By Oliver Gerlach
Super Robot Mayhem seems to be half way between Pacific Rim and Alien, and if that isn’t a pitch that at least sounds fun to you then I’m not convinced you have any sense of adventure. It’s a story of sinister alien histories and giant smashy robots and, although there isn’t a lot of robot mayhem in this first issue, there’s a lot to like in here.
Honestly, so far, this is mostly just Alien with a larger core cast. An investigation of an abandoned ship discovers sinister Giger-influenced creatures, and disaster ensues. By the last few pages, however, there are clear signs that Super Robot Mayhem is going to turn into something much brighter and more bombastic, and that’s honestly pretty damn exciting. I think there’s a lot of potential in here for something massively entertaining, and what we have so far is a very solid start.
The issue builds smoothly from a slow and sinister start to a large and exciting climax, deftly setting up the world and characters, all of which are so far straightforward and familiar but not one dimensional. This is very much influenced by earlier works rather than slavishly copying them, and there’s a lot of genuine creativity in there; it’s just using established shorthands to sketch out areas as efficiently as possible, which is not a problem at all. Also, one of those major characters is disabled, and there’s an unusual level of gender and racial diversity visible so far. Good job, team. We could do with more sci-fi adventure that remembers to do things like that.
The art is lovely, taking a clear manga influence and softening some of the lines to make a hyper-expressive style that never drifts too far into absurdity. Bordon’s faces are particularly good; there’s a lot of character to all of them, and a strong sense of personality. A lot of his alien designs are very clearly influenced by Giger’s designs for Alien, but more and more individuality and creativity creeps in as the issue progresses. Beyond that, his storytelling is very clear and straightforward; the page layouts are always simple and, while I sometimes felt like more exciting things could have been done with some pages, they all flow very well. Bordon’s composition on the high-impact splash pages is also very good; there are a couple of pages that I had to stop and appreciate in greater detail.
The production on the book is also very nice; I don’t know how the pages are divided between the three colourists, but the limited palette is very effective and well chosen. As with the pencils, the colours never really do anything particularly out-there and exciting, but they do their job very clearly. There’s also some very effective use of soft focus effects, although that seems a little inconsistent. The lettering is also clear and straightforward, although I’m not convinced by the design choices for the narrative boxes; it doesn’t quite work with the context for me.
Super Robot Mayhem #1 may be a little lacking in the advertised robot mayhem, but it’s a fun read that’s very technically accomplished, even if it’s not necessarily doing anything particularly unique so far. Given the progression from overt influences to novel creativity throughout this issue, I have high hopes for future issues continuing that trend and showing something really bright and engaging.
Super Robot Mayhem #1
Writers: Jeremy Biggs
Artists: Javier Bordon
Colours: Javier Bordon, Yel Zamor, Jeremy Biggs
Letters: Jon Scrivens
Publisher: Subversive Comics