When writer Geoff Johns left Marvel, then DC, and established Mad Ghost, he promised a whirlwind of creativity. He’s delivered, partnering with Gary Frank to create “Geiger” and “Junkyard Joe,” independently, but with an affiliation with Image Comics.
Independently producing the series provides greater creative control and that translates to going in any direction the creative team desires.
In the case of “Geiger,” that means expanding the backstory to fully explore each villain or supporting character that catches their fancy. The comic book “Junkyard Joe,” which releases its fourth issue on January 25, 2023, became the first of the spinoff series. Another comic book series, “Redcoat,” has yet to hit the stands, but Mad Ghost does plan to release a spinoff series of it, too.
What Makes a Killer Robot Lovable?
Some might wonder how they chose the robot as the first backstory to fully explore. Well, Joe didn’t begin his mechanical life evil. He has an excuse, unlike humans. The military reprogrammed him. When we first meet Junkyard Joe in the Giant issue of Geiger, he’s a killing machine, but one of the good guys. Joe gets sent to protect US troops in the Vietnam War and he performs fabulously.
In his original programming, he can’t hurt an American. He’s built to protect and keep the USA safe. The military programmed Joe as a patriot’s patriot. Although he’s metal and electrodes, Joe’s as American pie as a guy can get.
With the military and what’s left of the 2050 US government out to get Geiger, when they misuse heroic Joe, audiences find it relatively easy to side with the robot. He’s not evil; he’s misprogrammed
Joe’s on a Quest
Who doesn’t want to get to know their parents? As Joe’s programming improves, so does his sentience. Performing rote tasks leaves little room for thought, but as his shell ages and his programming changes, the robot looks for his place in the world.
He wants to find who made him. Joe needs understanding and purpose.
In Junkyard Joe, the series creators crafted a character who touches our humanity without having his own. The story offers multiple layers because, in Geiger, we read a story within a story. There’s the Joe that Muddy meets in Vietnam. There’s also the cartoon character that the robot Joe inspires Muddy to create. Yes, there’s a comic character and strip within an actual comic book in both Geiger and Junkyard Joe.
The cartoon within the comic book inherently appeals to readers. It adds to Joe’s original nice guy, uh, nice robot, image.
Summing Up Junkyard Joe
Technically, we can’t yet sum him up because Frank and Johns continue to add to his story. Because all of the characters in The Unnamed Universe tie in together, even when one series end, such as “Geiger” did, that doesn’t mean the end of the characters in it.
In exploring Joe’s origins and existence, we can better understand how he fits into Geiger’s life story, too.