Long after the last human has died off, most robots continue to perform the functions for which they were built. But sometimes an illegal bohemian chip sends a robot in search of more, across the Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life.
In a distant future, robots attended to all of human's needs until they slowly and happily died out. Now our entire solar system is inhabited exclusively by robots, who mostly carry out their original functions. Explorer bots keep on exploring; sexbots keep on sexing things up; warrior bots find themselves locked in eternal war. Chris and Ben are a pair of assembly bots, toiling away assembling other robots under the hot Mercury sun. But one day, they realize that the robots they're assembling are their replacements and are faced with a choice: turn themselves in for parts, or follow their bohemian drives and take a road trip across the solar system.
And it's going to be a long, strange trip through the nine planets (we don't yet know if Pluto is back in the club) indeed. Venus offers women and sleaze – robots on other planets don't even have sex drives. Earth offers a chance to reflect on the fate of the human race, and plenty of museums. On Mars, the remaining soldiers are busily blowing each other up and annexing each other's apartments by force.
For Ben and Chris, getting out of each planet alive is obviously job one. But more than that, Nine Planets is a trip about self-exploration. Stagnancy is almost as a great a threat as death; Chris longs to figure out his purpose in life, but has no idea where to begin; Ben's more inclined to drink than seek out new experiences.
It's a thoughtful comic, but creator Kit Roebuck manages to keep the comic from getting maudlin. After all, Nine Planets is, at its core, a buddy comedy, and Roebuck employs a wide range of humor, from satire to running gags. It's a fun trip through this wacky solar system of ours, one that suggests humanity's extinction is hardly the end of the world.
I was inspired to read Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life by El Santo's review of it at The Webcomic Overlook.