Brobots and the Mecha Malarkey Volume 2 OGN
Written by J. Torres
Art by Sean Dove
Published by Oni Press
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Brobots and the Mecha Malarkey is a sweet treat that offers up a valuable lesson: don’t eat gingerbread houses you find in the woods. The second volume of this Oni Press tale of robo-brothers that protect the city of Brotown from threats of all kinds, even though the biggest threat to Brotown might be the well-meaning brobots themselves. The second installment of the Brobots’ adventures is an easy jumping-on point for new readers of all ages, a simple and straightforward tale with the tongue-in-cheek sensibility of Powerpuff Girls or Adventure Time that makes for a delightful read.
The strength of J. Torres’ writing is leaning into the morality tale tropes of traditional kids’ stories and tipping them on their head in a way that doesn’t feel heavy-handed or smug. Throughout the book, it’s hard not to cast a wary eye on Joukei, Kouro, and Panchi as they trespass and engage in some careless destruction of public property, and in the end, Torres and Dove make sure impressionable minds know it is not actually polite to nosh on your neighbor’s peppermint windowsills, no matter how hungry you are, or abandoned the home looks.
Sean Dove handles illustration and lettering duties, giving the Brobots’ world a bright and vibrant color palette perfectly suited to its youthful charm. The Brobots’ designs are thoughtfully distinct, giving a quick visual impression of their personalities - serious gray Joukei, bumbling but well-intended Panchi with his big wide eyes. Dove’s lettering work is excellent throughout, with bold evocative sound effects and distinctive dialogue styles for the ‘bots that still hints at their mechanical nature despite their playful, conversational dialogue.
Dove’s bold lines and bright colors are perfectly suited to the Brobots spirit. The action sequences are fun but never overworked, and the monsters and magic Torres bring to the book are illustrated with a surreal edge perfectly suited to the utter weirdness of the classic tales they take inspiration from like Hansel and Gretel or even the likes of Candy Land.
Torres’ comedic timing is excellent, and even the Brobots frequent bro puns never get tiring. There’s a trend with some kid-oriented fiction to slide in sly, grown-up winks and nods for adults to chuckle at while they’re reading with their kids, and Torres and Dove never do that: they just offer up a playful tale with jokes that are goofy but fun for all ages, no need to tell your kid you’ll explain when they’re older. It’s silly and on the verge of sweet enough to make your teeth hurt but never too much. Brobots and the Mecha Malarkey is a charming graphic novel with surprising twists on well-worn tropes that turn it into a tale even adults can enjoy.