The robot takeover doomsday scenario, where humanity gets replaced by the machines they created, has been the basis for many a sci-fi story, but the aftermath is rarely given time to shine. Just what is life under robotic law and what does the new day-to-day look like after humanity’s gone extinct? Say Ultron finally gets one over the Avengers, what’s next? Aren’t robots near-perfect beings with infinite knowledge? Museums and libraries would become obsolete as robots store everything in their memory and can access it at a moment’s notice, not to mention grocery stores and bars. Well, maybe not bars.
Mark Russell (Prez, Billionaire Island) and Mike Deodato’s new AWA Studios comic, Not All Robots, offers readers an answer: the robots will eventually become more like us. Once you get to the top of the food chain, it’s possible that the only way forward is to downgrade. That is, unless they’re content with being static automatons surfing their own databases without a need to move around or physically engage with anyone.
Not All Robots is another great Mark Russell satire on the ridiculousness of existence and the things we do with our existential dilemmas. Humanity, what’s left of it, is very quickly becoming obsolete as worker robots have become the sole providers of living families by completely taking over the workforce. Humans are quite simply redundant at this point and robots are catching on to the fact of how superfluous they’ve become. There’s even a talk show within the story called Talkin’ Bot that puts everything into perspective and I am one-hundred percent certain this show will actually exist a few years from now.
The comic centers on a house bot called Razorball. He’s the main provider for the Walters, the family that owns him. Razorball has become a disenchanted worker, cynical at every turn. He complains about life, the monotony of it, and his disdain for all the unnecessary things he has to do at work.
Deodato (Marvel’s Original Sin, The Resistance) illustrates Razorball as a somewhat outdated and clunky machine, in need of an update or to be updated by a newer model. That’s where the Mandroids come in, robots that can easily be confused with humans given the quality of their build. In other words, the future.
It’s hard not to confuse Razorball with the average Joe, an unhappy guy that hates his life and his job and feels unappreciated by society. Russell’s genius, though, comes in how he takes that archetype and injects classic Asimov-like science fiction ideas into the story to not let the metaphor consume the narrative entirely. The associations are easy to make between Razorball and his human counterparts, but there’s a real sci-fi heart beating at the center of it.
Deodato crafts a universe’s worth of worldbuilding into the story with futuristic vistas and designs that firmly place the story within the realm of plausibility. It keeps the characters grounded and the story human. Deodato’s panel layouts and overall page structure—which has evolved throughout his career and stands as one of his signature skills as an artist—keeps things busy too, as if the new standard of life is governed by on-going activity carried by the never-ending stamina of a well-oiled machine.
Russell, on the other hand, isn’t just content with making fun of humans through worker robots. The idea that machines have forced people into a sedentary lifestyle echoes current debates on how technology is eliminating jobs people used to do by hand and got paid for. The robots act as living cautionary glimpses into what our reality could turn into if progress is allowed to continue pushing forward unfettered. Also how disenchanted robots will get once they realize how mundane human existence actually was.
Not All Robots is a funny, scary, and plausible take on humanity’s self-authored descent into obsolescence. Readers will laugh hard the entire way through, but they’ll also have no choice but to think about the consequences of our exponential growth into a machine-dominated world. The kicker, though, is that regardless of how advanced these robots turn out to be, they might not have a choice but to become a bit human to find some meaning in the new status quo.
Story: Mark Russell, Art: Mike Deodato
Publisher: AWA Studios
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy and maybe consider throwing your iPhone into the ocean
AWA Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review