In Review: Stephenson’s Robot Issue 1

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Accent UK have a new seven issue mini-series in the form of Stephenson’s Robot, an SF-horror-steampunk themed anthology from writers Dave West and Jon Ayres and artists Indio! and Marleen Starksfield Lowe.

In the universe of Stephenson’s Robot the creator of the Rocket steam locomotive, Robert Stephenson, has continued on with his designs and created a steam-powered mechanical man to act as the prototype for a robot soldier for the British Empire. This first issue of the mini-series is split into three related stories; the main tale is set in France during the start of the First World War which sees the single robot that Stephenson built, known as Kingdom, in France protecting the members of circus freak show from the advancing German soldiers. The second and shortest story is set on a future Mars with intelligent robots considering their history, while the third story involves the original story of the Jigsaw Girl, one of the circus members from the first story. The first two stories are ongoing while the third may (or may not) be complete in itself.

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The main section of this and presumably future issues is the World War One story which introduces the robot to the reader with a fast-moving story of Imperial German soldiers advancing on the circus folk. Indio’s artwork is impressive in his layouts, particularly in explaining the origin of the robot, although the violence when it happens does rather descend into comical farce. While this may be deliberate to lessen the gore in the panels it feels out-of-place in what is otherwise a serious tale.

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The future Mars story, Chronicles Of The Great Machine, written by Jon Ayres and illustrated again by Indio! is perhaps the most intriguing section of the comic, despite only having three pages of story, as it implies some form of mechanical race descended from the original robot. Indio’s complex future robots and their more minimalist locales left me wanting to see a lot more of this story.

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However it is the final story Escape of the Jigsaw Girl that stands out. Again written by Dave West and this time illustrated by Marleen Starksfield Lowe, it gives a Frankenstein-like origin to the Illustrated Man type character of the Jigsaw Girl. Marleen’s moody artwork sets the scene perfectly for this horror tinged part of the overall Stephenson’s Robot universe and I look forward to hopefully seeing more of her work in future issues.

Stephenson’s Robot Issue 1 is a themed anthology that sets the scene for a steam-punk styled universe taking in both the past and the future. It is an intriguing first outing for a title that displays a lot of potential – it will be interesting to see where it goes over the next few issues.

There are more details of all Accent UK’s titles on their website and blog.

There are more details of Dave West’s work on his Strange Times blog.

Accent UK will have a sales table at DemonCon 9 in the Royal Star Shopping Centre in Maidstone on Sunday 15 February 2015.

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Jeremy Briggs

News, reviews, interviews and features for print and on-line: Spaceship Away (since October 2005), Bear Alley (since February 2007), downthetubes (since June 2007), and Eagle Times (since October 2008). Plus Titan’s Dan Dare and Johnny Red reprints, Ilex’s War Comics: A Graphic History and 500 Essential Graphic Novels, and Print Media’s The Iron Moon and Strip magazine.

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