Comicbook: Atomic Robo

Baron Heinrich von Helsingard: Why must we always resort to brutalizing one another? Are we not men of SCIENCE?
Atomic Robo: I'm a robot and you're a brain in a jar. Is this a trick question?

Atomic Robo is a comic about, well, Atomic Robo, a robot built by Nikola Tesla in the 1920s. Given citizenship by the US government in exchange for missions against Nazis and other similar scumbags, he later started TeslaDyne, a high tech organization devoted to fighting really weird evil and advancing human knowledge. Along with his elite team of Action Scientists, he travels the world (and further) fighting things on the fringes of human knowledge.

There are nine complete volumes as of November 2014; plus every year on Free Comic Book Day, a new short story is released.

In addition to these, a parallel series called Real Science Adventures has been started as of 2012, with each issue containing several new stories, either one-shots or multi-parters, involving either Robo, side-characters from the main comic, or other people from the setting. One series deals with The Sparrow, while another focuses on the two-fisted science adventures of Nikola Tesla, Charles Fort, George Westinghouse, H.P. Lovecrafts dad, Harry Houdini, Anne Oakley and Wong Key-Ying. Which is exactly as awesome as it sounds.

It's written by Brian Clevinger of 8-Bit Theater and Nuklear Age fame.

As of January 2015, the Atomic Robo site has started uploading the comics to be read free online. Volume 10, Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire, will be the first story to be released first in this way before being released in ComiXology app or print editions.

Atomic Robo contains examples of:

  • Achievements in Ignorance:
    • Sometimes used to handwave seemingly impossible physics.
      Robo: This is just— you can't have giant bugs. They'd crush themselves.
      Jenkins: But do they know that?
      Robo: Probably not, no.
    • Also Dr. Dinosaur's trademark. Or possibly it's Obfuscating Stupidity. Or possibly he really IS such a genius that Robo just doesn't understand what he's saying.
      Dr. Dinosaur: I had CRYSTALS!
  • Action Girl: The Sparrow, one of Britain's top operatives, who ended up working (rather reluctantly) alongside Robo in parts of Volume 2. They didn't really get on. More turn up in other volumes, such as Bao Lang (early-21st-century Tesladyne) or pretty much any given Flying She-Devil.
  • Adorkable: Young Atomic Robo. Especially with the "Talk" Nikola Tesla tries to give him.
  • A Fool for a Client: Dr Dinosaur attempts to represent himself in court in the 2015 FCBD strip. Since he labels his briefcase "MY LAW BOX" and declares that the system is now on trial under the law of the jungle, it doesn't go well for him... though his actual plan to humiliate Robo ends up being rather successful.
  • Agent Scully: Robo is usually rather open-minded, but he becomes this out of spite whenever confronting the inexplicable mad science of Doctor Dinosaur.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
  • Affably Evil: ALAN repeatedly tries to reason with Robo and convince him to join it, even as it's trying to kill him.
  • All of Them: In Issue 5 of Ghost of Station X:
    Sparrow: We're being asked to hold Robo for "the authorities".
    Lewis: Which ones?
    Sparrow: All of them.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The RPG adaptation has a lot of background information, ranging from the nature of DELPHI to the names and one-paragraph backstories of every significant Tesladyne character except the guy with the pink hair from "The Savage Sword of Dr Dinosaur".
    • The timeline page on the website lists all of the major events of the series in chronological order. It also lists dates for stories that have yet to be published, each listed only as "TOP SECRET" (The Temple of Od, The Spear of Destiny, Diamonds Are For Never, The Mirrorshade Overdrive, and The Soldiers of Fortune).
  • Alternate History: The comics feature a hefty amount of well-researched Historical In Jokes and archaic scientific concepts. Not to mention multiple Historical Villain Upgrades.
  • Alternate Universe:
    • The Vampire Dimension—a universe where all humans of the early 1900s were turned into vampires due to an unknown worldwide catastrophe (like I Am Legend without Will Smith).
    • The Exoverse—a barren, featureless void outside of space and time and The Shadow's point of origin. Or it might be The Shadow's true form.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific, former military support who refused to go home after WWII ended.
  • American Robot: Now in 20th Century Flavor!
  • Anachronic Order: The story readily jumps around from any time period to another in Robo's decades of exploits. Sometimes the background or resolution to a story will not be shown until a few volumes later.
  • Animated Adaptation: In the works. Have a trailer!
  • Appropriated Appellation: Dr. Dinosaur, who take his name from Jenkins calling him "some kind of... doctor dinosaur", when he burst in on Dinosaur about to slice off Robo's head with a chainsaw.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Robo has a bad habit of this.
    • He calls the Odic Force a debunked source of energy, despite evidence to the contrary literally staring him in the face.
    • Robo regularly dismisses Dr. Dinosaur's ramblings as worthless pseudoscience, even when he should know by now that beneath the rampant insanity his creations have worked (whether they can be controlled is a different story...) every time. He also flat-out states that time travel is impossible, even to three of his past selves at a place outside time, at which point it's just a matter of semantics. And then Dr. Dinosaur's "time bomb" blows him into the 19th century.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Helsingard is Robo's most frequently recurring nemesis, and as a Mad Scientist Brain in a Jar piloting Giant Mecha bodies, he parallels the purely mechanical Science Hero Robo.
    • There's also Dr. Dinosaur (a super-stupid dinosaur scientist opposing a super-intelligent robot scientist) and Undead Edison (who was the arch enemy of Robo's father).
    • Basically, Helsingard is Robo's most frequent and dangerous enemy (Robo calls him "an unparalleled genius"), Doctor Dinosaur is his most humiliating (since he is stupid and yet manages to continuously outwit Robo), and Edison is Robo's oldest and most personal (Robo even calls him "[his] greatest enemy"). Stephen Hawking is more of a Sitcom Archnemesis—instead of threatening the world or our hero's loved ones, he just epically jerks Robo's chain.
    • Another major contender is Majestic 12, an anti-Robo conspiracy.
  • Arc Number: In The Shadow From Beyond Time, "infinity minus one".
  • Are These Wires Important?: One of Robo's favorite techniques.
  • Art Evolution: And it was nice art to start with!
  • Artifact Title: Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War was named because the original outline had Robo fighting Vanadis's Wehrwolf soldiers. The Wehrwolf Formula was given a token mention at the end of the Vanadis conflict and a mention on the back cover of the trade paperback.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Emma Armstrong from the 2011 FCBD issue. The ten-year-old granddaughter of one of Robo's old action scientist comrades, who really wants to join Tesladyne and get away from her boring school and stupider teachers. The Kid Sidekick potential is subverted when Robo points out that legally, he cannot hire a ten year old, especially considering the hyperdangerous shenanigans he gets up to, but—in light of the fact that she completed her grandfather's life work by solving a decades-old paradox and building a prototype out of car parts—he tells her to come back in ten years or so and there will be a job waiting for her. The Epilogue shows her after college, meeting Robo for the employee tour.
