Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"ALEX! FREDDY! COME ON! We should have left five minutes ago!"
"But Dad! Freddy tore my comic!"
"It's my comic!"
"No, you swapped it me for my Ankylosaurus!"
"That was for a lend, not for keeps!"
"Well then I want my Ankylosaurus back!"
"BOYS! We're going to be late! Never mind about the comic!"
"But what about the Ankylosaurus?"
"JUST GET DOWN HERE!"
"Jeez, Dad, you don't have to shout."
"Robot hearing, remember?"
First day back at school for a new term and after the comic capers, of course Mega Robo Bros Alex and his younger brother Freddy miss the bus. Dad knows he's going to be in deep trouble with Mum, a government scientist, as the boys are only too happy to remind him. The only alternative is letting the boys fly there unsupervised, after a stern talking-to about not fighting on the way... It couldn't go that wrong surely?
"... Three hours late, and completely soaking wet when they got here. It's not a great start to term, is it?"
"I really am terribly sorry, Headteacher. I had to, um, go and fish them out of the Thames. There was an incident."
"Sorry, miss. You see Freddy tore my comic..."
"It's my comic!"
Haha, that comic gag is a great running joke that keeps on giving throughout. Well, this might just be my favourite PHOENIX PRESENTS story so far. It has all the requisite ridiculous humour that the kids demand, but it's a really great story as well. I would actually put this on a par with the likes of THE UNSINKABLE WALKER BEAN as an exceptional all-ages read.
Alex and Freddy are robots: the only sentient ones in existence, created by the late Doctor Roboticus. After his mysterious passing they were adopted by Doctor Sharma and her husband. But just like every single set of new parents, Doctor and Mr. Sharma had absolutely no idea just what they were letting themselves in for...
Neil has captured the essence of two continually bickering, mischievous brothers perfectly here. It just so happens these battling boys can shoot lasers beams from their hands, punch through walls and fly through the sky! Mainly whilst arguing with each other! They'll need those skills to rescue the public from sky trains plunging towards the pavement, rampaging robotic dinosaurs roaming the National History Museums and much more besides. For it seems someone, or something, with an ulterior motive is testing them... and it's not just the bullies at their school who are determined to verbally torment them for being different. It does take great restraint not to zap a bully with your in-built laser, mind you...
I continually found myself chuckling at Neill's dialogue, particularly the ever exuberant Freddy with his ridiculous made-up songs involving poo. He is quite the expert at picking the most inopportune moment to debut them to his parents. And I can completely understand exactly how his brother Alex spends half his time protectively looking out for Freddy then the other half wanting to exasperatedly atomise him. A typical annoying younger sibling, then! Together though, when engaged in their dynamic duelling against all and sundry they make a most formidable team, with Freddy prolifically popping out pithy punchlines in a manner a certain Peter Parker would approve of! The interior cover sums it up perfectly with the pair of them stood outside their front door, Freddy excitedly blasting a couple of feet into the air, heels clicking, fists pumping, Alex just staring at him, hands in pockets, irritated.
This is brilliant fun, a supremely well written romp, that also has much to say about tolerance for our fellow man, and err... robot, and it's just as fantastically and vibrantly illustrated. The action sequences are a joy to behold with about as much carefully choreographed mechanical mayhem as I think I've ever seen on page after page of comics. Neill's future London with lanes of flying, red double-decker buses and robotic Coldstream guards replete with bearskin hats looks a fabulously crazy place. Oh, and his take on the future Royal Family made me grin very broadly indeed. I look forward to the next volume!