NYC Mech #1

Written by Ivan Brandon and Miles Gunter
Art by Andy MacDonald
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

Who doesn’t love robots? Well, people who are afraid of robots, I suppose. But robots are still very much a source of interest and inspiration in this day and age, as ideas that were once considered fiction are rapidly becoming reality. Maybe that’s part of the genesis of NYC Mech, a new series from Image Comics. Because if you look at the world of NYC Mech, the idea of robots replacing humans seems to have definitely arrived.

Troy and his robot roommates are just a handful of the eight million robots that inhabit New York City. They’re just trying to make ends meet and have a good time, from going out to clubs to robbing convenience stores. Yep, just another typical day in robotworld.

It’s hard to say if Ivan Brandon and Miles Gunter are trying to make a statement about humanity being nothing more than robots, or if they just liked the idea of a robot-populated New York City. The problem is, neither of these ideas seem to grab on, with two very different writing styles clashing within the pages of NYC Mech. On one hand, you’ve got a story about slacker roommates parting and holding up places for money. Ok, you can see where this sort of book is going, the tone it’s trying to achieve. The problem is, overlaid on top of this is one of the most pretentious narrations I’ve encountered in a long while. “Shapes move about and I remember where I used to be. I remember being anywhere but here,” it drones at the reader. “Ice melts on my tongue and it’s like a thousand tiny drops of sound fill my head. I can see them all dance but I feel like if I move I’ll just spoil everything. This moment here… every second is on hold… it’s like forever all over again.” It’s almost like either Brandon or Gunter wanted to write a book about robot teens busting things up and partying and plotted the book, and then the other decided to script over it with attempts at deep philosophy. Whatever the reason, it just doesn’t work. The narration would have been painful no matter which direction the book went in, but it sticks out like a sore thumb here because it so doesn’t fit with the actual plot of the book.

Artist Andy MacDonald’s work on NYC Mech is pretty nifty, though. There’s a harsh angular appeal to his drawings, making all the characters really look and feel like they’re robots, not silver-plated people. You can see their joints hold their bodies together, like they’re an early model for a project that hasn’t quite been perfected. These imperfect creatures come across as clumsy and slightly ineffectual, and it’s something that is reflected in Brandon and Gunter’s story to a degree. From nightclubs and brownstones to robotic dogs, MacDonald brings a level of interest and life to NYC Mech where the book itself doesn’t quite succeed.

NYC Mech #1 has some real problems that need to be sorted out before it can be successful. It’s got to figure out just what kind of story it’s trying to be, and to tone itself down a bit in terms of a writing style. (I’m not sure I could take a second issue with that narration style still in place and at full force.) The one thing that does work is MacDonald’s art, so hopefully if the rest of the book can catch up to that, it could really be something.

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