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Harlan Phoenix writes...


WORD UP: There be spoilers in this review. So everyone should read with caution. Also, go buy Mecha Nation.

SUMMARY: After a superheroic battle that didn't go too great, the identity of the "Second Wave", five teens with superpowered robotic forms, seems closer to being compromised. As the kids try to live out their high school lives as normal, they're more than a little worried about the new teacher who seems a little...alien.

REVIEW: So, I'll admit upfront that this was pretty goddamn rad. I'm actually kind of upset that this property has had to sit dormant for so long because even this one issue shows what kind of potential this really has. It's a LOT of fun.

I'm not gonna give a play by play of what happened in the story. Rather, I'm just going to explain how much I liked a bunch of out of context things that will make people buy this so they know what I'm talking about.

So I'll do that.


-I adore The Factory. I don't care if we've barely seen them; I sincerely believe they're among the better villains you've written (and you've written numerous characters who hold honorable titles as great villains, most notably David Xanatos and Demona but more personally my all time favorite Thailog). So this is saying something. But The Factory accomplishes two villainous extremes in the span of one comic book issue and does so with an inner genius. We start with a battle atop the bowling alley that ends in a First Wave Tag that could compromise the identities of the Second Wave with little effort. And then we see the "mysterious" Professor Gear, who is more than a little blatantly not human. But that, in of itself, is kind of genius: the public doesn't know about Mecha Sapiens, so at most the students are just going to mock Gear outside of class. The few people who'd actually take this weirdo seriously and not joke about him are probably the Second Wave. The Factory used Saturday morning 80's villainy as a PROACTIVE STEALTH MECHANISM. THAT IS WONDERFUL AND I LOVE YOU.
-I like that Marcus is pretty upfront about his geek pride. I always thought that was a tad more realistic than the shy nerd. I know I never hid my sexynerdiness.
-I love that Ray isn't the Broadway homage I idiotically assumed he would be; the little we see of him show he's pretty different from the big lug.
-My favorite character, so far (besides Professor Gear, who is a God among men) has to be Susie/Fahrenheit. She'll fight crime with the rest of the Second Wave, but she doesn't really seem to actually SPEND TIME with them. Don't answer this question, but how exactly does she go about getting grouped into fighting with the rest? WHY would she? There's a lot about her I want to know.
-The chalk drawings are cute.
-As is Kevin's lab partner. She's nerdydorable. I bet she's a robot.
-A nerdydorable robot.
-Sexuality plays a big part in this story, and I like that you're fairly classy with it. It ranges from the admittedly blatant but fun (a buncha kids pent up for not "metalling out" in days...WHAT COULD THIS MEAN?!) to the much more subtle (Using Romeo and Juliet as part of a free will/fate discussion-I LOVE Romeo and Juliet, largely because it is essentially a story of two impulsive, hormonal teenagers doing things and making stuff go nuts as a result. It's a very classy, subtle allusion that both sets up what I assume is a main, existential plight of a Mecha-Sapien but also very concisely serves as a push/foreshadow for the most sexual undercurrent of the story's theme). It's an element of teenage sexuality that manages to actually serve a point and not just be there for the sake of being there. Stuff like this is one of many reasons why you're my favorite writer. Well done.
-On the opposite side of the spectrum, I adore the art. Campo and de Payevsky did a great job. Looks like it'd really lend well to animation.
-Just saying.
-Zehra's family life should prove pretty interesting. I immediately liked it because it'd seem like the opposite of what you'd expect, but with a bit of reflection I realized I liked it because it actually makes perfect sense even in theory.
-I'm amused that the character profiles mention that Marcus is a fan of Dragonball. X-Men and Star Trek make sense as mainstays of their genre, but I would've expected Dragonball to be replaced by something either a little more current (Bleach, Naruto) or something a bit more franchise-y and bluntly sci fi (Gundam). I'm not really a fan of Dragonball (or any of those other shows I rattled off, though Gundam's alright), but I liked this little detail. It has a fascinating nuance.
-I like the normal guy (the blond kid who was bowling) and his significance or lack there of intrigues me.

OVERALL OPINION: This was a really cool start, and I like this comic a lot. I wish this property a lot of prosperity in the future and I sure as hell know I'm going to count myself in as a fan. Thank you for this.


1. So the title intrigues me. "Androidology-First Bell." Spectacular Spider-Man, also run by you and Mr. Cook, used similar academic titles for both arc names and individual story names. But, as I understand it, that evolved out of the marching orders that required arc based storytelling. My question: was the academic title scheme something that evolved out of the Mecha-Nation development and was fitted onto Spectacular Spider-Man when you saw that it seemed to fit, or was Mecha Nation's faux-academic titles borrowed from Spectacular Spider-Man?

2. Does...Kizoic have any kind of standards and practices department? I mean, the themes regarding sexuality are subtle enough that I could see that not being a big deal. But I thought Kizoic was an all ages line and...there're a few damns in here. Not to mention the blond kid's reference to certain substances.

Thanks again for a great comic and I look forward to it continuing!

Greg responds...

1. I know this may sound ... astounding... but I didn't connect "Androidology" up with what we did on Spider-Man until your post. We developed this story AGES ago. The title was slightly different, but basically set. Androidology is the title of the entire three-issue mini-series. Then each issue has a subtitle. Since everything's set in and around a high school, the titles are all school related. That's coming from a slightly different place than the thematic titles of Spider-Man, but the end result, I guess, isn't that different.

2. Well, this book was written before Kizoic existed. But I'm my own standards and practices guy. Working in kids programming as long as I have, I try to do what I think is right for a general audience that's kid safe but fun for adults too.

I'm glad you liked Mecha-Nation! Thanks for buying it!!

Response recorded on September 29, 2010