  • Attack Its Weak Point:
    Robo: Y'know what they should call you? Baron von Blabs About His Only Weakness!
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Lampshaded, see below.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname:
    • Quite a few, scattered around.
      Robo: Why don't you tell me a little about yourself, Doctor...Cannon, is it?
      Cannon: Rex Cannon.
      Robo: Good name.
    • Not many people realize it, but Robo's full name is Doctor Atomic Robo Tesla:
      Carl Sagan: Your name is Doctor Atomic Robo Tesla?
      Robo: Yeah...
      Sagan: They should make comic books out of you.
  • Badass Boast:
    • In the very first issue Helsingard makes absolutely sure that there are no doubts as to what he is capable of:
      Helsingard: I did not bring ruin to an underground utopia pre-dating the dawn of agriculture solely for the purpose of not gaining ultimate power over the fabric of reality. Do not make me end you and implant the organ myself, Doctor. I no longer have the fine motor control for self-experimentation and time is of the essence.
    • And then you have Carl Sagan's boast when he starts on a plan to defeat the Shadow, very similar to stuff the man himself said in real life:
      Carl Sagan: We are made of starstuff. Our consciousness, our intelligence is the machinery of the cosmos discovering itself. Our science will be its candle in the dark.
  • Badass Bookworm: Carl Sagan. Tesla.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Tesla. When he goes into battle, he does so in full black-tie, complete with top hat and Waistcoat of Style.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Jenkins, who has survived the Vampire Dimension, blown up an ancient Egyptian monster while the others were debating what to do with it, crippled the Big Bad's giant robot body, and killed an entire crime cartel (including an entire beach full of armed people) while sent on an enforced vacation to unwind.
    • James Milligan in Volume 2, essentially a Scottish Jenkins in WWII as part of the British Royal Commandos.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The end result of Majestic 12's raid in The Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur. In the wake of the raid, Tesladyne is forcibly disbanded and replaced by Majestic, operating as Task Force ULTRA.
  • Beam-O-War: Between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, of all people.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: It's revealed in Volume 5 that the War of the Currents was a front for Thomas Edison's attempt to distill and bottle Von Reichenbach's Odic Force as an immortality drug using a Direct-Current "Odic Capacitor". It didn't end too well for him.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Deliberately averted with Robo. His exploits are often side-exploits that allow real-life history to proceed without interference—for example, his participation in the Mars probe consisted of sitting in a craft and doing nothing for a year. He got really bored.
  • Big Bad
    • Baron Heinrich von Helsingard in The Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne.
    • Otto Skorzeny in The Dogs of War.
    • The creature from The Shadow from Beyond Time.
    • You just know that the mysterious grumpy gentleman from the first issue of The Deadly Art of Science is going to be revealed as Edison, even before you see his face.
    • ALAN in The Ghost of Station X.
    • Big Bad Ensemble: The Savage Sword of Dr Dinosaur has Majestic 12 and, well, Dr Dinosaur.
    • Big Bad Wannabe: Butcher Caldwell in The Knights of the Golden Circle, before being usurped by a young Helsingard.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Helen and Robo's kiss in 5.3 gets an entire page.
  • Bothering by the Book: NASA, and how.
    Charlie Bolden: Robo, this is NASA. There's thirty pages of protocol for using the bathroom in space. Thirty-six counting appendices. We do everything by the book.
  • Brain in a Jar: Helsingard. Several of them, in fact. When one goes down, another is activated, and apparently has all of the previous one's memories.
  • Brave Scot: The commando from the Guernsey mission of The Dogs of War is a prime example. He takes out most of a fortified Nazi base by himself, faces off against opponents that gave Robo pause, fights his way back out of the base (while carrying half of Robo) and ends up flying a prototype helicopter to safety after rigging the entire fortress to explode. All while maintaining a "just another day at work" attitude and spouting nigh-incomprehensible Scottish one-liners.
  • The Butcher: Butcher Caldwell in Volume 9. Lampshaded:
    Holliday: They don't call him Butcher Caldwell because of his charm.
  • Call Forward: Seen from time to time thanks to the stories being told out of order. During the FCBD 2015 story, Dr. Dinosaur declares that his next monster will have a remote control. But we already know how well that's going to work out.
  • The Cameo: According to Wegener, many of the Action Scientists are based off real people, including the creators. Zack Finfrock is among them. The '50s team was supposed to be based on The Gang, but it got lost in the transition. The Flying She-Devils were based on women the creators know, as well, and the trade collection even explains who's who in its extras.
  • Car Fu: "Automobiles have been the best melee weapons to use against giant monsters since the '50s. It's science fact."
  • Ceiling Cling: The first zombie creature in the 1957 section of The Shadow from Beyond Time.
  • Character Blog: Dr. Dinosaur
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: In the 70s, Robo decides he needs to stop relying on super-strength and learn how to fight smarter. Who does he go to? Bruce Lee. When they finally spar, Bruce puts on boxing gloves... for Robo's protection. No-one else on the planet can withstand his attacks at full force.
    Robo: Bruce, c'mon. [on the ground] Wait. What just happened?
    Bruce: I kicked you.
    Robo: That was like... being hit by a truck. And I've been hit by trucks.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In The Ghost of Station X: Robo calls Steve Jobs to complain about how his hands don't work on touchscreens. Later, he finds a smartphone that he can't use because of the same impediment.
    • Also, his signature WWII revolver gets trashed on re-entry, and he has his quartermaster repair it. The guy gives him an anti-materiel handgun, which Robo later uses to take out an Apache helicopter, and later to aid him in destroying ALAN's Orion Drive.
  • Coat, Hat, Mask: Jack Tarot is one Bad Ass Longcoat short of this.
  • Cool Old Guy: Robo. He's a grumpy old man in the body of a super-strong robot.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • "What's this about a fifth cardinal direction?"
    • Bernard can be seen hiding from Jenkins in the cafeteria background in 3.5, which canonically takes place about a year after the "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" B-story.
    • In Flying She-Devils of the Pacific, it's mentioned that Robo has flown with the Flying Tigers during WWII (his flight jacket even has the China-Burma-India Theater patch on the left shoulder), which was shown way back in the second issue. He even wears the panda bear patch of 2nd Squadron AVG.
  • Courtroom Antics: The 2015 Free Comic, "The Trial of Atomic Robo". The trial itself is short-lived, as the plaintiff (Dr. Dinosaur) is found in contempt of court within the first two pages.
  • Cross Over: Real Science Adventures #2 features a short story in which Robo recruits The RED Team to capture the Yonkers Devil. They all die by the end, at which point Robo is revealed to have been replaced by the BLU Spy, who had been hired by Majestic 12 to keep the beast free for study.
