Robotika: For a Few Rubles More (Archaia – Sheikma / Moran / Chua)
A steampunk sushi samurai western about loyalty, honor and revenge, in a world populated by silent samurai, fast-talking geisha, deadly mecha-betsushikime, digital djihits, morphing butterflies, and corporate corruption. Niko, a member of the elite bodyguard corps dedicated to protecting the queen, is sent on a mission to recover a stolen invention that in the wrong hands could trigger a bloody civil war. Violence and chaos reign everywhere on the fringes of a “civilized” society where few couldn’t care less about Niko and his mission…
The above blurb is actually from the first Robotika series, I included it because I thought it would give a bit of Archaia’s take on the series.
Robotika caught me completely off guard. I went in thinking this was sort of fist-to-cuffs samurai-western action adventure set in a sci-fi fantasy world. At a very basic level, I was right, but Robotika is much deeper than that. A good film analogy might be that I went into a movie expecting “Starship Troopers” and instead got “Blade Runner”.
The story (by Alex Sheikman and David Moran) is a prime example of a thoughtful (if not abstract) science fiction tale from the independent realms. The narrative throws the reader right in the world, without any sort of “Lucas”-like scrolling intro. And we have to piece together what is going on from conversation and little details thrown here and there. In doing this, the author rewards intelligent readers with an incredible plot, rich in detail and exploration… but if you are a skimmer, you know one of those readers that bypass anything longer than a sentence and just look at splash pages / action shots (while Robotika does have that) you will miss out big time here. While I personally wnjoy the Phillip K. Dick / William Gibson approach to things, the big negative is that I did have to read through a couple times and I am still not 100% sure that I have the essence of the “Robotika” world down. Not the easiest plot to piece together, but well worth it.
While whether you like your stories tough and hard to decipher or easy and spoon-fed is sometimes a matter of personal taste, everyone and their grumpy brother will love the art of Robotika! The partnership of Alex Sheikman and Joel Chua is amazing! Through the expert use of edge, shade and color – the art physically takes you from the forefront to the background and back again, actually directing the story. This is one of the best examples I have ever seen of the art actually being part of the story-telling, much like a good cinematography does for a film, rather than just being a medium for the story.
Robotika has been in a limbo for a while, because of the strange happenings over at Archaia, but it is back and well worth your hard-earn geek dollar!
Issue Grade: a very sophisticated A