Dr. Max Wilding’s life is about to get weird… Will he survive the experience? Your Major Spoilers review of X-Ray Robot #1 awaits!
Writer: Michael Allred
Artist: Michael Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Naite Piekos of Blambot
Editor: Daniel Chabon
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: March 18, 2020
Previously in X-Ray Robot: Max is a family man seeking a more interesting life. While conducting a new experiment at work, the fabric of his reality is torn before his eyes, and a robotic figure appears, claiming to be his 277-year-old self. The robot is able to “X-Ray” multiple dimensions and battles a nihilistic entity from another dimension who wants to take all life to its “Pre-Big Bang” status…
A MAN, A PLAN, A ROBOT…
We open with Dr. Max Wilding, completing the blueprints for his dimension-traveling robot project, worrying that he won’t get the necessary funding. Thanks to an unpleasant moment, he gets not only the bump in funding, but a new scientist (more on that) later, allowing them to complete the prototype and launch it into the dimensional void. Max’s mind is tied to the automaton as it goes, and while we don’t see what he sees, the experience is clearly traumatic for him. When the Phase 2 trial begins, Max’s robot phases out of existence, and his brain literally leaps from his head in a psychedelic lightshow, leading to a strange merging of man and machine, followed by the arrival of ANOTHER X-Ray Robot…
…one who introduces himself as Dr. Max Wilding, 277 years into the future, and who needs the help of the entire crew to stave off the end of mankind itself!
…AND AN UNEXPECTED COMPLICATION
I have one major complaint about this issue, and it comes in the very first few pages of the book: Max witnesses his boss, Mr. Reynolds, sexually harassing fellow scientist Marnie, resulting in her demanding that he reassign her to the X-Ray Robot program, followed by Max informing him that they’ll also need a larger budget. It’s a bit disturbing to see the situation, though it’s not exactly played for laughs, treated so lightly for the story. It’s quickly forgotten and left behind, but it does affect my enjoyment of the issue. The rest of the story is fast-paced science/adventure, and the “action” sequences of the X-Ray Robot traveling through time are beautifully drawn throughout the issue, especially the final page moment where the robot floats upward, seemingly bending time and space as he insists on his younger self’s help. Max’s hallucinations of his family dying (reminiscent of Sarah’s hallucinations during ‘Terminator 2’) are utterly horrifying, as well, making for a truly impressive collection of visual storytelling.
BOTTOM LINE: PURE ALLRED JOY (MOSTLY)
For me, the degree of success in this issue is going to hinge on how sensitive you are to seeing Marnie groped as a minor plot point, almost played for black comedy. The rest of X-Ray Robot #1 is well-drawn and features some fun plotting and an interesting mystery, with some lovely character touches (like one of the robot’s being named Dr. Osamu, after the creator of earlier comic robot ‘Astro Boy’) that bring it all to life, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars from me. As with any review, mileage may vary, and readers who are sensitive to depictions of sexual harassment should proceed with due caution.
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X-RAY ROBOT #1
It's a very good first issue (with one notable problem) full of mystery and suspense, all delivered with Allred's trademark brilliance on the art.