  • Darkest Hour: The beginning of the Ring of Fire arc. Robo is lost in time and presumed dead, the rest of the team is either presumed dead or in hiding deep underground, Tesladyne has been taken over by Majestic 12, which is also commandeering other major scientific organizations unopposed, and the world is facing a major Biomega outbreak for which it is simply not prepared.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Robo.
  • Deface of the Moon: On Mars, after Robo gets sent there because Stephen Hawking told NASA he has a hybernation mode (he doesn't). "STEPHEN HAWKING IS A BASTARD."
  • Defector from Decadence: Before joining Tesladyne, Jenkins was a Majestic agent.
  • Dem Bones: Undead Edison.
  • Drinking Contest: In one issue Robo reminisces about a pilot he served with in World War II who challenged him to a drinking contest even though he's a robot and doesn't have anything to drink with.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Dr. Dinosaur.
    Dr. Dinosaur: Behold an ordinary motorist! [crashes right into the building]
  • DVD Commentary:
    • Sort of. The website has pages of writer Brian Clevinger and artist Scott Wegener commenting on their issues over instant messenger (here is the page for issue #1), doing such things as mocking the early art, arguing over how Helsingard should have been more obviously not-Nazi and pointing out that they gave Germans English guns.
    • As of volume seven, Clevinger and Wegener have been doing a segment called Atomic Robo: Nuts and Bolts on the Nerdy Show podcast. They and the interviewer go through each issue as it comes out and discuss where certain ideas come from, their writing process, and how Scott never looks at Brian's scripts.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Two cases in Other Strangeness: The photo of Jack Tarot on Robo's desk, and the eventual fate of Thomas Edison, both of whom are key players in Deadly Art of Science.
    • Early on in Deadly Art of Science, Tesla catches Robo reading a pulp magazine about "Ironhide, scourge of the Old West". Fast-forward (rewind?) to Knights of the Golden Circle, where it turns out that Robo is Ironhide.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • The Shadow. We're not even sure if it's alive. It's defined, at best, as a temporally non-linear "being, force or malevolence" that exists outside the Universe and intersects it at several points in history. The thing is, from its point of view, all the intersections are simultaneous, so killing it once isn't the same as banishing it forever. Had it gone unchecked, it would have expanded exponentially to swallow the Universe whole, then retroactively erase its existence.
    • A hint of its strangeness comes when you realize that, in it's dimension of origin, it exists as practically everything, while Robo exists as 4 versions of himself. So you might as well interpret it as a living universe.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The last panel of The Ghost Of Station X, Volume 5.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • Subtly done: Robo repeatedly accuses ALAN of not having helped humanity end the Cold War, despite having the ability to do so. ALAN does not understand the question.
      ALAN: To what end?
    • Related: Upon realizing that his rocket would kill all life on Earth and result in Robo embarking on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, ALAN never once considers just building a less destructive spacecraft.
  • Evil Counterpart: ALAN is one to Robo.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Captain May Carter of the Flying She-Devils. Even better, her flight goggles have her bad eye covered with a lens with a skull on it.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner:
    Robo: I already know how it ends. You don't win.
  • Fantastic Racism: Played for Laughs, as Dr. Dinosaur regularly dismisses "mammal"... well, anything. This extends to calling Robo a mammal robot, which he has no idea how to respond to.
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Robo in the late 19th century.
  • Five-Token Band: Based on their names, the six primary Action Scientists (Alpha Team and Beta Team) are of German, African, Hawaiian, Indian, Chinese, and some kind of Germanic origins. At least partially confirmed in the RPG manual: Vikram is the son of African and Pakistani parents, Bao Lang is the child of Hong Kong Royal Navy officers, and Koa hails from Maui.
  • Foreshadowing: Two large ones in Ghost of Station X:
    • Lewis' comment about how we're lucky Robo is morally upright.
    • One of Martin and Lewis' many tangent theories when investigating the disappearing of a whole building is that it's A Glitch in the Matrix, because they figure future technology will either be unsustainable or so advanced we're probably already living in their simulations ("Mad Max now or The Sims later."). ALAN predicted the former, which is why he plans to leave Earth on an Orion starship to look for more resources, destroying the Earth in the process.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Robo is moved during volume 8 to demand to know where Dr Dinosaur's rock-men army got face lasers.
  • Friendly Sniper: Annie Oakley in "Tesla's Electric Sky Schooner".
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: ALAN chooses to interact with Robo as a holographic projection of its own creator, Alan Turing.
  • Funny Background Event: During the '70s segment of The Shadow from Beyond Time, Robo meets with Carl Sagan at a diner. A waitress inside is sufficiently distracted by this scene to cause a bit of a mess...
  • Fun T-Shirt: Modern-day Robo has a penchant for them.
  • Fun with Acronyms: ALAN: Automatic Learning Algorithm Network. Built by, you guessed it, Alan Turing.
  • Gainax Ending: The Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur ends with Jenkins blowing up Tesladyne, Dr. Dinosaur's "time bomb", going off, and Robo ending up in Indiana, in 1870.
  • Genius Bruiser: Robo himself.
  • Genius Ditz: Dr. Dinosaur. Capable of great scientific feats, but at the same time:
    Dr. Dinosaur: I knew you would be here, Atomic Hobo! Witness how I have deconstructed your name into an insult!
    Robo: Yeah. Wow. Never Heard THAT One Before.
    Dr. Dinosaur: Shut up! I hacked your mainframe and downloaded your itinerary. Yes! All your computerized scheduling secrets are now mine!
    Robo: You joined our newsletter!
    Dr. Dinosaur: You can't prove that!
  • Genre Savvy:
    • Robo's team of Action Scientists are understandably reluctant to break through a pair of huge, ornate, conspicuous locked doors in an abandoned Helsingard facility:
      Tesladyne Scientist: Okay, seriously? These are end boss doors.
    • Just one look at the Quantum Decomputer, a giant room-filling behemoth made up of huge metal boxes, ominously large black cables and pipes jutting all over the place, is enough to tell Robo that no good will come of it:
      Robo: Computers that solve problems don't look like this. They're unassuming boxes on desks. They're refrigerators without the exciting brand names. Computers that are evil have all sorts of unnecessary ornamentation. This one's venting steam! Why's it doing that? It's like in nature. Like rattlesnakes or brightly coloured poisonous frogs. It wants you to know it's dangerous.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Charles Fort and H.P. Lovecraft.
    Robo: You guys don't look like adventurers.
    Fort: Adventure was more a hobby. We're writers, really.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: "Your problem will be solved." "With violent science." "That is SO a band name." In fact, it's seems it's a good name in general, seeing as how there was an Atomic Robo mobile game (no longer available) titled Violent Science.
  • Goshdang It To Heck:
    • Robo doesn't curse, instead using odd euphemisms like "Horsefeathers!" and "Cheese and Crackers!"
    • Averted at one point in Volume Three, though. After seeing the Shadow from Beyond Time "intersect" with one of the Action Scientists, Robo shouts out, "Holy DAMMIT!"
