Lots of publishers have special covers or even special issues of comics for conventions, and now comiXology, Red 5 Comics, and the folks who run this weekend’s Emerald City Comic Con have come up with a new spin on the con exclusive: A digital comic that is available to anyone who has a badge—and no one else, at least for a few days. Every ECCC badge will have a download code for the comic Atomic Robo: Along Came a Tyrantula, a one-shot comic by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegner, and the comic will go on sale to the general, non-con-going public on March 6.
Atomic Robo is a comedy sci-fi series that is a fun read and not burdened with continuity, as Clevinger and Wegner tell their story in self-contained arcs. The title character is a robot scientist, designed by Nikola Tesla, who is one of a team of Action Scientists who work for Tesladyne Industries as sort of a rapid-response team for various types of emergencies. In Along Came a Tyrantula, Atomic Robo must contend with a rival scientist who has a romantic obsession with him and is piloting a robot tarantula. It’s that sort of battle-with-witty-dialogue story that comics do so well.
I was impressed with the comic, which was designed using comiXology’s proprietary Guided View technology. Up till now, I have seen Guided View mainly as a way to make a print comic readable on a screen that’s smaller than the standard page size: It allows the reader to pan across the page and zoom in on one panel at a time. That’s not what’s happening in this comic, though. Instead, each swipe brings up new word balloons, a new panel, or a change in the page; it’s not unlike Marvel’s Infinite Comics in that the swipes don’t necessarily turn the page, they bring in new elements. This has been done before, but this particular comic is distinguished by the many different ways in which the reveals occur. Panels appear and disappear and overlap one another as you swipe your way through the book, and the creators have experimented with a lot of panel shapes and formats. At the same time, they avoid gimmicks and simply use this tool to tell an entertaining story in an original way.
If you haven’t been following Atomic Robo, this comic is a good jumping-on point, and if you can’t make it to Emerald City, you can also get Atomic Robo #1 and some Free Comic Book Day issues for free on comiXology while you wait for Along Came a Tyrantula to be released to the rest of the world.