Each found guilty of an irredeemable crime, four robots find themselves banished from their home world and bound together by the Kill Lock—a programming link that means if one of them dies, they all will. Now a soldier, an addict, a murderer, and a child find themselves forced to protect each other while in search of a cure to survive.
Every society has their own way of dealing with their malefactors. In The Kill Lock #1, sentient criminal robots are exiled, but with a deadly twist. Four droids are all sent to a remote planet where they depend on each other to survive. If one dies, they all go down.
Livio Ramondelli sets this thing up quickly and efficiently. There’s a fine line in opening issues between overselling or underselling the meat of the story. The pacing here works really well. Ramondelli needs only six pages or so to give a decent idea who three of the androids are, and by page ten, the fourth reveals itself.
The Artisan is kind of an asshole. He’s like the third degree black belt who picks fights with laymen, sucker punches them, and then claims a win. The Child is, well, he’s a kid. Has no idea what the hell is even going on or how he’s found himself in this deadly predicament. The Laborer, he’s got a drinking problem. The Wraith? We don’t know his crime, but that dude is huge.
Ramondelli is best known for his art, so it’s no surprise how great this book looks. The desolate icy planet setting is rich and detailed. Character designs reflect the personalities and quirks of the individual bots. Action scenes are quick and dirty. There are even a few tender moments that will make you feel more than you probably should over something like a robotic bird with a bent wing. These are machines, yeah?
The Kill Lock has a lot of potential. This has been a busy month for sentient droids on distant planets and ragtag groups of grown folk banding together to care for an innocent kid, so the timing might hurt just a little. If you’re a fan of Star Wars and Spaghetti Westerns, give this one a look.
The Kill Lock #1, IDW Publishing, 26 December 2019. Story and art by Livio Ramondelli, letters by Tom B. Long, edited by David Mariotte.