After his latest face-off against Dr. Dinosaur (who didn’t actually have a savage sword) EVERYTHING CHANGED for Robo and his buddies at Tesladyne as they were hassled by Majestic 12. How do you follow up on something like that? By telling a story that stops the series’ momentum cold. While it was clear for the end of vol. 8 that the next story involving the title character would take place in the Wild West, the story we get feels like that was the only reason for this particular plot twist. We have Robo trying to live as inconspicuously as possible, only for that to change when he interrupts some bandits about to kill a man near his home. This earns him the ire of the Butcher Boys who have been going around the south kidnapping whoever they can get their hands on for purposes unknown. With the aid of the infamous Doc Holliday and the less-famous but still completely badass Marshal Bass Reeves, Robo works to find out just what kind of bad science plans they’re a part of before he finally runs out of juice.
As “Robo” stories go, this one is pretty middle-of-the-road. The sense of adventure is there, but the jokes don’t come off as well as they have in the past. Also, Robo’s “running out of power” problem comes off as a cheap way to generate tension when he’s already up against murderous outlaws at first, and then a certain German mad scientist (making his first appearance in the flesh) and his mechanical zombie army later on. I probably wouldn’t be as annoyed by these issues if it wasn’t for the fact that this whole Wild West story feels like a diversion from the drama of the previous volume. Want to know what happened to everyone at Tesladyne? Keep waiting until vol. 10. At least the epilogue ties all this back in to the main plot in a “Robo engineered his own destruction” kind of way, and I’m interested in seeing how the character’s return to the present day pays off. (The means will be familiar to anyone who remembers the “Time’s Arrow” two-part season finale/premiere from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”) I’ll be there to see the results, but I expected better from this series than what I was given here.