Alex and Freddy are just your everyday robotic children – mischievous, innocent and quite clearly metallic. At a glance they could be your typical bots (sorry boys) next door but their extraordinary powers make normality a superhuman stretch of the imagination.
The fantastical is subtly balanced with the everyday as humorously highlighted by the gentle bullying of the robo bros whose eating habits are questioned by the relatively incongruous lunch-time observation that nuts and bolts appear to be their meal of choice rather than the pasta dish preferred by their peers.
Sentience and this ability to feel and perceive is the key difference between the stars of this comic and other more traditional robots. Effectively they are human in everything but appearance and these emotional characteristics are captured by the teasing and provoking of the elderly brother by the more mischievous younger one.
Robot 23 is the archetypal nemesis operating in the shadows and preparing for a catastrophic terror act. The climactic denouement forces the brothers to expose their powers and as the confrontation escalates they begin to lose their childish innocence which is the inevitable emotional casualty of life as a superhero.
The thwarted ambition to keep their other-worldly talents “dumbed down” casts a nod at the trials of Superman and his surrogate parents struggles to conceal his extraordinary powers as a way of retaining his innocence, and sense of normality, for as long as possible.
Neill Cameron’s animation is clean and stylish and as with all successes in this storytelling genre if the pictures can tell the story then the narrative is almost there in a supporting role to complement the striking images rather than detract from them.
On a general note the comic stories produced by Phoenix are a reaffirmation of the simplicity and beauty of pictures and words together and their power to stimulate the imagination. Computer games and their immediacy in many ways atrophy the power of creative thought which is why the likes of mega robo bros should be championed and with their combination of futuristic ideas, contemporary values and captivating illustrations there’s no reason why these comics shouldn’t be re-classified as retro and cool.
Mega Robo Bros by Neill Cameron (published by David Fickling books, price £9.99)
- Rich review rating: