I’m going to confess something about which I am deeply embarrassed. It just occurred to me today that Dr. Dinosaur represents pseudo-science. I just…I don’t know. I was enjoying the silliness so much I missed the symbolism? Anywhodles, Dr. Dinosaur is pseudo-science. He uses sciency sounding words, makes shit up, becomes defensive when challenged, refuses to admit he’s wrong, and wreaks havoc trying to prove he is smarter than science.
The Atomic Robo series is clearly influenced by the Saturday Matinee Serial movies of the early 20th century. For all the danger and action adventure, there hasn’t been any real feeling that Robo was in danger. It has been a lighthearted adventure in a world like ours, but where Nikolai Tesla and science are respected. But a vein of darkness started to appear in the 2013 Free Comic Book Day issue – Project Saint. Project Saint starts off innocently enough, but at the end it is revealed that there is a group, probably government related, who are looking for a way to eliminate Robo.
In The Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur, two elements are working to bring Robo and Tesladyne down – a shadowy government group and Dr. Dinosaur. Someone has set Robo up to look like he has been doing naughty things with nukes and he has been declared a terrorist, so he decides to go investigate some cryptid sightings. He takes a team of three and leaves Tesladyne in Jenkins’ hands. This seems like a good idea, because Jenkins is even tougher than Robo. This volume divides into two stories – the story of Robo and his team discovering the Hollow Earth and facing off with Dr. Dinosaur and his “time bomb,” and the staff left at Tesladyne facing down an assault by Majestic, the shadowy government agency first seen in Project Saint. Despite the insane presence of Dr. Dinosaur, this volume isn’t as fun as previous volumes. It has many funny moments, but the assault on Tesladyne gives the volume a previously unseen pathos. At the end of the volume, things look grim for everyone, and especially for Robo, who finds himself somewhere and somewhen he is not supposed to be.
In The Knights of the Golden Circle, Robo is stranded in Colorado in 1870. He is separated from his team and from the technology on which he usually depends. To make matters worse, he is dying. And worse than that, his arch-nemesis, the mad Nazi scientist Baron von Helsingard, is also somewhen he shouldn’t be and plans to change the future. Robo joins forces with two historical figures – Doc Holiday and U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves. Holiday and Reeves assume Robo is wearing armor. Marshall Bass Reeves is an interesting man. He was born into slavery and escaped to the Indian Territories as a young man. He lived among the tribes and was said to have learned tracking from them. After the Civil War, he was invited to be the first African American Deputy U.S. Marshall west of the Mississippi and worked in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. His career and legacy were impressive, and require further investigation. The end of volume 9 leaves us with a lot of questions and a time paradox. Volume 10 is underway, and it will be interesting to finally find out what happened to Jenkins, what does Robo’s time dislocation do to the space-time continuum, what happened to Dr. Dinosaur, and how will Robo and the Action Scientists of Tesladyne get out of this mess?
Volume 8 was the last volume of the Atomic Robo series printed by Red 5 Comics. Volume 9 is only available on line. Since Atomic Robo is available online for free, please use the CBR buyhole to buy something else. We are raising money to fight cancer.
Remember, Dr. Dinosaur is a symbol for pseudo-science. Don’t take his advice.