Cosmic Times Publishing’s newest miniseries, Giant Robot Warrior Maintenance Crew, is a mecha-centric action series that aims to deconstruct the genre. Written by Nate Hill with art by Mervyn McKoy, the first issue is mostly what you’d expect from the title, with a few nice surprises.
Giant humanoid robots have been around since the mid-1950s and most of us have at least some experience with the genre. Shows like Voltron: Defender of the Universe and Power Rangers brought about their rise in popularity in America. Around the world giant robots have permeated all forms of media. This book is a satire of shows specifically like Voltron.
The robot in this story is aptly named Herotron and he travels the universe defending humanity and their empire. Herotron faces off against The Sludge Monsters of Sageis Four and the terrible Venom Beast. However, this story doesn’t focus on Herotron’s battles. We’re instead following Erica, a new engineer working on the robot’s maintenance crew. A lifelong admirer of the robot, Erica joins the crew when she fails the pilot test and it’s through her we discover the cracks in Herotron’s facade.
The pilots are led by an egomaniac who nearly kills the crew during every fight. Herotron is described as over-budget and underperforming. The sole reason the robot hasn’t been decommissioned is that it looks cool and people are willing to pay for that. It’s clear that the creators are familiar with the tropes of the campier shows. A lot of these ideas are amusing and the satire works well.
The book falters a little when it comes to Erica. She’s a brilliant and capable engineer. She comes through when the crew needs her and she’s unquestionably brave. However, some of her dialogue falls a little flat. She’s pretty consistently upset that she chose this job. She brings up that she could have had any job she wanted. Then, rather than leave when given the chance, she simply decides ‘ah what the hell’ and stays with the crew. I didn’t feel like that moment was earned through the story.
The art in the book is fine for the most part. McKoy’s layouts assist in pacing the story properly, and the action sequences work really well. However, I found some of the character’s expressions to be too over the top. I recognize the book has a light tone, but a little restraint would have been appreciated.
All in all, this is a fun book. It’ll make you grin, if not laugh out loud. It’s good, but it’s not as good as it could be. However it’s an idea with a lot of promise and hopefully issue #2 brings it home. The issue is available at the publisher’s website: www.cosmictimes.net/shop