Thursday, October 06, 2005

Transformers Comic (Capsule) Review...

Transformers: Timelines #1
“Descent into Evil”

Format: One-shot
Availability: Convention Exclusive comic

Writer: Ben Yee
Artist: Dan Khanna, Makoto Ono
Inks: Chuck Gibson, Ted Pertzborn, Makato Ono
Chris Appel (wraparound cover art)

Synopsis: Tripredacus Agent Flamewar's ship hovers over the planet Ceti Alpha Seven as she delivers a report to the Tripredacus Council. She reports that Deathsaurus was successful in the creation of the first batch of Insecticon Clones, a project he hopes will help bolster his forces and eventually aid in the revival of the Decepticon Empire.
She explains that an Autobot team was sent to Ceti Alpha Seven to destroy Deathsaurus' Insecticon Clone lab. Four Autobots were dispatched to the ground, while two remained on the ship. The team on the ground consisted of Fallback, Chromia, Flare-up and Ricochet. They are soon attacked by Dirge (an Insecticon, not the jet character) and his legion of Insecticon clones.
They hold their own until Deathsaurus shows up and finishes them all off. Above on the Autobot ship, Ironhide and Ratchet watch the battle grimly and realize they have to go in to rescue the team. They fight well against the clones and also Dirge and Buzzclaw (both the Insecticon Generals). Deathsaurus arrives again and then Ironhide is attacked from behind by Flamewar, who knocks him out.
Deathsaurus is furious the Tripredacus Council would interfere with his plans, but Flamewar doesn't care. She explains she has also knocked out Ratchet and leaves the Decepticon steaming angry.
Inside the laboratory, Ironhide and Ratchet awake to find themselves captive. On a nearby screen, Deathsaurus explains that a second batch of clones was created, and he is leaving with them with the lab set to explode! Ratchet and Ironhide seem doomed until Ricochet shows up to free them and they quickly escape with the damaged Autobots in tow.
The Tripredacus Council is thrilled by this, seeing possibilities in Deathsaurus' success. Suddenly, their transmission to Flamewar's ship is interrupted by Autobot Intelligence Director, Bumblebee! Bumblebee explains that the second batch of Clones was infected with a virus that will cause them to malfunction and shut down, and any clones made from them will do the same. He is also happy to have found Flamewar, whom Autobot Intelligence has been hunting for ages. The Tripredacus Council now sees Flamewar as a liability, and with a touch of a button, they destroy her ship with her in it!
(Abbreviated synopsis from Ben Yee’s site).

It all sounds complicated but the story is actually pretty simple and there to help sell fans on this current batch of convention exclusives. I especially enjoyed that it was an enclosed one-shot and not the kick-off to some over-complicated, time and space epic like past convention comics have done. The story was competently written by fan Ben Yee, who pays respect to the classic characters of Ironhide, Ratchet and Deathsaurus without needing to have them show up and be killed or conveniently reformatted for story purposes (they’re already changed but Ironhide and Ratchet still look right while Deathsaurus has a newer, more powerful form that makes sense in the story).
The art by is pretty nice looking. Not necessarily the best art ever done but much better then some of the previous con comics.
The comic is more or less a throwaway story. It doesn’t make any real difference to the TF cannon and will not be followed up (as far as this reviewer is aware). However, it is there to sell the convention exclusives and I believe it accomplishes it’s goal very well. Additionally, a one-shot story is more interesting then past convention comics and their complicated, unresolved epic storyline. The wraparound cover is the same as the artwork on the toy set and it’s a beautiful painting of the Autobot team vs. Deathsaurus and his Decepticons. I love the cover!


Transformers #0
“Prelude to Infiltration”

Format: ongoing
Availability: Convention exclusive first then general release (available late October 05)

Writer: Simon Furman
Artist: EJ Su
Cover art by Aaron Archer (convention exclusive version).

Synopsis: The story begins when a teenage runaway named Verity Carter steals a laptop from a business man on a bus with her. The teen thief believes she’s gotten herself a nice new toy but it’s not long before she discovers she’s in for more then she ever bargained for. Verity leaves the bus and hitches a ride from a conspiracy theorist named Hunter O’Nion. Not long after, they find her bus was attacked by two mysterious cars (Runamuck and Runabout, btw) and that her mark (the salesman) is now missing from among the passengers. Verity and Hunter continue warily along their way where he tells her he’s out in the desert looking for...extraterrestrial robots! She thinks he’s nuts until they’re suddenly assaulted by an F22 fighter (that has no pilot. Appears to be Thundercracker). It blows up their van and comes around for another pass when a white van (Ratchet) shows up and shoots at it, scaring the jet away for the moment. The van’s holographic driver tells them to come with it if they want to live.
The comic also includes an editorial by Chris Ryall and short interviews with Simon Furman and EJ Su (separately).

Comments: This one definitely has a more interesting story. Simon Furman is at his best with this issue. He begins the story from the token human’s perspective but it works very well and the humans in this have enough variety in personality that they may prove able to support the story itself when the big bad kewl robots aren’t around. EJ Su’s artwork is more...functional then the Dreamwave art previously was. It’s less shiny pin-up style but it also works to tell the story better–also, we don’t have to suffer Pat Lee’s pseudo-anime style with Humans (which I didn’t care for).
The TFs only appear in vehicle mode in this story (except for somebody in silhouette, issuing orders–I think this is Starscream) but all are sharp and angular looking like hard-built, tough machines. The preview art I’ve seen makes them more mechanical looking, which I think will suite this comic’s story well.
The purpose of an issue zero is to give a taste of things to come, to tease you with the story’s potential. This comic does that very well and, for the first time in a long while, I actually am looking forward to the next issue of a Transformers comic.
This Botcon version of issue zero comes with an exclusive Aaron Archer cover. It’s okay looking, maybe even well-suited to show a comic with Prime and several sketches beyond him. It gives a sense of design or beginning, which is appropriate for the beginning of a new comic. If you have to settle for the newsstand versions, you won’t be disappointed though–one cover in particular is awesome. The Prime/Megatron battle scene is painted and just beautiful looking (by comparison, the BC cover is kind of sparse).


---Reviewed by Thunder

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