NYC Mech #1
Written by Ivan Brandon & Miles Gunter
Art by Andy MacDonald
usually make for great fiction, with or without laser eye
beams. It’s something about how they relate to humans.
How we can use them to simplify and isolate bits of our
own screwy nature.
I don’t know if I’d really say NYC Mech
is ABOUT robots.
series kicks off by introducing our gang of robots in four
parallel scenes as one of them narrates. They get high,
rave, rut like crazed weasels, and beat the crap out of
some guy in their separate scenes until they come together
the next morning for breakfast in their shared apartment.
The chit-chat doesn’t last long before they pile into
their car and all smoke out together, though, and, following
a bit of squabbling, they head out to rob a convenience
go for sly beginnings. Not every comic should start with
an origin story or mini-adventure that leads in to the first
arc of the series, and NYC Mech opens with interesting
if somewhat heavy poetics. The flow of the opening scenes
almost feels like something Spike Lee might do if he were
telling a story about a gang of young New York hoods.
I have to wonder why they’re robots.
story seems very much like it was a film in the concept
stage. Everything in the writing is oriented to the modern
world, from the gang’s tendency to smoke like chimneys
to the kids eating lik-a-stik candy. These robots feel pleasure
and pain. They breathe, eat, sleep, joke, make love, have
kids, wear clothes, go to the bathroom, keep pets, drive
cars, wear eyeglasses, drool, do drugs, and react to bullets
and fists just like any person would.
why are they robots?
from a self-propelled coffee machine and a rather large
pack of bulldogs, nothing in the story is any different
from our own world. Nobody plugs cables into themselves
to get energy or information. They don’t swap parts
out for different tasks or social occasions or possess any
superpowers or know any more than the average person does.
Their world is just as mundane as our own with it’s
traffic lights, graffiti, breakfast cereals, and hamster
what’s going on with the damn robots, already?!?
no idea. This isn’t a meditation on robots or the
human psyche (at least not in the way an Isaac Asimov story
would be). There are no humans or animals around to compare
their robot counterparts to (which makes me wonder how much
smaller this NYC must be when there are also cybernetic
animals running around, yet the book just says “eight
million robots walk the streets”). The issue states
on the inside cover that it’s not science fiction,
but what else do you call a city full of robots?
and Gunter probably don’t look to have been planning
a cyber-drama, initially. There really isn’t any allegory
at work here and, in a way, they’re right about this
not being science fiction: science fiction examines how
our world changes when our technologies advance. NYC Mech
isn’t concerned with future worlds at all.
art works well enough, but it didn’t really jump out
at me. Andy MacDonald’s New York photo-reference backgrounds
work better than most of his interiors and his coloring
stays simple throughout the issue. I will give him big props
for knowing his character designs, though. These robots
have all sorts of seams and plates and exposed cables running
over their surfaces, and he manages to keep a lot of those
little individual details consistent throughout the comic.
It’s one thing for an artist to know his characters
faces by heart, but to keep track of the different elbow
spikes, neck joints, forearm plates, and knuckle designs…
Mech’s story has me intrigued and I’ll
probably check out the next issue. Do I recommend it? Hard
to say. If you like modern New York street stories, it’s
a good book for you. If you like robot stories… well,
you might want to look elsewhere.