    • The "odd euphemisms" are how young (read: kid) Robo curses. You'll notice that his "vocabulary" expands as he gets older.
  • Government Conspiracy: Majestic 12, an organization dedicated to researching Tesla supertech, are the prime suspects for the elaborate anti-Robo conspiracy that's been going on in The Ghost of Station X. Robo originally dismisses the theory, stating that the attacks are too overt, and that Majestic like to play the long haul (since they've been hiding since the '40s). He's quickly reminded that for humans, 70 years is a long haul.
  • Gratuitous German: Averted, thankfully. Skorzeny's German is accurate.
  • Green Rocks: According to Dr. Dinosaur, crystals (no particular kind of crystal, just crystals in general) can do anything.
  • Gun Fu: Jack Tarot is an interesting case. His marksmanship looks nothing like this, but his aiming technique is an adapted form of "Zen Archery".
  • Hand Cannon: The Webley Mk VI Robo got in the 1930s and carried as his main gun for nearly eighty years. After that breaks in Volume 6 his weapons technician gives him a custom made revolver made of special super-hard material that lets it fire rounds with extremely powerful propellant; it's described as an anti-materiel handgun. Soon afterwards, it proves its credentials by shooting down an attack helicopter.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: Everyone
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • You could say this about Otto Skorzeny, the Nazi commando from Volume 2, but looking at his biography, fighting wise-cracking American robots seems to fit right in.
    • Thomas Edison using the ghost of Rasputin in an attempt to assassinate Tesla. Which turns out to be only one of his villainous schemes.
    • While not exactly villainous, James Forrestal, Truman's Secretary of Defense, was the man most responsible for the creation of Majestic 12.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Dr. Dinosaur's schemes have a tendency to blow up in his face (sometimes literally) more often than not. He keeps at it, though, because there's also a better-than-even chance of said schemes blowing up in Robo's face (often literally). (There's quite a bit of overlap.)
  • How Unscientific!: Plenty of sci-fi craziness to go around, but Robo is utterly (and, apparently, rightly) incredulous about Dr. Dinosaur's supposed time-travel machine. Considering that it was apparently constructed of fronds, rocks "and CRYSTALS!", even given the super-science world he lives in he's arguably right to be.
  • Humongous Mecha:
    • The Nazi Laufpanzers from Volume 2 fit this pretty well, and arguably so does Baron von Helsingard's various robotic bodies throughout Volume 1.
    • The above examples are rather small by Humongous Mecha standards, being the size of a large car at most. There is a suitably giant robot in a Volume 2 backup story, used by North Korea in 1950. Robo blows that up rather easily with a single plane, and Word of God states that giant robots never really caught on, due to the insane amount of new technologies that would need to be invented, and the resulting effect on the world. This is shown again in Volume 3, when a giant robot is tested in the background at Tesladyne, and promptly falls over and explodes.
    • Science Team Super Five pilots the Mecha Robo in Volume 4 Issue 2, to limited effect. It requires a large ground support crew, is barely capable of moving without falling over, and was only deployed so it could fire an extremely large weaponized orbital delivery railgun at an improbably large mutant monster. Also, it looks more like something out of Battletech than any sort of mecha you'd see in Super Sentai. Interestingly enough, it appears to be based on Robo. Having an existing robot capable of every range of human movement probably inspired some engineers to borrow a few ideas. That, or the Japanese scientists are just big fans of his.
  • Hyper Competent Sidekick: Jenkins, despite Robo being very competent and tough himself. Clevinger and Wegener have joked that Robo is actually Jenkins' sidekick.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Jack Tarot spends the first half of The Deadly Art of Science insulting Robo's love of pulp adventure stories, before turning out to have a hilariously-pulpy backstory of his own, involving a plane crash in the Himalayas, learning Zen-archery from a secretive order of monks, adapting it to firearms, and going from the wastrel son of a rich industrialist to a gun-toting vigilante.
  • I Choose to Stay: Bernard in the Hollow Earth in The Savage Sword of Dr Dinosaur. The others rightly point out that his estimated lifespan down there is something like a day, and haul him with them anyway.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: How Carl Sagan copes with the sight of an Eldritch Abomination.
    Sagan: I require a stiff drink. Several of them, in fact. Enough to paralyze a cow.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Averted with Otto Skorzeny in the '70s. He attempts to have Robo give him a soldier's death by informing him he killed Tesla and used his technology for the Nazi war effort. Robo instead lets him die a painful, lonely death to cancer.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: Dr. Dinosaur, as of volume 8. His origin is obscured, and all of his appearances feature him managing something completely impossible—with no explanation beyond Dr. Dinosaur's own questionable Techno Babble.
  • Is It Always Like This?: Other Strangeness depicts Bernard Fischer's first few days as an Action Scientist, which includes an invasion of other-dimensional vampires and a visit from the disembodied consciousness of Thomas Edison. Near the end, he asks Robo the traditional question; Robo's reply is, "No, sometimes it gets weird."
  • It's for a Book: In The Shadow from Beyond Time, young Robo tries to get advice from Tesla on fighting the eponymous extradimensional menace, without admitting that he's fighting it instead of doing his homework, by claiming that the radio serial he has on as background noise is about a battle against an extradimensional menace and he's curious about whether it's getting the science right.
  • Jerkass: A few examples:
  • Jerkass Has a Point: For all of Majestic 12's extreme actions, its commander does point out that Big Science Inc. knew that the predicted Biomega outbreak was A) coming, and B) much worse than anyone else expected, and didn't bother to tell anyone else or otherwise try to get assistance.
  • Jetpack: Used by the She-Devils.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: Discussed by the creators. When pitching a possible movie adaptation, the studio execs insisted that there be a kid protagonist involved; even though the creators argued that it wouldn't make sense for a child to be employed by Tesladyne, and that Robo himself would theoretically appeal to kid viewers enough as a big friendly robot. Eventually, they came up with the idea of a kid being swept up in an adventure through their Science Fair project, which was later turned into a FCBD comic.
  • Kill All Humans: Ivan Koshchey, the villain of the 2008 Free Comic.
  • Kinda Busy Here: In The Shadow from Beyond Time, young Robo attempts to battle the eponymous menace when it attacks while Tesla is out of town. Halfway through the battle, Tesla calls to check that he's doing his homework, and Robo has to pass off the background noise as a radio serial he's listening to.
  • Large Ham: Several examples:
    • H.P. Lovecraft
    • Helsingard, who can't resist making grand speeches about how he is definitely, absolutely, for sure this time going to kill Atomic Robo after seventy years of trying. And whose first appearance sets the tenor for pretty much all his other appearances. "Behold, the Helsingard!"
    • Dr. Dinosaur. "Behold my mastery of the mammal haiku!"
