Okay, so I’ve seen the same reaction to Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #1 in a wide range of places, and I’m a little tired of it.
Basically: “Robo is too surprised by the She-Devils. He keeps bringing up their gender over and over and it’s really tiresome, or annoying, or sexist, or all of the above.”
Counterpoint: you’re wrong.
There are 22 pages in this issue. Robo meaningfully interacts with one or more of the She-Devils in 12 of them. Let’s take a look.
Page 7, bottom. Robo is surprised to learn that the jetpack men who rescued him are in fact women. I think we’re allowed one reaction without over doing it, yeah?
Page 8, top. Still reacting, so the same incident.
Pages 9 – 14. Not at all surprised to meet a lady engineer, a lady navigator, a lady pilot, or their lady captain.
Page 15, middle. Realizes everyone on the island is a lady: finds that unusual.
And that’s it.
Two reactions — two and a half if we’re being generous — to two different ideas nine pages apart: 1) The person Robo assumed was a man is a woman, and 2) The entire secret island’s population is made up of women.
To the first, well, I think mistaking someone’s identity usually involves surprise on the part of at least one of the parties. To the second, I’d like to put forward the perhaps radical idea that an uncharted South Pacific island full of women AWOL from WW2 is actually unusual. We’ve seen Robo immediately doubt unusual things when he first encounters them for six volumes. His reaction here is no different, and it’s not out of proportion to other unusual events he’s come across.
Maybe it’s something about the rest of the issue then? We noted above that Robo interacts with She-Devils for twelve pages but we’ve only looked at nine of them so far.
Pages 16 – 18. The only thing that surprises Robo is how the lady engineer who designed and built the jetpacks out of scrap isn’t a millionaire.
So, in what possible way was that, “bringing up their gender over and over“?