Best Of British: ‘Mega Robo Bros Power Up’ – New Format, Same Brilliant Comics
by Richard Bruton
Neill Cameron’s Mega Robo Bros brings all the action, excitement, and outright hilarity back – this time in an digest format. It’s one of the best kids’ comics to come out of the great Phoenix Comic, simply a wonderfully fun book!
I’ve told you about Neill Cameron and his Mega Robo Bros strip here at Comicon in the past (here, here, and here) – I’m a huge fan of his work and have been for the longest time, with Mega Robo Bros just the latest of a great number of fabulous comics – and now it’s back in a brand-new, reformated digest format.
Mega Robo Bros debuted in The Phoenix Comic (which recently celebrated its 500th weekly issue here in the UK – and yes, you should be buying that as well!) and has been collected both here in the UK and in the USA from David Fickling Books and Scholastic, through their Graphix imprint.
And now, David Fickling Books are re-releasing the Mega Robo Bros books in the digest format (think Dog Man and Smile sort of size), with Cameron taking the chance to do a lot of additional work on the strips in addition to the necessary reformatting of panels and pages to fit the digest size.
You know, going from this to this…
And from this to this…
But one thing that hasn’t changed is the brilliance of the books themselves, every bit the wonderful kids’ comic series I’ve told you all about before – just in a different format this time round.
It’s still full of all the action and adventure of before, still has moments of wonderful comedy, still contains all that emotional depth far beyond what you’d initially expect from a comedy adventure about two young boys who just happen to be robots.
As I said when I was looking at the Scholastic Graphix version of Mega Robo Bros, it’s all about the trials and tribulations of two robot brothers created by the mysterious Dr. Roboticus; Freddy (6, the red one) and Alex (12, the blue one) who’ve been adopted by robotics scientist Dr. Nita Sharma and her very down to Earth husband, Michael. And that’s pretty much all you need to know.
Because Cameron is so good at what he does, the stories are packed with all manner of ridiculous, wonderful, silly, funny, down to earth, touching moments with both the boys. They go to school, they fall-out with each other, they go out with their mom and dad, they squabble with each other, they deal with giant robotic dinosaurs threatening London, they argue with each other, they beat the marauding palace robot guards at the Royal street party, they bicker with each other… you get the idea.
Because, no matter how normal Mom and Dad want them to be, there’s always something around the corner that’s going to need their robo-powers to sort out. And that’s not even to mention the mysterious evil robo figure intent on destroying their lives.
The great things about MRB are all here – there’s a comedic touch that’s just delightful, whether that’s subtle humour or out-and-out slapstick, Cameron has a stand-up comic’s sense of timing. But there’s also that deeper emotional element to it all – something I’ll develop more when looking at the second book in the series. And there’s that fabulous very near-future sense of this London, a London of wonderful tech and equally wonderful diversity.
So, instead of banging on and on about how good it is, I’m going to let Mega Robo Bros show you, with a couple of simple examples of what makes this one so much fun.
Such as this moment – when the family are visiting Robo World, Britain’s premier robot-based theme park, something mom wants to use to show the boys the difference between the boys and other robots – the whole idea of sentience.
And of course, Freddy manages to split off from mom and Alex and stumbles on this little scene…
C’mon, if the robo-monkey speaking French doesn’t make you giggle, then the existential robo-penguin has got to have you guffawing.
Obviously, Freddy rescues them all, and here’s where the deeper moments of Mega Robo Bros comes in, those little moments that Cameron does so very well, as we get to see the moment when Freddy can’t really understand why they were going to kill them for just being broken and mom just can’t explain it to him enough… all of which leads to this…
The second reformatted volume of Mega Robo Bros, Double Threat, is also out right now, awaiting me on the reading list, where we get to continue the fabulously fun adventures of Freddy and Alex as they join the team of R.A.I.D. (Robotics Analysis, Intelligence and Defence).
So, there’s really no excuse – join the Mega Robo Bros today – it’s a wonderful, wonderful comic!
Now… one last fabulous moment. Proof that Neill Cameron can make this book hilarious and touching even when he’s just showing something as mundane as a family shopping…
Mega Rob Bros – Power Up – by Neill Cameron, with additional colouring by Lisa Murphy.
Published by David Fickling Books on 5 August.