X-Ray Robot is a Retro Sci-Fi Revival

The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns are a perfect time to read comics, but they’re not the best time to keep up with comics. I have had some trouble myself and have mostly been reading older stuff of my own. I knew that a new comic was coming from Madman creator Mike Allred, but that was before the world turned upside down. I put X-Ray Robot by Mike Allred on hold and finally got around to picking it up and reading it. Luckily for everyone, the second issue isn’t due until September, since everything is off schedule, so you can still catch up fairly quickly.

Madman is one of my favorite comic book characters because of his perfect mix of simplicity and complexity and the silliness and contemplation that accompanies him. I always enjoy Allred’s art, which I think adds a whole other dimension to whatever the story is. It’s like refined Sunday newspaper comics art. I’m not always a Fantastic Four fan, but I suddenly saw it differently when Allred took over as the artist, and I enjoyed every issue. Laura Allred’s work as the colorist this time around elevates the work even further. Everything is a little dark and gloomy right now, so it’s the perfect time for a lighter, more upbeat creation from Allred. Enter X-Ray Robot.

My Madman shirt

X-Ray Robot is a four-issue series from Dark Horse that follows scientist Max Wilding as he attempts to succeed in interdimensional travel. The comic doesn’t specify the period, but it has a retro, maybe 1960’s feel like much of Allred’s work. The basic premise is not something wholly unique, but it does touch on a lot of things that I don’t mind seeing revisited. There are classic sci-fi experimentation elements, a similar feel to iconic comic book origins, and a cool looking robot.

What I like about the comic is that it’s fun, quick, and easy to read. Although there’s not a lot of heavy material, there is a lot to look at. This is definitely a comic that calls for a second flip through to really appreciate the art. There are beautiful splash pages exactly where they should be. These gorgeous pages give the comic a grander feel and make it seem more than worth the cover price. Some of the entertaining science fiction sequences even push into the psychedelic realm. Think of the monster’s creation scenes in Frankenstein, but in FULL color! Then, there are some great blue and red 3D pages to look at the end of the book for the added cherry on top. Be advised though the 3D glasses are not included.

I will say that the familiarity of the plot may turn some readers off, as it doesn’t stand out as particularly original or fresh. This could change, though, as the first issue really just introduces us to the few main characters and their new dilemma. Hopefully, there are some exciting twists and turns to come to make the story it’s own and let Allred’s style shine through the structure.

I also will warn that the first issue was a little jarring on the first read-through as it gets going very quickly, and we don’t know very much. We only know as much as Max, who is experiencing all this interdimensional travel, and it’s consequences for the first time. It just raises some questions until you get to the end of the issue. Then the first comic closes with both answers and all new questions presented on a beautiful final splash page.

I thought this comic’s timing was perfect, although I’m sure it’s a headache for Allred and Dark Horse. It is a well-needed psychedelic escape. I’m hoping the series takes off and grows into more than just the four planned issues. We could use a new fun and reflective Allred universe right now. It’s guaranteed that there will be plenty more fantastic art and retro imagery in the issues to come along with what looks like a new take on the classic science fiction adventure. I give X-Ray Robot #1 4 out of 5 3D glasses. I recommend it to anyone who loves retro art, robots, or classic science fiction stories.

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