  • Law of Conservation of Normality: According to Word of God in various places, the threats that Robo faces are designed to adhere to this law as much as possible (for example, Robo fights extradimensional monsters but not alien invasions because the latter would necessitate a cultural shift; practical, functioning giant robots are out because of the necessary technologies to invent them should change the world).
  • Legacy Character:
    • There have been a number of British operatives code-named 'The Sparrow', all seemingly from the same family. Margaret Weir shows up in Dogs of War, and her grandson shows up in Ghost of Station X, with an interceding generation (female) mentioned.
    • By Word of God, Robo was mistaken for a previous "Ironhide" in Knights of the Golden Circle.
    • Dr. Hokuto inherits Dr. Yumeno's position twice; first as Guardian Red, later as the director of Big Science Inc.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: The Tunguska Event.
    Tesla: Should an intense young man and a wild-eyed gentleman ever approach you and mention the word "Tunguska", I want you to shoot them. Promise me.
  • Lightning Gun: When Robo has enough prep-time to pick his loadout, he tends to gravitate towards electricity-based weapons.
  • Limelight Series: Real Science Adventures
  • Made of Explodium: Everything that exists, according to Tesla.
  • Made of Iron: Robo, naturally enough. Over the years, Robo has replaced upwards of ninety-five percent of his chassis as parts inevitably wore out, better versions and new materials were developed, and new technologies were invented. (According to Word of God, "aside from his brain and his power core Id say by the 21st Century almost nothing of the original body would be left.") As a result, he is really, really tough. So far, the only things that brought him close to death have been a collision with an orbiting satellite followed by re-entry (Ghost of Station X), and a crashing zeppelin packed with highly explosive Green Rocks (Knights of the Golden Circle).
  • Mad Scientist: As a distinguished Robot of Science himself, it's no surprise that Robo encounters quite a few of these:
    • Vanadis Valkyrie, the female German scientist behind the Brute program.
    • Henrich von Helsingard as well. The guy was building tanks as early as 1888, and had cyborgs and mechanical bodies for his brain to ride in during WWII, and possibly earlier.
    • Thomas Edison is called this in the preview text for the final issue of Volume 5. He also has his own giant henchrobot.
    • Dr. Shinka in Volume 4, Issue 2.
    • There are scores of them throughout the B-stories, including one guy who was planning to cast a world-altering spell from a rocket.
    • Tesla is one as well, given is... peculiar approach towards building something as innocuous as an electronoscope. He is of the gentle, benevolent variety, though.
    • Dr Dinosaur isn't much of a scientist - most of his stuff is based on rubber science - but he makes up for it with extra madness.
      Dr Dinosaur [running from his own creation] What hath mad science wrought?!
  • Magitek:
    • The Backup story for Volume 1 Issue 3 is about Jack Parsons, who builds a rocket as part of a scheme to become a god. Robo blows it up midflight because it would have crashed into a city. No consideration was given to whether or not the magic would have worked.
    • Edison's plan hinged on a mystical crystal skull of Atlantean origin and Von Reichenbach's since-debunked Odic force.
  • Magnetic Weapons: The Humongous Mecha in "Atomic Robo Big in Japan" is armed with a giant railgun based on a design originally intended for launching payloads into orbit.
  • Mathematician's Answer: "The Trial of Atomic Robo":
    Robo: Can't believe this thing made it to court.
    Bernard: You mean the case or him?
    Robo: Yes.
  • Meaningful Name: Dr. Shinkanote 
  • Memetic Badass: invoked
    • Jenkins is an In-Universe example.
      Robo: Jenkins doesn't sleep. He holds back.
    • During the "Revenge of the Vampire Dimension":
      Robo: Oh, no. We're not trapped in here with them. They're trapped in here with Jenkins.
      New Guy: What's a Jenkins?
      Robo: Jenkins is... well, he's on our side. You'll come to appreciate that.
    • And during "The Ghost of Station X":
      Lang: What if they capture Jenkins?
      [cut to Jenkins brawling with multiple armed and armored mooks, a robot, and a helicopter—and winning]
      Robo: If they're lucky, it won't come to that.
    • The titular genius, nigh-indestructible, immortal atomic robot is his sidekick, according to Scott & Brian.
  • Monumental Battle: Robo's team is faced against a mysteriously walking pyramid. It gets destroyed, much to the ire of the Egyptian president.
  • MST3K Mantra: Discussed in-universe in The Shadow from Beyond Time, as Young Robo hasn't got the hang of it yet:
    Tesla: Tell me you're not planning to write them about their scientific accuracy again.
    Robo: Oh, the hack responsible for that mole men episode had it coming.
    Tesla: Leave those poor people alone. They only wish to entertain.
  • Necromancer:
    • Charles Fort mentions in issue 3.1 that Edison is in possession of a "necrophone," which apparently allows him to speak with the dead.
    • The device was seen in an earlier backup story. Edison used it to communicate with Rasputin's ghost. This is based on actual reports from the 1920s that Edison was working on just such a device.
  • Never Found the Body: Half of Robo's encounters with Dr. Dinosaur end up this way. And Robo takes it as a given that if no body was found, Jenkins is alive.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Robot mummies in a steam powered attack pyramid. With solar death rays.
  • Noble Shoplifter: In The Shadow from Beyond Time, Robo and his team stop at a gas station to refuel their vehicle while investigating a deserted town, and Robo leaves an appropriate amount of money and a note.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Quite logically for a robot (especially one lacking a mouth), but rare in fiction: the robot hero does not try to romance any of the pretty women that end up near him. Or anyone else. (Well, except for in Deadly Art of Science... But still, six out of seven ain't bad.)
  • Noodle Incident: Robo makes mention of a time he managed to convince a soldier that robots can get drunk (despite clearly lacking a mouth and thus the ability to drink) and got challenged to a drinking contest.
    Robo: Well, the repeatable part of the story ends there, but let's say it would not surprise me if your grandfather was nursing a little bit of that hangover to the very end.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The end of the second paperback has a letter written by Tesla stating that he intentionally left nothing about how he made Robo because he didn't want anyone building sentient robots for personal use.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: The Deadly Art of Science opens with Robo remarking gloomily that "Nothing exciting ever happens around here"; within pages he's become tangled up with a masked vigilante and a sinister mastermind with a crystal skull. It's played with a bit, though, with the intervening pages reminding us that Robo's baseline for "exciting" is a bit unusual in that for him Nikola Tesla attempting to pierce the subatomic veil with giant arcing electrical machines is an everyday occurrence. (Also, he's a talking robot.)
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Yeah Dr. Dinosaur comes off as an insane idiot but he's taken Robo down more than any other villain and in volume 8 he helps to basically destroy Tesladyne.
  • Obviously Evil: The computer Robo's employees construct in Volume 3 Issue 5.
    Robo: Computers that solve problems don't look like this. They're unassuming boxes on a desk. They're refrigerators without the exciting brand names. Computers that are evil have all kinds of unnecessary ornamentation. This thing's venting steam! Why's it doing that?
