Friday, January 02, 2015

Review: Transformers Monstrosity

Transformers: Monstrosity

Writers: Christ Metzen and Flint Dille
Artist: Livio Ramondelli
(covers by Livio Ramondelli)
Price: $19.99 USd
Format: TPB (collected edition of previous web series)
Available: December 2013

Summary:  In the early days of the war on CYBERTRON, OPTIMUS PRIME puts everything on the line to unify the planet-but not everyone agrees that this new Prime should be in charge! Meanwhile, the fallen DECEPTICON leader, MEGATRON, begins a journey that will change everything.

Comments:  Monstrosity is the follow-up to the Metzen/Dille story, Autocracy (also a IDW web comic to begin with). Where the first series chronicled the rise of Optimus Prime in the midst of Cybertron's darkest time, its sequel comes off as feeling like it's meandering with no ultimate point. We eventually get to see Trypticon rise and wreak havoc against our heroes but the rest of the story seems scattered... Megatron is exiled only to survival his trials and return. Optimus struggles to lead the various factions under his command and fails miserably in the end to conquer his greatest challenge to date.
   Other then Trypticon being the titular "monstrosity" the story doesn't seem to know what it wants to do. There's not much thematically pulling it all together (contrast this with Autocracy's themes of power corrupting those who possess it). Megatron is challenged and rises above while Optimus has naysayers and self-doubt and ultimately is revealed to be nothing more then a leader with a dream of unity and peace. The thing is, Optimus should be Megatron's equal and while Megatron uses his sheer cunning and will to achieve his ends we should get to see Optimus use his own skill set to succeed. To use him as a whipping boy just dishonors the heart of a character who should be a heroic inspirational leader. There's hints of it in there but ultimately Optimus seems to achieve nothing substantial storywise.
   Ramondelli's artwork is improving as he goes but there is still the odd occasion where I view a panel and have no clue what it is I'm supposed to be looking at. The very first reveal of Trypticon, for example, left me confused. Only the later descriptions of the creature lead me to realize what it was.
   Another annoyance is the robots referring to themselves as "gentlemen" repeatedly (human terminology for robots really distracts me away from a TF story. I also disliked James Roberts usage of a "cyber-aneurysm" in Last Stand of the Wreckers). Grimlock speaks normally in this story too for some reason.
   The story also implies that the Dynobots have dinosaur modes because of the creatures under Cybertron's surface while an earlier tale (Spotlight: Shockwave) stated they got them from Earth when they chased after Shockwave. Presumably the early era of IDW is still in-continuity so I'm at a loss to understand how this makes any sense.
   Megatron encounters a Quintesson (is this the first time we've seen one in IDW?) and somehow uses his Spark to power himself up on planet Junk. I've never seen Sparks referred to as power sources--they're an analogy for souls. This story detail made no sense to me.
   After their first attempt, I found Monstrosity to be a poorly told disappointment... Perhaps the forthcoming Primacy will be more pleasing? 

Verdict:  Average. A pass for me personally... some decent dialogue and mostly good art elevate to an "Average" rating.

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