Monday, July 18, 2011

Atomic Robo - The Most Bitter of Enemies - Ben Rosenthal

All panels take up the width of the page. Each panel appears underneath the proceeding one.

. We can see Atomic Robo from chest up, however he is on the far left hand side of the panel, only taking up about a third of it. The remainder of the panel is background, which I am quite happy for you to put whatever you think fits in there. It could be blank even (would certainly show that the focus should be on these two most bitter of enemies). Atomic Robo is staring intently to the right of the panel, but is facing the reader.

2. A man who is clearly a priest (your traditional black robe with the white thingy in the collar should convey it easily enough) is seen on the extreme right of the panel. Again, he takes up a third of the panel with the remainder being background. The priest is looking to the left of this panel, but like Atomic Robot is square on to the reader. He looks stern.

3. Same framing as Panel 1, with Atomic Robo not having moved much since the first panel.

4. Same framing as Panel 2, but the Priest is looking slightly concerned. Only slightly.

5. Same as Panel 4, however Atomic Robo’s hand is slapping the Priest. Hard. There’s spit and everything coming from the Priest’s mouth. It’s the greatest bitch slap ever.


  1. This is a good page, but made better by "It’s the greatest bitch slap ever." You've just given the artist licence to cut loose and I want to see that. Oterwise, a nice commentary, without commenting, on the age old argument.

  2. I'm kind of on the opposite side of it. I understand the idea behind the page, of course. But all I get out of it is Atomic Robo slapping a priest for some unknown reason and I'm left wondering 'Is he going somewhere with this?'.

    It's disappointing, because with all the options that Robo opens up, we're left with a page that has a man of science slapping a man of faith for no apparent reason other than the priest is a religious figure, a page where I think you could swap out Robo for any number of other characters and the page really wouldn't be all that different.

  3. Thanks for the comments.
    @MK - I agree with you. It is a luck lustre script when read purely what is on the page. However, I would like to think that when you re-read it and think about the subtext it becomes a little more apparent what the script is saying.

    As Ryan said, it's a commentary on the old Science v Religion debate. For that reason not other character could take Atomic Robo's place. He's a freaking Robot - he exists purely to science. From the limited amount I have read of Robo, he clearly lives FOR all things science as well.
    On the flip side we have a Priest, who lives only for their faith in religion and God.

    Before I start, I just want to point out that these are my opinions on the whole Science v Religion debate, so if there is to be any flaming direct it to me and not the awesomeness that is Thought Balloons.

    The first two panels represent the stalemate that the two beliefs are in - Science believes it is right because it believes in fact, where as Religion believes it has the answer due to their unyielding faith. Hence why both characters which represent their beliefs are stoic, and simply staring each other down.

    Here is where my own person views kick in.

    Panel 3 is Science unmoved. It is right, and it knows it.

    Panel 4 is religion hesitating...only slightly. It knows that it's time of dominance is running out. No longer can it claim all that it has claimed as Science is there to question its every move. It flinches, ever so slightly. This gives Science the move it has been waiting for, which is Panel 5.

    The bitch slap is the KO punch to Religion from Science. Religion faultered, and Science came in and took it down. Science is the winner.

    It being a slap is again my own little personal view thrown in - it's a degrading knock out punch. Not much was needed. Religion was on it's last legs.

    So, after that rambling I hope I have made it clear why no other character could have appeared in this page other than Atomic Robo. Either way thanks for the feedback :)

  4. It's interesting. The question hasn't really come up in Atomic Robo thus far (perhaps a conscious choice). Although I can appreciate the script for a lighthearted allegorical piece, the Robo purist in me can't help but feel he would be slightly more open. Just because it might not be his bag doesn't mean he'd necessarily unleash "the greatest bitch slap ever" on 'em. But maybe that's just me. :P

  5. To be honest, your explanation of the page causes me to feel worse about it and like it even less than I did when I didn't understand the subtext behind it all. :-\

  6. Ahahaha - May I ask why that is? Characterisation? Offensive? Poor writing? I'm curious to know :)

  7. Despite what some people may feel about it, there are a few questions regarding the setup.

    To say science has been fighting tooth and claw against religion is a fair bit of a stretch. It has only been in the past two centuries in which science has been attacked. Even then, its very loosely based off of the notes of a few bad historians. Much like the romancing of previous decades(blatant excuse to see "Midnight in Paris" btw).

    Take a gander over to the wiki page for the "relationship between religion and science". Might as well look for the series "Terry Jones:Medieval Lives" on your local Netflix service. Some of the stuff will blow your mind.

    Being that Robo tends to browse about in the action sciences, that might be something he has come across at least once.

  8. @ Ben: Part of it does boil down to having grown up in a religious household (my dad’s a pastor, no less). However, most of my distaste for the page comes from HOW you went about taking a jab at religion, rather than just that you decided to make it a science > religion page.

    As you’ve said in your explanation of the scene, your personal views on the religion vs. science debate comes heavily into play here. Based on what I’ve read of Robo (I own the first four TPBs and have the 5th reserved for when it comes out), what you have Robo do in this scene in order for it to match your personal views doesn’t match up with the characterization I’m familiar with.

    Robo does not strike me as the kind to go about hitting priests just because they happen to represent religion, let alone slapping them with “the greatest bitch slap ever”. Based on the page as we see it without any kind of background information explaining why these two are here or why Robo might be upset with the priest from an in-universe perspective, that’s what the page comes across as.

    What I COULD see Robo doing is verbally berating the Priest if the two were in an argument, or mocking the priest if the priest got on his nerves, or even giving him a dope slap if he were really ticked off or thought the Priest did/said something incredibly stupid. But unless the priest were to deliberately insult Atomic Robo or someone close to him in an overly obscene manner or threatened Robo with violence in a way that made the threat credible, I don’t see Robo using that level of violence on a priest.

    This is in large part my problem with the script – I see it as a page where you’ve derailed a character for the express purpose of getting your opinion across on a real-world issue (one that can be touchy at times, no less) and taking a striking jab at the other side. It would disappointing to see done with any character, but I find it especially sad when it’s being done through a character I rather enjoy reading.

    I also still don’t see how this is a page that could be done with Atomic Robo alone. Given the number of other science-based characters in comics, I feel like this could have just as easily done with any number of other characters that are dedicated to science. I don’t really see anything in this comic that makes it an ‘Atomic Robo’ script other than that it has ‘Atomic Robo’ written into it. There’s no real characterization, and nothing happens except a priest getting nervous before getting slapped.

    And that’s what it comes down to. I feel like Robo’s character and your page for him have both been sacrificed in the name of making a statement or argument or jab at something you disagree with, which I find to be rather disappointing.

    Certainly, you're free to use your pages however you see fit, I just hope you can understand where my criticism for this particular page comes from.

  9. I like this page for its simplicity. It's easy to visualise and gets its message across... no matter how controversial ;)

  10. @MK - Yup, completely get you. Thanks again for your honest feedback, very much appreciated.

  11. Didn't like it at first but I've warmed to it after your explanation/breakdown of it Ben.

    Also, kudos to trying something a bit different. I want to see the last panel drawn just because of the panel description alone.

    Also good to see this being discussed over on Brian Clevinger's site.


Feedback is what every good writer wants and needs, so please provide it in the white box below
If you want to play along at home, feel free to put your scripts under the Why? post for the week.