Indie Comic Crit: iBotics


by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Isaac Asimov conceived Three Laws of Robotics. In short, they said that no robot would harm a human, robots would take orders from humans (except for violations of the first law) and a robot must protect its own existence (as long as it didn’t violate the first two laws). It’s the first and third law on display in iBotics, a new comic from I’m a Geek Entertainment. The one-shot is written by Bobby B. Smith and Chris Johnson, illustrated by JP de la Rama and colored by Chris Allen.

Sergeant Eric David is a war hero who was crippled in another time. Now, he helps manage iRobotica for the US Government, manning a large mech in combat and wheelchair everywhere else. He was one of the creative minds behind Goliath, a presumably self-aware robot dispatched to deal with crime throughout the world. That is until Goliath decided he was done taking orders from the military and went rogue against civilians.

Smith and Johnson have written a story that is somewhat conflicting. On the one hand, it boasts a perverse twist on the “Little Lost Robot” story in <i>I, Robot</I>, in that Goliath seeks to overthrow his human masters, thus violating all Three Laws of Robotics. On the other hand, Goliath and the robots were created primarily to deal with what is apparently a zombie outbreak that is sweeping over the world. iBotics never really decide what it wants to be.

On the surface, combining rebellious robots with a zombie outbreak seems like an interesting scenario. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite click in iBotics. The zombie apocalypse is given very little attention within the grand scheme of things and seems almost like it was included only as a reason for making Goliath and the robots to begin with. It’s part of a larger problem with the issue, in that it’s hard to pin down
exactly who (or what) is the main antagonist.

Throughout the issue, Sergeant David and his team fight drug lords, zombies, robots and bureaucracy, none of whom really seem to be that much of a threat. Sure, Goliath can mow down just about anyone, but the drug lords and zombies just seem like cannon fodder. There’s a stereotypical bureaucrat on board who is there to just yell and puff up his chest and Sergeant David himself starts the issue off fine
killing Canadian zombies, but hesitating when faced with American zombies. And, of course, there’s a love interest for Sergeant David who also happens to be the chief scientist in the iRobotica.

The art by de la Rama features little in the way of detail or intricacy. The giant mech that Sergeant David pilots looks a little too human in one panel and the zombies look fairly simple, like something you would see in Tales from the Crypt. Even the Goliath robot looks like a cross between Robocop and Iron Man, showing very little in the way of imagination. Faces show little in the way of emotion and there are some renderings of the characters from a distance with no facial details at all.

There are also artistic inconsistencies, as in one panel, David’s mech has a cannon for a right arm, but in the rest he has a fist. This is evident on the cover as well, where the mech’s right hand features something like a gatling gun. Of course, it’s feasible that the hand can be replaced by weaponry, but it’s not really mentioned in the book at all. The cover also doesn’t really invoke a sense of peril for David,considering he’s shown overpowering Goliath and all but defeating him before the book starts.

In the end, iBotics seems a little too ambitious. As a main character, Sergeant David was equally as disjointed, vacillating between rousing hero and shell-shocked humanitarian. The comic (likely with self-deference) even refers to the robot versus human battle as David vs. Goliath, with the names appropriately in place as well. It seems like iBotics really wanted to be a story about robots turning on humans, but there was an unnecessary zombie plague added in for whatever reason. The story as a whole is something of a scattered assortment of ideas and concepts, loosely held together by a single main character.

Check out a five-page preview here.

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