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Robo is highly proficient in several scientific fields; justified in that, as an 80+ -year-old robot, he's had plenty of time to study a lot of sciences. Enforced in the RPG, since the Science mode contains every single kind of science known to man, woman or robot; someone with Good (+3) Science has a decent grasp of everything from metallurgy to molecular biology.
  • Open Heart Dentistry: "Mouth's a hole. Bullet's a tooth."
  • Operator Incompatibility: Since he's a robot with non-human fingers, Atomic Robo can't operate a touch screen at all. In one scene, he's actually seen complaining to Steve Jobs about how useless the iPad is to him. Later, when Robo has to answer a call on a smartphone, he literally can't, for the same reason.
  • Our Monsters Are Different:
    • Cyborgs: Helsingard uses them virtually all the time. In his chronologically earliest appearance they even spool out their observations on ticker tape in Helsingard's command centre.
    • Eldritch Abomination: H.P. Lovecraft, Charles Fort, and Nikola Tesla fought one at Tunguska. It exists outside the Universe and is the Big Bad of volume 3, at one point coming out of HP Lovecraft's head. We mean that last part literally.
    • Kaiju: "Biomega".
    • Mummies: They are Clockwork Creatures.
    • Our Ghosts Are Different: In at least one case, namely Thomas Edison, it's actually a consciousnesses projected via Odic Force perturbations.
    • Our Vampires Are Different: These vampires are savage bloodsuckers from another dimension.
      Robo: They're not literally vampires. Sunlight, garlic, crosses, none of that applies. But we call them vampires because they're ageless super strong monsters that feed on the blood of the living.
  • Ow, My Body Part!: Once Robo's finally reactivated after a century with his head in a box, his first words are:
    Robo: My everything hurts.
  • Painting the Medium: In the 2008 Free Comic, Robo parachutes onto a remote island. As he comes down to land, he passes in front of the Scene Shift Caption.
  • Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: Dr. Dinosaur believes that "mammal energies" traveled back in time and killed all the other dinosaurs while granting him super-intelligence. Robo thinks this is BS and that Dr. D is just a genetic experiment.
  • Photographic Memory: Unusually for a comic book robot, Atomic Robo doesn't have one. It seems his memory works like an ordinary human's, not like a computer's. He can forget things, has to study for college exams, doesn't automatically learn foreign languages (e.g., he's never bothered to learn Japanese), etc. Tesla seems to have designed Robo this way intentionally not only to give him true free will, but also avert A.I. Is a Crapshoot (a machine that KNOWS it's as fallible as a human won't see any reason to overthrow them).
  • Pictorial Speech Bubble: The robot guards in the 2008 Free Comic express themselves like this.
  • Piggybacking on Hitler: Helsingard is doing this in his first appearance.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Jenkins uses his teeth to yank the pin out of a frag grenade while fighting the cyborgs in "Unearthed".
  • The Plan: ALAN lives on this trope. Its continued existence is due to its being hidden for 50+ years behind many layers of bureaucracy and manipulation going up to he highest levels of both the British and US governments (including Majestic 12). Not only was it able to successfully hide itself, but it also managed to build an Orion-class nuclear pulse starship in perfect secrecy on a Japanese island. Extra points for having done much of this via telephone and telegraph before the existence of the Internet. Exempli gratia: moving a house, intact, out of Bletchley Park, England, to Japan, via truck, boat and the sixth-ever-built Airbus Beluga (of which there are only 5), with no paper trail.
    Lewis: The sheer bureaucratic gymnastics behind that are mind bending.
  • Poke the Poodle: "Dr. Dinosaur's Revenge", where said being goes around the world plundering various electronic devices just to make a computer that floods Robo's inbox with junk mail.
    Dr. Dinosaur: From hell's heart, I spam at thee!
  • Power Crystal: Dr. Dinosaur swears by these things. Robo is more skeptical about them.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: This:
    Carl Sagan: When you return to your unobservable but empirically determined dimension of origin, tell them CARL SAGAN sent you.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Most of the Nazi soldiers.
    Soldier: [upon discovering a bomb] <Dammit, I don't even like Hitler.>
  • Putting the Band Back Together: In The Ring of Fire, from the Action Scientists who escaped the Majestic 12 raid and subsequent takeover. Vik, Lang, and Foley track down Bernard and reactivate Robo.
  • A Rare Sentence:
    • From The Ghost of Station X:
      Tucker: This is such an honor. I wanted to be a robot when I grew up! You were my hero! Hell, you're the reason why I'm a trucker.
      Robo: That's a sentence I've never heard before.
    • Before that, at the end of Deadly Art of Science:
      Jack Tarot: I had no idea I would spend the better part of a year living with and training a very obnoxious robot. What a ridiculous sentence. [...] P.S. Enclosed is the bill for the hat Edison's robot destroyed. What a ridiculous sentence.
  • Real After All: As Tesla and later Robo learned, the Odic force is very real, and the War of the Currents related to its use, with Thomas Edison later becoming a "ghost" made out of it.
  • Reality Ensues: Occasionally a problem for Robo.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Louis and Martin, after building the Obviously Evil supercomputer, find themselves transferred to Svalbard, Norway.
    Martin: I mean, honestly. Two years standing in a perpetual blizzard? It was one little mistake!
    Louis: We did nearly destroy the universe.
    Martin: Technically. But, y'know, we didn't.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Lampshaded in Volume 4 Issue 2, with Robo commenting how the Guardian suits' non-military applications alone could solve all of Dr. Yumeno's budget problem, with Yumeno responding by stating the suits' absurd maintenance time and cost. Meaning of course that not only can they not solve his budget problems, very likely they ARE his budget problems.
  • The Remnant: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific has CHOKAITEN; a rogue Japanese military unit that has been waiting six years since the end of the war to unleash a devastating super weapon that will sink the North American continent.
  • Retired Badass: Tesla. He never, ever even so much as blinks at all the Mad Science and insane adventures that crop around him. Compare to Robo, who normally is fabblergasterd by the shenanigans of the working Universe even after 80 years of life. Just by passing references, Robo is barely catching with him 57 years after he died.
    Tesla: [while Robo is battling a vampire] Robo, it is my conjecture that the Electronoscope is in fact, a portal to another dimension.
    Tesla: Either that or the subatomic world is actually filled with monsters. Hmmm.
  • Reverse Polarity: When a Tesladyne experiment accidentally causes an invasion from the Vampire Dimension, this is Robo's solution, only to discover the machine lacks a reverse setting. He considers this criminally negligent with the sort of ludicrous science they get up to.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: ALAN's attempts to kill Robo are intended to preempt one. The launch of his Orion Drive starship would wipe out all life on Earth, except for Robo. ALAN expects that Robo would then attempt to come after him.
  • Rogues Gallery:
    • Baron Heinrich Von Helsingard, quintessential Mad Scientist with a god complex.
