Review – That’s Because You’re A Robot – David Quantick and Shaky Kane – Image Comics
With reviews on Letters To Walter Kovacs I am going to go a different way about how I choose what to review. Every person I interview I ask for his or her 3 favourite comics that have come out this year. I will then read and review one of these comics. By doing it this way I hope to find out about the newest and most exciting comics.
This week our recommendations come from Saam, of Hats and Milk Comics, but he gave me 5 comics to read instead of three. The five comics he recommends are:
‘Youth is Wasted’ by Noah Van Sciver (Ad House).
‘Bimba Vol 1’ by Donya Todd.
‘That’s Because You’re a Robot’ by David Quantick and Shaky Kane (Image).
‘Eltingville Fighting Club’ by Evan Dorkin (Dark Horse).
‘Southern Bastards’ by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour (Image).
I have decided to review ‘That’s Because You’re A Robot’ because I have heard many positive things about Shaky Kane, but until now I have never read any of his work.
‘That’s Because You’re A Robot’ is a stand alone comic about two buddy cops named Jeff and Matt. The comic is based in a pumped up surreal future, where Jeff and Matt must unravel a conspiracy involving the criminal underworld and the police department. While all of this is going on the pair are grappling with a dilemma: one of them is a robot but neither of them knows which.
This comic isn’t the most serious. Instead, it subverts the classic troupes of action films. In particular it makes fun of the buddy cop narrative which has been so popular in Hollywood films for decades. The comic’s writer David Quantick enjoys parodying films such as Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour and Bad Boys. The conspiracy plot of the comic acts as the background for Jeff and Matt to trade fast and witty dialogue about why each one thinks the other is a robot. Here is just a small example:
‘Jeff: I know I’m not a robot Matt. Matt: How’s that Jeff?. Jeff: Because I don’t feel like a robot. Matt: Maybe you don’t feel anything because you are a robot!’
The dialogue isn’t the only positive of this comic. The pages of this comic are filled with many action sequences where we get to see large explosions and massive fights between the two cops and a group of weird criminals that include a cowboy, a bed sheet ghost and a leprechaun. These scenes demonstrate the strong relationship between writer and artists as they allow the bombastic pop-art of Shaky Kane to take precedent over dialogue.
Throughout this comic there are several splash pages and a couple of two page spreads which is rare to see in such a short comic. But Shaky Kane takes full advantage by overpowering your eyes with every visual stimulus possible. Yet, it is one of his subtler splash pages, towards the end of the comic, that proves to be his most powerful. The page depicts the death of the Ager. In this single page we see the man age backwards from an old man into a pile of dust. A block of yellow serves as the background thus allowing the Ager to take center stage in his final moments.
This comic revels in pocking fun and grossly exaggerating many of the narrative troupes that genre comics and films find themselves stuck in. Troupes such as buddy cops, the angry chief of police, shoot outs etc. But it never loses itself in its own self-referential smugness. The artwork and prose compliment each other as neither takes itself too seriously. Instead both artists and writer seem to be trying to have as much fun as possible. The only downside to this comic is its a stand alone. Personally, I would love to read a whole mini-series dedicated to this story.