World War Robot Vol. 1 (Hardcover)
Story: T.P. Louise
Art: Ashley Wood
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: December 10, 2014
If you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing T.P. Louise’s and Ashley Wood’s fictional war epic “World War Robot” you know it’s not quite like any other graphic novel out right now. If you haven’t, well, allow me to give you a little insight into one 2014’s best alternate history/science fiction tales.
The settings for the story shift between Earth, Mars and the Moon during this universe’s Great War; no, not that Great War, er, but one that may be just as significant. At least for the purposes of WWR. This one occurs much later, from 1980 on through the 1990s, and is just as complicated and multifaceted as the real “war to end all wars”.
As the title implies, the main stars here are the ‘bots. Beginning with the MK-series, or “Berties” as they are referred to in the book, the robots gradually replace human combatants as the preferred war fighters. The most startling, but perhaps not unrealistic, aspect of this new way of war is that one man, Darwin Rothchild (a not-so-subtle allusion to the famous naturalist and notorious banking family no doubt) furnishes the fighting machines that the major factions use on each other. Guaranteed profit, yes, but Rothchild himself, as suggested in an excerpt from his memoirs, had a darker motivation for arming all parties involved.
The story itself is told using primary source material; journal entries, internal communications, design specifications, etc. As the WWR universe is ongoing, Wood leaves a lot to the imagination of the reader in terms of filling in the information gaps. It is an effective technique that contributes a layer of realism, as we are forced to experience things as an historian would, trying to piece together the day-to-day events of a conflict on an unprecedented scale.
One of the more disturbing accounts comes from Devon, a UK based bot sniper. His journal entry is at once tedious and troubling, as it’s clear that he is barely hanging on to his sanity. He describes in vivid detail his weapon, his duty and what he kills when bots are scarce. Why? Because, he’s a ” good soldier like that.”
The art, of course, is amazing. Wood’s use of oils is expert and the imagery is haunting, much as you would expect given the theme of this work. Every scene, every captured moment, is carefully depicted to show as much of the confusion and horror of war that a book of fiction could hope to achieve. That’s not to say that the paintings aren’t themselves beautiful, simply that the subject matter isn’t pretty.
This is an absolute must read for any graphic novel enthusiast. And while you’re at it, check out the line of action figures from 3A that are based on characters from World War Robot.