In this, the Dark Horse series’ penultimate issue, our titular robotic hero, The Vandroid, breaks out of the tight predicament in which he found himself last time; that being, captured by his creator’s nemeses and the architects of his demise (well, other than himself), so that they can study him and build an army of perfect killing machines. He does this by committing a bevy of wondrous acts. These include the following: stabbing someone in the forehead with a massive industrial conduit, exploding the fuck out of an evil lab via same, calling in his scantily-clad, chain gun-wielding “Vanettes” for ground support, somehow getting laid even though he presumably doesn’t have working human genitalia and, of course, getting a full-back tattoo of himself as a crusading centaur walking across a sea of fire. And yes, I know what you’re thinking, because I did too: “Why in the blue fuck didn’t I think of that last one!?”
Throughout what must have been a very trying ordeal, Vandroid loses someone important to him, gains an old friend while waging war against another, kills a clown using a walker and, with dialogue like “Rad to the max” and “Take a chill pill,” joins in on the hokiest fucking trash-talking you may ever read in a comic book, which I think we can all agree is saying a lot.
Still, in its fourth and near-final issue, Vandroid continues to please me with its firm and unwavering commitment to being absolutely ridiculous. That was something that didn’t start well in this book for me; I thought it missed the mark and was trying too hard, but ever since then, this thing has been set to cruise control in the most delightful way.
I’m still not sure it’s hitting the right chords with its shaky treatment of the 1980s, other than picking the low-hanging vernacular fruit each issue. That, combined with its very “after school special” treatment of substance abuse this time - while undoubtedly intentional - feels hopelessly contrived in issue four, but without altogether ruining its simple and satisfying reading experience.
One thing that no longer falters is the art. Like the story, it’s simple and stylized, but Dan McDaid has a whole lot of fun not just doing massive, page-washing action scenes, but also shredding the hell out of his layouts. It may not do so with finesse, and it doesn’t necessarily feel particularly “80s,” but his style also feels like a throwback, and one that is welcome in the same way that, again, Francesco Francavilla’s might be. While we’re on the subject of art, I also want to mention Tommy Lee Edwards’ cover for being out of this fucking world! Just amazing stuff.
Also, letterer John Workman does a bang-up job here in a story that is saturated with his work, and he deserves a lot of credit for providing a tapestry of atmosphere through his word-play.
Much, indeed, like a faux-sentient automaton built over three decades ago might, Vandroid #4 wanders about clunkily and with all the subtlety of wraparound sunglasses, airbrushed automobiles and murder mullets, but it’s also a whole lot of stupid fun for under five bucks. I’ll be looking out for its final issue next time, and while I may suggest you hold fire on buying single floppies before its trade inevitably hits, this is one book you’ll want to check out, if for nothing else than for great shits and giggles.
Writers: Tommy Lee Edwards & Noah Smith Artist: Dan McDaid Colorist: Melissa Edwards Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 05/28/14 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital