Sunday, July 16, 2006

Transformers Comic Review...

Transformers Infiltration #6

Writer: Simon Furman
Artist: E.J. Su

(Covers by E.J. Su, Guido Guidi, Klaus Scherwinski and Nick Roche)

Synopsis: Starscream charges up on the new Energon they'd discovered while his troops worry about facing Megatron. Elsewhere, Ratchet gets the three humans to safety and thanks them for their help--its time for them to step back and let the others deal with matters. Wheeljack, Jazz, Prowl, Sunstreaker and Ironhide travel to the Decepticon's current base while Bumblebee is already there and keeping tabs on what's going on. Megatron materializes and yells Starscream's name. Starscream dispatches Astrotrain, Runamuck, Runabout and Thundercracker to take him on... however, Megatron warns them they risks their lives going against him so they promptly stand down. Starscream emerges, disgusted at his warriors cowardice and attacks Megatron. The two duel while the Autobot team arrives and save Bumblebee when Runabout notices his presence. Megatron finishes off Starscream, blasting a large hole through him and takes his warriors back inside the base. He is informed of the Autobots presence but all he says to them is the words "phase two" before retreating. The Autobot team retreat to their Ark base under Lake Michigan, unaware a covert team of humans is watching them as they do. Below, the strike team talk and Prowl says its time to call in Optimus Prime, unaware he has already arrived...

Comments: So Infiltration ends and we await the direct continuation in Escalation #1. I'm not sure why IDW is taking this type of strategy, where one story is a series and then the next story starts back at issue one again. I would think that would be more confusing to the casual reader then to just continue on with issue seven. Oh well... As for the story itself, it was both what I was expecting as the pay off and simultaneously a bit of a letdown. Starscream gets his butt kicked which was cool but we know he will survive his damage and come back to scheme another day. In considering the entire six issues, I think there could've been more story although this still wasn't a bad tale overall--at least some stuff happened (unlike back during the Dreamwave days when we could go an entire series and have nothing at all happen!) I liked the human characters, who weren't annoying, and hope they continue to be in the story despite the fans who hate humans. I liked some of the gradual revealing of many of the story aspects as well. The artwork was consistent and fairly good all around. I also don't think the story was anything truly revolutionary but at least it was entertaining... in the future, I hope we get more Transformer and human characterization as well as some unexpected story twists.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Transformers Comic Review...

Transformers: Evolutions #1
Hearts of Steel, part one

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Guido Guidi

(Covers by Guido Guidi)

Synopsis: The story begins with two Transformers fighting on a distant world while their world begins to suffer severe weather. As they fight, native flora and fauna begin to die, going extinct from the cold. Eventually, over time, a group of the mechanoids retreat to the subterranean depths of their world and shut down, awaiting a time when surface conditions improve and they can once again return. Centuries pass then millennia then epochs... finally, one is awaken by a hammering sound far above him. It turns out the Transformer is Bumblebee and he decides to investigate before awakening Optimus Prime and the others. He emerges on the surface to find a forest and realizes they've been there a long time. Below him, he finds men working on a rail track for a locomotive. A large man, John Henry Irons, drives rail spikes into the new metal. Elsewhere, Mark Twain, Jules Verne and a ship's Captain watch the sea looking for something... just then, a man named Mr. Muldoon arrives in a large submersible vessel he calls a "submarine". The men are astonished by Muldoon's invention until it abruptly sinks into the ocean. The wreckage sinks to the ocean's floor and uncovers another mechanoid (possibly Skywarp). Muldoon is on the ship now and says he sunk all his money into his invention--he'll return home broke. Twain tells him Verne is quite taken with his idea--perhaps he will be able to help in some way. Verne looks thoughtful and agrees. Irons and his coworkers eat dinner and discuss life unaware that they are being observed by Bumblebee and others of his kind. They discuss this new creature, man, and his inventions--non-living machines! Bumblebee tells him he believes they've been down there a long time. Prowl says they should go dormant again, await a time until humankind has advanced more technologically. Ratchet says they should allow Optimus to remain offline and Prowl agrees, saying they'll wait another hundred years or so. However, Bumblebee has different ideas and has already moved closer to investigate. He's nearly seen but quickly transforms, becoming a likeness of a locomotive. Irons and his associate are baffled by the fact this locomotive appeared out of nowhere and has no driver's cab. Elsewhere, Muldoon dines with one of his investors and tells him what became of his submarine. He can't even pay for dinner anymore and has to wash dishes for the investor (who owns the hotel they're at). Later on, Muldoon walks among the docks and thinks aloud about what a failure he is. He is confronted by an inanimate voice around him and then Shockwave reveals himself, telling him he is there to reshape the future of Earth.

Comments: The first issue of IDW's new "Elseworlds" style series, written by comic book legend Chuck Dixon. An interesting tale and a good start, I think. I was surprised to see that Cybertron and Earth are one and the same in this story but it was a good twist--this time, the Transformers can't go back to their homeworld--the humans world is their world. I like the bizarre mechanical beast versions of the TFs in this story. Like Beast Wars in a way but more mechanical and sharp--almost like a line of dino knock-off toys. One strike against this tale is the formulaic need to include historical figures to somehow validate the era. Did this tale really need John Henry Irons, Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens or Jules Verne? I think not... we could just as easily have had some generic figures and still have the story work. The art is good as usual, Guidi delivers the goods. I look forward to reading more of this tale and hope it goes some unusual and interesting directions for the duration.

Rating: Recommended.