Saturday, March 11, 2006

Transformers Comic Review...

GIJOE vs. Transformers: The Art of War #1
(series three from Devil's Due)

Format: Limited series (one of five)

Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Joe Ng

Cover Art:
Cover A by Joe Ng, Espen Grundetjern, Tom Liu;
Cover B by Tim Seeley and Rob Ruffulo;
Cover C by Don figueroa and Sunder Raj

Synopsis: In the desert of New Mexico, a secret base (Area 52) houses the remains of the Decepticons forces from Earth (we see Megatron and Soundwave's heads). A science team experiments around Megatron's head and talks about the great power they could obtain from Cybertronian technology--it's usefulness to America and ensuring that they stay the dominant force in the
world. A few levels above them, GIJOE welcomes a team of Autobots from Cybertron (Perceptor, Grmlock, Arcee and Bumblebee). The Autobots have been sent by Optimus Prime to retrieve the Joe's mech-suit things (from volume 2, I guess--I never read those), thus leaving no Cybertronian tech on Earth. Just then, on cue, Cobra Commander launches an assault on the base with a legion of B.A.T.S (Battle.Android.Tacti--who cares! They're robot soldiers;). The Joes and TFs repel the attackers, but it's just a distraction while Cobra Commander and Zartan sneak into the base (using intel from Zarana, who's disguised). The three Cobras decide to steal the new Serpent O.R. android--a prototype shell made with Cybertronian technology and programmed with the battle tactics of history's greatest conquerors. Cobra Commander thinks it would be a great asset for Cobra so he sets it free. The robot comes to life... it has not been programmed as of yet and it appears that Megatron attempts to access it's brain. The robot attacks Cobra Commander and his
allies, knocking them out while it accesses Soundwave's mind and learns what's going on and what it is. It sees Megatron's head and calls it "father". Putting on Serpent armor, it decides it must seek out the Autobot Matrix of Leadership--the source of great power!

Comments: There's two ways to take a story like this... either it's a blast from the past! A great re-imagining of classic story elements with a modern twist. The other way is to consider it a total hack job that mines old stories with an eye to playing on their nostalgia. I think I drift more to the latter.
I gave volume one of GIJOE vs. Transformers a chance, wasn't impressed by what I saw and then skipped out on volume two entirely. This is volume three now and I still see the same elements I saw in volume one.
For one thing, the story plays like a old GIJOE cartoon. This may or may not be to one's liking... for my tastes, the cartoons were always a bit simplistic (although sometimes imaginative) which is why I preferred the comics. The plot follows certain convenient contrivances--Cobra just happens to attack exactly when the Autobots have arrived; as always, Zartan/Zarana or somebody manages to infiltrate a high security facility with ease; the Joes happen to be exactly in the right place at the right time, etc. Also, Serpentor is from the original 80s concept. Originally, he was a clone programmed with the tactics and minds of the most brillant military conquerors of history--at the time, somehow Cobra Commander never considered such a personality would possibly want to run the show. This time, Serpentor is a android but the same thing applies. As it happens, that plot isn't pursued but one does wonder why none of the characters think about the obvious in these stories. For that matter, why do they always make something like a superpowerful android that can be easily co-opted for evil?
Also, the story is chock full of dumb little fan jokes like,
"I didn't know they made girl robots."
"Arcee. I get that a lot."
Or... in reference to Megatron's severed head.
"This machine, Martin... is not a toy."
Ha, ha, hah..?
The plot is fairly obvious too. Serpentor runs amok, gains resources, makes some plan to get the matrix and/or use it to rule everyone. Due to some spunky good guys, he'll fail in the nick of time. But...insert epilogue to set up the next series.
The art is by Joe Ng and is inconsistent. Some frames look good but others seem detail-less. I think they're trying to go for an anime-esque look in their characters like Dreamwave used to. I don't much care for it, though. I remember in the old days, comic artists used to actually have to have talent.

If you liked the first or second volume of Devil's Due Joe/TF crossover, you'll probably like this one too. If not, then I'd pass on this one.

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