Accent UK’s steam-punk themed anthology Stephenson’s Robot returns for the second of seven issues. The main story of the titular robot set during the First World War is written by Dave West and illustrated by Indio!, the shorter Chronicles Of The Great Machine also illustrated by Indio! and written by Jon Ayre is set on a robot inhabited future Mars, while the prequel story The Carnival Master also written by Jon Ayre and illustrated by Gary Crutchley focusses on one of the main story’s cast.
Whilst being interrogated by Imperial German troops the robot explains its background with engineers Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Robert Stephenson challenged to create an army of mechanical men to fight the British Empire’s wars for it. The creation of the bodies was not a problem for the men, but how to give the machines intelligence was to prove to be the greatest challenge, a challenge that may have led them away from purely scientific thinking. Dave West’s plot continues to slowly reveal the background to the robot whilst leaving so much still tantalisingly hanging while Indio!’s detailed art works best with the mechanical aspects of the tale.
The futuristic tale of robots on Mars discussing the history of the titular robot remains short and sweet with Jon Ayre’s story and Indio!’s art having a Jodorowsky / Moebius vibe. At only (so far) 3 pages per issue this may yet prove to be the most intriguing of the three strands of the anthology by the time issue 7 appears.
This issue closes, as with issue 1, with a prequel story of one of the lesser characters in the main story. This time artist Gary Crutchley joins Jon Ayre to illustrate the early life of the Carnival Master who we first see as an urchin attempting to pickpocket Prince Albert before the Prince decides to use the boy’s talents for the country’s ends. However the growing boy’s role as Hider Of Truths is one that has unforeseen consequences on his private life. As with issue 1 this proves to be the most interesting of the three parts of the anthology with Gary Crutchley’s impressive art being sensitively coloured in subdued tones by Matthew Soffe.
The downthetubes review of Issue 1 of Stephenson’s Robot is here.
There are more details of Dave West’s work on his Strange Times blog.
Accent UK will have a sales table at the Edinburgh Comic Con at the EICC in Edinburgh’s West End over the weekend of 2/3 April 2016.