    • Otto Skorzeny, Nazi commando with a squad of Laufpanzer tanks; responsible for Tesla's death.
    • Dr. Dinosaur, Genius Ditz and perpetual thorn in Robo's side, who may or may not be a time traveler.
    • The Shadow from Beyond Time appears at multiple points in Robo's life (sort of), and threatens to unmake all of reality.
    • Thomas Edison, Historical-Domain Character and Tesla's arch-rival, even in undeath.
    • The Vampire Dimension, a monster-infested reality that has occasionally tried to cross over into our world.
    • Majestic 12, a Government Conspiracy dedicated to seizing and weaponizing Tesla's technology for its own purposes, which it eventually succeeds in doing, forming Task Force ULTRA.
    • Department Zero, the Soviet counterpart to organizations like Tesladyne and Majestic. Following the collapse of the USSR, it split into several independent cells, among them a super-science Black Market and DELPHI, which specializes in psionic studies.
  • Robosexual: Robo and Helen in Volume 5.
  • Running Gag:
    • Despite eighty years of punching all manner of weirdness in the face, Robo manages to keep underestimating the volume of strangeness he has to deal with.
    • Magic Pants: He ends nearly every fight with pants intact, but naked to the waist.
    • Captain Crash: It's best if Robo doesn't take the stick. Just... let someone else fly, alright?
    • Jenkins being... well, Jenkins. invoked
    • The fifth cardinal direction, Zorth, that Robo discovered.
    • Capacitive touchscreens and insects, as well.
    • Many of Robo's encounters end with his antagonist's base (or sometimes the antagonist him/her/itself) exploding violently and flinging Robo through the air to land on his face in the snow/sand/mud/concrete.
  • Rule of Cool: Damn near everything.
  • Saved by Canon: The Distant Finale of "The Science Fair" takes place in 2021, indicating that Robo is rebuilt and Tesladyne is reestablished before then.
  • Science Hero: Robo himself, and many of his support scientists.
  • Sentai: Parodied in Volume 4, Issue 2 with Science Team Super Five, A team of Japanese Action Scientists who haven't fought monsters in decades and are supporting their technology through furious patent development.
  • Serious Business: Tesladyne treats the visit to the National Science Fair as a deadly-serious mission, even before Doctor Dinosaur shows up. Actually, they treat it less seriously after he shows up.
    Robo: Status report.
    Jenkins: We lost Jeff.
    [cut to Jeff getting swarmed by children fanboying over him]
    Robo: We don't leave agents behind. Take Julie and get him back.
  • Ship Tease: Every single time Robo and Helen share a scene.
  • Shooting Superman:
    • Robo is immune to small arms fire, and this has been demonstrated repeatedly over his 80+ year career in Action Science. Still doesn't stop Mooks from trying. And as Robo points out, just because it doesn't damage him doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.
    • Played with at one point: Otto Skorzeny shoots Robo with his gun at one point, and it seems like it had no effect. Only then do we notice that Robo is, in fact, disabled, by virtue of a special bullet. It doesn't stop there, however, since Skorzeny also planned to drop a trainload of heavy ordnance on top of him, for good measure.
  • Shout-Out: Definitely a good series for fans of this trope:
  • Shown Their Work:
    • It's not uncommon to see Brian blog or tweet about doing research for upcoming issues.
    • One of Martin and Lewis' discussions when investigating the disappearance of a whole building, revolves around A Glitch in the Matrix. The explanation for why it might be plausible, seems to be (loosely) based on the academic paper ''Are you living in a computer simulation?''.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Robo's whole discussion with ALAN is pretty much this.
  • Silicon-Based Life: The Hollow Earth. It may come from another world; the only evidence available is Bernard's "hallucinogenic intel" from eating a glowing rock.
  • Sky Pirate: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific spend much of their time battling sky pirates (and are considered sky pirates themselves by some of their foes).
  • The Slow Path: Robo's inactive head sits in a crate for over a century, following his destruction in 1884.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Jack Tarot. He's an incredibly competent pulp-style vigilante, a terror to mobsters and crack shot, but out of the league when it comes to super-science. But he laid the foundation for Robo becoming the Action Scientist hero that he is today:
    Jack Tarot: [after witnessing Tesla's thunder suit] It's official, we are out of our league.
  • Square/Cube Law: Lampshaded the impossibility of giant ants in Volume 1. Robo has to fight them anyway. By hitting them with cars. A giant monster attack in Volume 4 has Robo ask "Why do we even have the Square Cube Law?"
  • Stable Time Loop:
    • The Shadow from Beyond Time, though it's not a time loop, because time travel is obviously impossible. Instead, it's a single event being witnessed from multiple time-perspectives, and it's only possible because it involves physics from outside our universe.
      Robo: I met three future versions of myself who turned the lightning guns into a bomb using science they told me to invent.
    • There's another one, as of Knights of the Golden Circle: Robo is thrown back to 1870 by Dr. Dinosaur's "time bomb," where he gets mistaken for the armored hero "Ironhide." He runs out of power in 1884 and is destroyed in the crash of the Basilisk. Marshal Reeves salvages his head and mails it to a young Nikola Tesla, who mislays the package; it's subsequently put into deep storage at Tesladyne for the next hundred years, where it's finally recovered by Lang and Bernard. If Robo had ever gone through all of his father's possessions, it would have included a box that contained his own head.
  • Stating the Simple Solution:
    • In The Dogs of War, Otto Skorzeny attempts to kill Robo by using a missile to blow up a bridge in front of a train Robo's trapped on, and his companion asks why he didn't just target Robo directly. Skorzeny explains that the missile isn't powerful enough to kill Robo, and he has higher hopes of train-load of armaments Robo is about to have fall on top of him.
    • During his first encounter with Dr. Dinosaur, Robo is grappling with him when he states he could just fall backwards, and crush the reptile. Dr. Dinosaur wisely backs off.
  • Steampunk: A pyramid possesses not only a steam-based system that allows it to move, but a water-based computer.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Dr. Dinosaur is a Dromaeosaurid (for the less jargon-enabled, think "Velociraptor.") And it is explicitly stated that he can't be an actual velociraptor, since: 1. they're extinct, 2. he's too big, and 3. he doesn't have feathers. (Oh, and 4: real dinosaurs didn't have voice boxes.) Robo even states that he is modeled after the fictitious raptors from the Jurassic Park films. All of this Robo takes as evidence that Dr. Dinosaur isn't really a dinosaur at all, but some artificially created monster.
  • Storming the Beaches: The Dogs of War opens with the Allied forces storming the beaches of Sicily in July 1943.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Volume 2 has Robo fighting Nazi mecha (Laufpanzers), Nazi supersoldiers, and various weird science like lightning guns and a railgun emplacement on Nazi-held Guernsey which turns out to be a "weather cannon". Robo lampshades just how dumb that sounds.
