I had a plan for what I was going to review originally, but it’s been a hell of a week. I imagine when I say that, most people reading this a nodding. Hell of a week. And I could go on and on and on explaining why it was a hell of a week to me, but you already know, because even if there are different details to my hell of a week than your hell of a week, the events that helped create those details are all the same. So what’s the point?
It’s with that experience that I noticed, by accident, Michael Allred’s new book X-Ray Robot #1. All it took was one look and I said to myself, “That’s exactly what I need at the end of this hell of a week.” I mean, if you had asked me prior to seeing this comic what would’ve made a nice ending to my week, what would have picked up my mood and helped me step away, just for a little, tiny moment, from the confusing nightmare of the reality outside my house, there is a chance that I might’ve answered, “Maybe something about a robot, maybe with an x-ray aspect.” I might have. We don’t know that I wouldn’t.
But I’m fine to admit that X-Ray Robot #1 is more likely the thing I needed that I didn’t know I needed. Michael Allred apparently knew I needed it, though.
The last thing I read by Allred was his surprisingly enjoyable Dick Tracy series, and that was probably the first thing I’ve read by him in years. It was nice to see he still had his touch, and so when I saw that he had turned his attention to a goofy science fiction superhero-ish kind of concept, that seemed like a good bet.
In X-Ray Robot #1, Allred introduces readers to a team of research scientists who are sort of doing robotics research, but it’s evolved into something more complicated involving space and dimensional stuff that is very sophisticated and hard for a simple guy like me to understand. The important thing is that the brilliant and handsome Dr. Max Wilding understands it.
But there are still surprises in store for Dr. Max Wilding, and a mishap in the experiment brings scientific victories but also many curious and confusing results that are mind-bending and absurd, and poised to set up more than one goofy, incredible, exciting circumstance that Dr. Max Wilding has to contend with.
X-Ray Robot has the trappings of a late-era Steve Ditko comic — say Shade the Changing Man or Machine Man — but is obviously more self-aware than anything Ditko would’ve have done. But one of Allred’s strengths is that he never lets the self-awareness seize control of the sincere oddness of his concepts and execution, so X-Ray Robot manages to remain in tune with that Ditko comparison in a genuine way.
Thank you, X-Ray Robot, for saving me from this hell of a week. Here’s hoping you manage to save others from their hell of a week as well.