Time for another 2000AD reissue, although this one is mainly from the little-plundered archives of Starlord (not to be confused with the Marvel US character, currently part of the Guardians of the Galaxy line-up!)
Ro-Busters hails from the early days, when the 2000AD stable of comics was obsessed with robots. Much like the apes taking over the world in Planet of the Apes and its sequels, comics saw robots threatening to take over. Ro-Busters took some time to hit its stride, however, and the dozen or so stories collected here are from the strip’s beginnings. Borrowing the international rescue concept from Thunderbirds, it’s the characters rather than the plots that really make this collection, especially war veteran robot Hammerstein and cleaning droid Ro-Jaws.
Despite character designs by Kevin O’Neill, the majority of the strips are illustrated by Carlos Pino, who does a perfectly serviceable but unremarkable job. Dave Gibbons and Ian Kennedy are the stand-out artists, and once the strip transfers to 2000AD, the stories and art seem to pick up, gradually becoming more sophisticated. The strips move away from the ‘disaster of the week’ scenario, as writer Pat Mills begins to make more of the characters he’s created. Ro-Jaw’s Memoirs is a particularly stand-out strip.
There’s a brand new Mike McMahon cover but the muted grey colours don’t sing or leap off the page, and the whole package seems to be a missed opportunity. It’s a nice, hardback package for collectors, but it seems unlikely to win over new fans and most collectors probably already have the original comics or one of the previous reprint collections.