  • Sudden Lack Of Signal: At the end of The Savage Sword of Doctor Dinosaur, Robo gets teleported through time into the 19th century. He tries contacting base by radio — nothing. He tries to establish his position by GPS — nothing. Then he realizes that he can't detect any radio signals of any kind...
  • Super Soldier: Volume 2, Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War, has Nazi supersoldiers developed as a part of the Special Weapons Program. They're hardly the archetype of the Aryan ideal, being slavering brain-dead beasts with insane levels of strength and endurance.
  • Surprise Witness: And it is most definitely not a genetically engineered killing machine! Truly, the world missed out on a great lawyer when Dr Dinosaur chose mad science.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Dr Dinosaur does this all the time because he has virtually no filter between his scrambled brain and his mouth.
    Emma: ...and now he's doing Doctor Who references at you!
    Dr. Dinosaur: It is only a coincidence! I do not even know who Tom Baker is!
  • The Syndicate: The Knights of the Golden Circle are described as "the first and largest criminal syndicate in American history", but are ultimately absorbed into Baron von Helsingard's army.
  • Syndication Title: When Atomic Robo and the Vampire Dimension was collected, it was retitled Atomic Robo and Other Strangeness. Probably because the Vampire Dimension was in only the first issue.
  • Take That:
  • Talking Is a Free Action/You Fight Like a Cow: Robo could give Spidey a run for his money.
  • Technical Pacifist: Tesla would never shoot anybody, heavens no! Because he has a very capable automatic man to do that for him.
  • Those Two Guys: Martin and Lewis.
  • Time and Relative Dimensions in Space: One of the page's quotes comes from Robo's thorough debunking of time travel.
  • Time Skip: Naturally, due to the series' Anachronic Order. A straight example is The Knights of the Golden Circle, which takes place 14 years after Robo ends up in 1870 at the end of The Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur.
  • Totally Not a Werewolf:
    Robo: They're not literally vampires. Sunlight, garlic, crosses, none of that applies. But we call them vampires because they're ageless super strong monsters that feed on the blood of the living.
  • Two-Fisted Tales:
    • Robo has encountered and fought Nazis, Lovecraftian monsters, Mad Scientists, and ancient doomsday weapons, just to name a few.
    • The original title for the fourth series/volume was "Atomic Robo's Two-Fisted Science Tales". Scott Wegener has also mentioned that he and Clevinger play an unwritten "Atomic Robo: Two-Fisted Tales of Action Science" tabletop RPG. One of which is now being made.
  • Translation Convention: When someone is speaking in a translated foreign language it's written <in angular brackets>.
  • Un-Person: The villain of the 2008 Free Comic is a Russian genius whom Stalin gave a secluded laboratory and then wiped from all records so that no foreign power would be able to make use of his work.
  • Unsound Effect: "DOOR!" from the first issue.
  • We Can Rule Together: ALAN offers Robo the chance to join him in escaping the planet and travel the Cosmos, in a nuclear-powered, Earth-destroying Orion spacecraft.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Other Strangeness has a male example. Robo is interviewing two job applicants: Rex Cannon, who has an impressive military record and multiple doctorates; and Bernard, who's clearly in over his head. Cannon, of course, is the one who gets killed out of nowhere when vampires invade.
  • Wave Motion Gun:
    • Nikola Tesla converted his Wardenclyffe transmitter into a kiloton deathray to combat The Shadow when it first showed up in 1908.
    • The Lightining Guns that Robo uses are essentially scaled-down models.
  • Weapon of Choice: Robo prefers Lightning Guns, as mentioned above.
  • We Are Team Cannon Fodder: The Action Scientists aside from Jenkins turn into this during the Helsingard fight.
    Robo: Why do I even bring Action Scientists?
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Majestic 12. Despite everything they've done, they are trying to defend the planet from a predicted Biomega outbreak that would devastate civilization.
  • Wham Episode: At the end of The Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur, Majestic 12 attacks Robo and his allies, Jenkins blows up Tesladyne, Dr. Dinosaur's device goes off, and Robo is teleported into the year 1870.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Played with when Tesla and Robo capture a vampire-like monster from another dimension and Tesla wants to vaporize it for analysis. When Robo points out that while it's technically not alive he isn't either, Tesla instead decides to find more about them by sending Robo to investigate its home-dimension. Upon finding they populate a post-apocalyptic landscape and immediately attack Robo, they decide that, yes, it's entirely OK to kill them.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?:
    • The second issue implies that Robo has a bittersweet outlook on his immortality. He doesn't (openly) angst about it, though; in a televised interview, he coyly alludes to the problem by saying that he's annoyed that nobody understands his Jack Benny impersonation anymore. This is after privately reminiscing about a dear WWII-era friend who just died of old age.
    • Thomas Edison's plan in 1931 was to use New York as an antenna for his Odic Capacitor, and concentrate enough Life Energy into himself to become immortal. When the machine exploded, his consciousness got scattered across the Od, only pulling itself back together as a ghostly manifestation in 1999. When he finds that Robo's analysis inadvertently restored his corporeality (in part), he's not happy about it. He's later seen nostalgically returning to his historical estate, now a museum.
      Edison: You shouldn't have brought me back!
  • Who You Gonna Call?: TESLADYNE!
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Robo has a phobia about bugs crawling into his body and mucking up his internals. Guess what shape the Eldritch Abomination takes during its third encounter with Robo? Robo's phobia is strong enough that he refuses to enter rain forests unless he has a BFG in hand.
  • World of Badass: Admit it. When a ham radio community can successfully track down a over 50 year old conspiracy—with short wave radio no less—then this is a badass world.
  • Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: Skorzeny tries this on the Sparrow in The Dogs of War, taking a moment to reminisce about the death of her brother, the previous Sparrow, just to make her imminent death more painful.
  • Wrench Wench: Lauren of the She-Devils.
  • X Meets Y: Knights of the Golden Circle is described by its creators as "Back to the Future Part III / Tombstone crossover fanfic".
  • You Already Changed The Past: Being stuck in the 1800s not only shatters Robo's conviction that time travel is impossible, it leaves him terrified of causing some kind of temporal paradox. He hangs a note on his wall reminding himself "Do Nothing - unless you're supposed to." He eventually decides "It's not a paradox if I was already part of the past."
  • You Can Talk?: H.P. Lovecraft is rather shocked to discover that the "pygmy" (Robo) speaks English.
    Lovecraft: See how it vainly cobbles together a string of sounds not unlike words?
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good: Robo is not at all impressed with how ALAN has used its power
    Robo: You had all that time. All that power and, and influence. All this technology. You could have helped them.
    ALAN: I don't understand. Why?
  • You Killed My Father: Skorzeny reveals to Robo in Madrid, 1974, that he killed Tesla. It's an attempt to get the latter to kill him and spare him a slow, painful death due to cancer. Robo doesn't give it to him.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: In The Knights of the Golden Circle, Robo is running out of fuel, due to being stranded in the 19th century.