Review: Vandroid #5

Hey remember when I thought Vandroid wasn’t worth another read after its first issue? I was so innocent back then. But here we are, the full five issues in, and while I maintain that its first wasn’t a great start for the series, what a fun kick in the pants this miniseries has ended up being! I’m very happy I decided to stick around for another issue, because from #2, I was hooked. Seriously, go back through my reviews and watch the rise of Vandroid; nobody has been more pleasantly surprised than me. Now, I still openly concede that this wasn’t what I was expecting from the original solicits, but if any Dark Horse title sums up the name of its publisher, it’s definitely Vandroid.

Okay, I know conventional logic dictates that you can’t build an entire story around a be-mulleted cyborg doing battle against an army of android commandos, sassy lady junkie-bots and gang crews so colorfully cast they rival The Warriors for diversity, but the thing is ... yes you totally can. That’s exactly what Vandroid #5 does, and it is, to borrow some 1980s parlance, pretty rad.

To be fair, there is a bit more going on in this book, and Tommy Lee Edwards and Noah Smith do an admirable job of wrapping things up here - at least as much as you could with a story this bonkers. Our wily Vandroid finally delivers some white-hot comeuppance on those that built and then sought to destroy him in the final issue, and the conflagration that ensues is as grand as you would expect.

Seriously, you should buy this book for the elevator fight scene alone. (Pro Tip: Any time anyone tells you to watch or read something with “an elevator scene,” it’s a good idea to at least consider it.) I’ve often said that Vandroid as a whole doesn’t tap into its raison d'être - that being a loving homage to ludicrous 1980s science fiction movies - nearly as much as it possibly could, but this issue makes up for it; at least in the level-by-level brouhaha that ensues halfway through.

Vandroid #5 Cover copy 2After all, nothing quite says 80s action like an inanely bloody scuffle between robots and themed gangs, which here include everyone from your classic punks to professional wrestlers to insane asylum patients and even disco samurai swordsmen on roller skates. The dialogue consists of painfully cheesy hero lines and woefully cliched villainous grandstanding, all amidst buttloads of blood (there’s a mental image) and even a triumphantly lingering bro-bot high five. That’s what you call “something for everybody,” kids. And that’s not even yet mentioning the art.

Dan McDaid and colorist Melissa Edwards destroy these pages. I honestly can’t recall a book as furiously kinetic and vibrant as Vandroid #5, which says a lot. McDaid’s stuff here is billowy and wet with explosion, and as laden his layouts are with a blur of wanton destruction, it’s crystal clear that he’s having a ball in this action-packed issue. Whether he’s melting androids in perfume or using the lead character to amputate, disembowel or decapitate his foes, everything this issue sings with gristly gusto; just like any good action star.

Like I said in a review before for Vandroid, I love being wrong. The entire crew here - up to and including the lettering of under-sung talent John Workman, who again proves his name valid here - does a great job of fleshing out this story with a shiny veneer of hype and mania, with this issue particularly standing out for sheer explosiveness. It may not be exactly the 80s robot adventure you were expecting, but this is damn good, unfettered fun in comic book form, and I’m glad as hell I saw it through to its neon-grid-framed end. Vandroid #5 (out of 5) gets 5 (out of 5) from me.

Score: 5/5

Writers: Tommy Lee Edwards & Noah Smith Artist: Dan McDaid Colorist: Melissa Edwards Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 6/25/14 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital