Graphic Novel Review: Robots plus zombies equals iBotics

I have a great respect for independent comic artists.  As a writer, I know how difficult it is to create a story.  Coming up with characters, a plot, scenes, and just trying to create something that other people will enjoy is hard.  For a comic artists to do all that and illustrate everything?  Kudos to all of you.

Recently I got a sneak peak at an upcoming comic by “Im a Geek Entertainment.”  “Im a Geek Entertainment” started back in 2010 and is local to my city of St Paul, MN.  Bobby Smith has been working these past few years to expand his brand, being featured in a few anthologies and writing his own graphic novel, “Arcana Studio’s Last Ninja.”

His latest work, “iBotics,” has a little bit of everything.  Literally.  A post-apocalyptic universe where our country is being ravished by zombies, the solution to the crisis lies in robots.  However, a glitch in their programming results in the robots turning their guns on innocent civilians.  Our main hero, Eric, has to worry about flesh-eating zombies and killer robots while questioning the morals of it all.  Can they really kill these zombies that use to be human like the rest of them?  Can they really take out the robots when they’re responsible for killing them?

Always remember, kids, do NOT piss off the robots.

There’s a lot of positives with this comic.  I am a big fan of the art.  The style is sort of sketchy, as in, you can picture the artist sketching the lines and characters on a piece of paper.  The art really comes through with the brutal killings of the zombies and civilian victims.  There’s something about the expressions on their faces; that hand stretching out, seeking help, or the dark shadows that reveal a wide, dead eye as bullets pierce through their bodies.

I’m also a big fan of the characters.  I love that Eric is in a wheelchair.  I love that he doesn’t let this handicap slow him down.  He fights as hard as the rest of the characters, using his mech suit and approaching the battlefield with no fear.  There is a love interest in the story, but I like that the two of them aren’t incredibly sappy.  Eric and Kim are pretty realistic with each other.  They lay in bed, discussing the situation, and they know that they’re in deep shit and can die tomorrow.  There’s no oozing romance of “I love you” — but the phrase is said.  There’s no tears, no moments of, “Please don’t leave me.”  They’re not needed.  The world has gone down the crapper and they have each other, but that doesn’t create a cheesy romance.  Their relationship feels genuine.

Also, it’s a nice touch for the love scene to take place in Eric’s wheelchair.

The only problem I have with the story — which, sadly, is a big deal — is the pacing of it.  I like the thought of humans creating robots to take care of the zombie apocalypse, only to have said robots turn on them.  That’s fine.  In fact, that’s interesting.  I also like the issues Eric has with everything.  However… all of this is done in a little over thirty pages.  That… is not nearly enough time to cover everything this story is addressing.  The pacing is too fast.  Scenes end too quickly.  You want the comic to be longer than it is just so certain scenes can be longer.  You want a bigger battle leading to the climax of Eric taking on “Goliath,” also known as the killer robot.  One minute, he’s giving the soldiers a pep talk.  The next minute, they’re on the battlefield.  Then he’s sleeping with Kim and having a moment of, “What in God’s name are we doing,” before rushing out to take out the robots.  It’s too fast and I think the book could’ve — and should’ve — been longer than thirty-something pages.

A computer glitch? Or did someone forget to add a zero at the end of the code?

I’m fine with unanswered questions: how did the glitch happen?  That can be answered later, sure, maybe in a sequel of sorts.  I don’t always need answers to my zombie attacks, or if do get an answer I can get it later.  However, things like, “When did the humans start fighting back with robots?  How long has this chaos been going on?”  I want answers to that, now, especially if Eric is going to have a change of heart and want to cure the infected instead of kill them.  This isn’t his first time dealing with them, why the sudden urge to help them?  If I knew how long this war had been going on maybe I could get a sense as to why Eric wants to find a cure.  I’m assuming that it didn’t just start yesterday, but has it been weeks?  Months?  Years?

The other thing that bothers me is the font and the placing of some of the speech bubbles.  Sometimes it was hard to keep track of who was talking in scenes, or what was being said in what order.  There’s a scene where Eric and Kim are laying in bed, talking, and a good portion of the page layout is speech bubbles connected to one another to show their conversation together.  It’s a bit hard to see when Kim is finished talking and when Eric starts talking, especially since he interrupts her.  Also, when the robots talk, it’s a black speech bubble with dark green font.  The text style that’s used makes it hard to read at times, some of the letters looking squished together.  At times, the grammar is off.  The English major in me noticed parts when Eric would say, “General.  All due respect…” instead of, “General.  With all due respect…”

See you in space, cowboy?

I truly do hope that there is another volume to this story.  The fight is far from over.  Why did the robots turn on everyone?  Is there no end to the zombie chaos?  Is Eric going to be able to find a cure?  And of course, there’s the last page that ends with the words, “The End?”  No, Bobby Smith, it is not the end — at least, I hope it isn’t, because you’ve got an interesting story and I want to read more of it.

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About Briana Lawrence

A geeky girl that's cosplaying as an adult -- sort of -- I've been into video games since I watched my mom save the princess in Super Mario Brothers when I was six years old. A couple of years later, anime would be added in my on-going list of geekery when I discovered a certain vampire hunter who had a hand that talked to him. I'm currently living in St. Paul with my wonderful partner who feeds my nerdtastic needs of anime conventions, watching Persona 4 on Hulu, and trying to beat the crap out of people like Nightmare or rolling up things with a katamari ball. The both of us cosplay together and do artist alley tables, selling the crafty things we make like plushies, woodburned coasters, shotglasses, and other things. The two of us recently purchased a house together, took a room, and painted it with Pac-Man, Sonic, Portal, Star Fox, Katamari, and other gaming gems before we combined our massive game/anime/action figure collections. Up next? Painting our bathroom in an underwater mario theme! I would say I need professional help, but I'm a lost cause at this point. Besides, all men, women, and zombies are created equal!