walter family photo display upon their mantle, or even the name "Razorball" for a robot are superlative examples of satire.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The toxic masculinity metaphor primarily works. Yet, the nearly universally shared human resentment of robots by the humans make readers feel sympathetic toward the casually homicidal robots. These contrasts create mixed messaging in an otherwise straightforward story with evident parallels to reality.
Dim colors reflect the societal dystopia, but shadows come across too harshly in a few scenes where brighter hues could have made a greater visual impact.
Like all of Mark Russell's satire, the story concept may not land with certain audiences the writing is clearly parodying.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Who doesn't enjoy a satiric sci-fi story about the inevitable robot revolution awaiting us all? In Not All Robots #1, readers are faced with a humorous, albeit, uncomfortable, look at the infinite capitalist cycle turning us all into working machines. There's no room for cognitive dissonance when reading this comic. Russell's script reflects present-day topics with scathing transparency. If you don't want to think about how we are all cogs in a machine graded on our usefulness until we are no longer useful, focus on laughing at this issues' hilarious gags.
It's fun to marvel at this futuristic world where humans' propensity for power-hungry destruction ultimately caused their own obsolescence. Just like Futurama suggests, Not All Robots #1 satirically shows how society's current problems will reinvent themselves as similar issues in the future. Environmentalism remains an ongoing topic as much as placing value on people based on their work efficiency.
Perhaps the "not all men" analogy will feel tighter as the series progresses. Regardless, every topic approached through biting satire and desolate illustrations will have you pondering the world at large, and your own self-worth, in Not All Robots #1.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Billionaire Island by Mark Russell & Steve Pugh
The Flintstones by Mark Russell & Steve Pugh
The Jetsons by Jimmy Palmiotti & Pier Brito
If you like the art:
The Resistance by J. Michael Straczynski & Mike Deodato Jr.
Infinity Wars by Gerry Duggan & Mike Deodato Jr.
Happy Hour by Peter Milligan & Michael Montenat
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Mark Russell – Writer (@Manruss)
Mark is the author of God Is Disappointed in You and a comic book writer who has worked for publishers like Marvel, DC, and AHOY Comics.
His comic titles include The Flintstones, Second Coming, Billionaire Island, and Fantastic Four: Life Story.
Award Winner: Russell won the 2019 GLADD Award for Outstanding Comic for his work on Exit Stage Left!: The Snagglepuss Chronicles.
Mike Deodato Jr. – Illustrator (@mikedeodato)
Mike is a comic book illustrator with credits that include Marvel’s Avengers, Elektra, The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, X-Men: Unlimited, and Thor.
Since 2019 has been working exclusively on creator-owned projects like Berserker Unbound, for Dark Horse and Bad Mother, Redemption and The Resistance for AWA Studios.
Outlander: Mike hails from João Pessoa, PB - Brasil.
Lee Loughridge – Colorist (@leeloughridge)
Prolific: Lee is a comic book colorist who has been working in the comic book industry for decades.
He is most well-known for his work on the Batman Adventures titles from DC Comics.
Award Winner: Lee was nominated for the International Horror Guild Award for best illustrated narrative in 2001 for his work on the comic edition of The House on the Borderland. He was also nominated for a Hugo Award for his work on Fables; War and Pieces, and was recognized for his work with a Comics' Buyer's Guide Favorite Colorist Award nomination in 2004.
Steve Wands – Letterer (@swands)
Multitalented: Steve is an indie author, artist, and comic book letterer.
He works on top titles at DC Comics, Image, and Random House. He’s the author of the Stay Dead series and Trail of Blood.
Most of his work has been for DC Comics titles.
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