Review Extra: ‘Mega Robo Definition’ – A Few Pages Of Heartbreaking Wonder In ‘Mega Robo Bros Double Threat’
by Richard Bruton
Inside the pages of Neill Cameron’s Mega Robo Bros Double Threat comes a few pages of incredibly moving and truly heartbreaking emotional power, addressing gender and sexuality issues in such a warm and honest fashion. It’s proof, once more, that Mega Robo Bros is one of the finest kids comics out there.
In just a few pages, Neill Cameron’s Mega Robo Bros goes into wonderful, heartbreaking territory in a tale called ‘Mega Robo Definition’.
As I’ve already told you plenty, most recently with the reviews of the first two Mega Robo Bros books, ‘Power Up‘ and ‘Double Threat‘, re-released in a remastered and reformatted version right now, Neill Cameron’s comic series, originally appearing in the Phoenix Comic, is a wonderful thing. It’s full of comedy and adventure, as these two unusual brothers find their way in the world, juggling the media spotlight and their jobs as special agents of R.A.I.D., a near-future Britain’s agency for handling all manner of robo-threats, with the more down to Earth moments of handling school, friendships, relationships, and sibling rivalry.
That contrast between having these two robo-brothers developed by the military and adopted by a (sort of) normal family, between military development and family upbringing creates something fun and interesting and so well realised by Cameron.
At the heart of Mega Robo Bros is the notion that Alex and Freddy, the two Mega Robo Bros, have the chance to be every bit the children that we know, every bit the children that we have (if we’re grown ups), every bit the children we are (if we’re young people reading this).
And with all the adventures, all that excitement, and all the comedy moments we see throughout these two books, Cameron’s managed to make us care so much about these two boys. He’s managed to make these two robot boys real for us. And in doing so he’s made us care deeply about them.
But Cameron’s never made us care more about them than a series of pages in the middle of this book, when dad takes the boys shopping. And they’re wanting Choki Eggs.
Yeah. Blue for boys, pink for girls. That’s the way it works isn’t it?
Well no, that’s not the way it works for many of our kids, not at all.
When it was originally published in the Phoenix Comic, this little strip was entitled ‘Mega Robo Definition‘. And it was simply perfect – and here, in the collection, it’s STILL simply perfect.
It all has its roots, as so many childhood problems do, with a bit of schoolyard teasing, the school bully accusing Alex of being a girl, not wanting to play with the other boys, preferring the company of his two best friends, Taia and Mira.
And all of that sat in Alex’s head, making him ask questions. Questions like this:
The ramifications of what Alex is thinking, what he’s going through, are left to percolate for a while, until they come out here in a few beautifully realised pages.
First there’s the setup of dad taking the two boys to the shop, giving them an innocent treat, and then Cameron delivers two pages of such intensity and heartbreak as Alex weighs up what he wants, those questions that were in the back of his mind coming out in heartbreaking fashion.
Cameron gave me something that was really incredibly powerful and instantly worked, a brilliantly accessible and understandable way for readers to think about sexuality and confusion.
He made it work with a power that took my breath away. The emotion in the face, the shaking of the hands as Alex reaches out and simply can’t decide, is so scared… such powerful storytelling…
To address Alex’s questions in such a way, to introduce the idea of sexuality and gender identity like this – I challenge you to find two pages with more emotional power than that.
And that’s just one of the many reasons why Mega Robo Bros is such a superb comic. Funny, exciting, warm, beautiful, heartbreaking – it’s just a wonderful read.
Mega Robo Definition is found in the pages of Mega Robo Bros Double Trouble – by Neill Cameron, with additional colouring by Abigail Bulmer and Lisa Murphy.
Published by David Fickling Books on 5th August.