A boy and his friends—including a robot dog—face off against the villainous Dr. Crazybrains.
New kid Marty Fontana wants to avoid the dreaded dork label at his new school—so naturally, everything goes wrong in comedically humiliating ways. But standard dork-versus-cool tropes (such as lunch-table–codified social hierarchy) are freshened by amplifying the silliness to new heights (archetypal cool kid Shades sleeps wearing sunglasses to “look cool in his dreams”). The Zeroes Marty ends up befriending are genuinely nice: upbeat, friendly, fact-loving Ralph Rogers and proud-to-be-different daredevil Skyler Kwon. Even better, they like Marty’s favorite video game, Sheriff Turbo-Karate, and they all find virtual success via team-up. Celebrating, they discover Awesome Dog 5000, a robot left behind by a mysteriously vanished scientist. When Awesome Dog and Marty accidentally wreck Dr. Crazybrains’ birthday party, the pernicious potion-maker (so evil he dubs his butler Mr. Poopsie) vows vengeance. Said vengeance has a few hiccups, but once he captures Marty it’s up to the Zeroes and Awesome Dog 5000 to save him. The final battle is cartoonishly ridiculous. The binary moral (coolness is bad/dorkiness is good) is expected, so it’s good the jokes are so far out there. All characters appear light-skinned in the black-and-white illustrations; Skyler is coded Asian. The cartoon art (with a surprise at the end) emphasizes the cockamamie, fart-joke–heavy humor.
Ludicrously juvenile, just the way its audience likes it. (Science fiction. 7-11)