Reviews, Comics

Dawnrunner #1 Review: Get in the Robot

Step into the fascinating world of Dawnrunner, the exciting new mecha comic book by Ram V and Evan Cagle from Dark Horse Comics.

Dawnrunner 1 Review Cover
Image: Dark Horse Comics
By: Javier ReyesMar 27, 2024, 10:58 AM

Dawnrunner #1

Review
Rating
10
Excellent
Dawnrunner 1 Full Cover

Writer: Ram V.

Artist: Evan Cagle

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Release Date: March 20, 2024

Page Count: 32

Format: Single-issue

Ram V. and Evan Cagle dazzle with a stylish mecha and kaiju story that delivers action on a massive scale with a pinch of sci-fi mystery for added flavor.

Aren’t mechas just the sickest things ever? From Gundam to Pacific Rim, there’s just something so raw and exciting about seeing giant robot suits engage in over-the-top action. So, with my love for all kinds of mecha media, it was a no-brainer for me to pick up Dawnrunner by Ram V. and artist Evan Cagle. Mecha and kaiju action from some of the best creators working in comics right now? Sign me all the way up for this! But I don’t want to get too ahead of myself here. As much as this comic delivered plenty of what I was hoping for, it also had surprises that I'm eager to see more of. If you want to know more about the intriguing new sci-fi comic, then check out my full review of Dawnrunner #1 below!

Dawnrunner 1 - Introduction to a runnerImage: Dark Horse Comics

Overview

In the distant future, a mysterious alien race called the Tetza invades Earth through a mysterious portal. It takes decades for humanity to adapt and survive against the horrors that pour out of the portal. Using a massive structure called The Wall and mechas known as Iron Kings, humanity contains the spread of Tetza and studies the origins of the monstrous race. However, what once was a fight for survival has since become the greatest form of entertainment in the world. Anita Marr is the world’s best Iron King pilot tasked with taking the latest IK model known as Dawnrunner for a spin. But after something strange happens on the test run, 

Dawnrunner 1 - Character aerial shotImage: Dark Horse Comics

Review

Dawnrunner is touted as a mecha and kaiju comic book of epic proportions, and its debut delivers exactly what it promises. The first half of the issue is unsurprisingly frontloaded with exposition, detailing the existence of the monsters and how the mechas known as Iron Kings (no relation to the Tekken character, unfortunately) are on the frontlines of saving humanity. The story interestingly delves into the conflict’s purpose and how its meaning changed over time. Having the fight against the Tetza be presented as a sport feels like a unique take on the genre, as it sets up intriguing tension points throughout the story. The state of the world shows how some characters seek to understand the Tetza, while others are more concerned about how much money they can make from exploiting the monsters for entertainment. Then there’s the story’s hero, Anita Marr, who has become somewhat of a reluctant celebrity because of her piloting ability. Even with details still scarce about her character, I’m fascinated to see where things go for her after the intriguing cliffhanger that drops at the end of the issue.

With context about the world established, the second half of the issue has what you’re waiting for in a book that boasts mechas and kaiju. Seeing Dawnrunner clash with a massive Tetza at the issue’s climax is well worth the build-up, as the action has an immense sense of scale that makes the battle feel over the top. I can’t overstate how much the art team kills it in this debut. Truth be told, I only knew Evan Cagle for his phenomenal covers on Detective Comics. So, I was blown away by how detailed his art is for the internals of this comic. Not only are the Iron Kings reminiscent of the sleek and vibrant designs of Evangelions, but the Tetza also stand out with their monstrous and bug-like appearance. Even as someone who’s not the biggest mecha-head, I got incredibly hyped from seeing the action that unfolds throughout this issue. And while the mechas and monsters unsurprisingly steal the show, everything else about the world is designed with such stylish and futuristic flair. The pairing of Cagle’s incredible lines with Dave Stewart’s colors and Aditya Bidikar's colors is a dream team of artists that brings to life a world that looks beautiful and brutal.

Dawnrunner 1 - Creature and a group of peopleImage: Dark Horse Comics

Final Thoughts

This first issue pushes all the right buttons to showcase what Dawnrunner is all about. Ram V’s slick writing gets elevated by the incredible work of artists Evan Cagle, Dave Stewart, and Aditya Bidikar. Together, they’ve set up the pieces for a bustling sci-fi world that feels unique and endlessly stylish. While the promise of mechas fighting action will be what gets you into the cockpit of this series, it’s the intriguing story being built up that will keep you seated. 

Why You Should Read Dawnrunner

  • This comic is a must-read if you’re into mecha and kaiju.
  • The sports-like presentation of the kaiju battles makes for a unique take on the genre.
  • Evan Cagle kills it with the design of the world, characters, mechas, and monsters.

TAGGED: Dark Horse Comics
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