Sunday, June 13, 2010

Comic Review...

(Cover "B" by Javier Saltares)

Transformers #8

Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Javier Saltares

(covers by Don Figueroa and Javier Saltares)

Summary: In the humans Skywatch base Spike works out and thinks about how he hates machines. He recalls his life growing up--his time with his dad and time at school. He fights a fellow soldier in a friendly bout and beats him, thinking how his men are trained to fight dirty and efficiently in hand to hand combat (why they need these skills when they're there to fight Transformers is anybody's guess). Spike has a teleconference with his dad, General Allenby and some other General. We learn Allenby is not on-side with Spike's work-with-the-TFs idea and both Spike and Sparkplug are concerned about whether or not they can keep him in-line. Later that night, Spike has had his people track down Scrapper's location. He goes to the location himself, knowing the Skywatch satellite is out of range at that time and proceeds to engage Scrapper. He throws acid at him to get his attention then drops some steel girders on him to trap him (they're in a construction yard). He explains to the helpless Decepticon that this is personal because Devastator helped destroy Tim Simmons and other humans in New York (Simmons was another soldier and friend of Spike's apparently). He shoots Scrapper in the head, destroying the Decepticon's head completely. He thinks how he's had to become like a machine himself mentally and despises that the most about this job as he walks away.

Comments: This story is well constructed in the technical sense. It teaches us about Spike's personality more and functions well as a spotlight of sorts. My problems with it lie elsewhere. After last issue's jump to focus on Megatron, Starscream and the other Decepticons in hiding, did we really need another side story? I would've preferred moving the main story along and maybe having done a Spike solo story later on. Most annoying about this issue is how Spike can take out a "not very smart" engineer Decepticon with little trouble. First off, engineers are generally regarded as among the smartest people in a society so essentially calling Scrapper stupid makes no sense (of course he'll be stupid if you write him that way). And if Rambo/Spike is so smart and tough that he can take out a full sized Decepticon single-handedly then why does he even need the Autobots help? A better story might've involved him getting into this situation, realizing he was in over his head and being helped out at the last minute by the timely arrival of Optimus or somebody. I also didn't like the art much--Saltares art is decent at best but his one frame of Devastator (in flashback) makes him look terrible (I've never seen him look so bad before). This whole issue made me question whether or not I want to keep buying this comic--in the grand scheme they don't seem to be able to keep one artist on the book (which makes it feel amateurish. I didn't care for Figueroa's new style but at least it was consistent. Now we just seem to be randomly cycling through people). As for the writing, I like Costa's attempts at characterization but this whole issue was a bad mis-step and I am very much tired of long chains of comics where nothing really happens (this problem dates back to the Furman era stuff in IDW too. His stuff had more action generally but it seems the consistent rule of thumb with this company is "drag everything out as much as possible so we can put into a trade paperback and sell it again" as opposed to write entertaining and engrossing tales that accomplish something in the bigger sense. I'm not saying every story has to change our very notion of what Transformers is about but even simpler things--like somebody accomplishing something would be nice. Have Starscream do something! Have the Autobots leave Earth! Something, already!

Verdict: Pass.


Transfomers: Ironhide #2 (of 4)
"Iron in the Blood"

Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Casey Coller
(covers by Marcelo Matere and Casey Coller)

Summary: Ironhide investigates the old racing arena on Cybertron. He remembers when he used to work there millennia ago and how a lone Transformer attempted to assassinate Drag Strip (a champion racer at the time). Ironhide stops and arrests him while the other protests that Drag Strip is in league with Megatron (the assassin looks similar to the Technobot Afterburner but I'm not sure if that who he is or there's just a resemblance). Ironhide goes back to the present and is still astonished by the destruction (it seems he has forgotten the Great War, due to his prior battle damage most likely). He is attacked by the Insecticon Swarm then and fights off a couple. He transforms and races off then, hoping against hope to find something--anything--other then desolation and destruction here. He finds a strange robot after that which beckons for him to follow it. He does so reluctantly then follows it to a large, pristine building complex (which is Metroplex).

Comments: In a sharp contrast with the previous comic, I actually liked this one. The art is pretty good and the story is interesting enough (even with the flashbacks, which seem to mostly be there to fill space under the pretense of characterization). I was worried the Swarm would overwhelm the story and it would turn into a Ironhide struggles to survive story--but then it went in an entirely different direction. Also, that character I thought might be Afterburner in the first flashback looks more like Outback in the final one. Who is he? I don't know. Although the art is fairly nice the details for that particular character could be a little bit more distinctive. I also loved the ending with Metroplex--I have high hopes this will go somewhere good (I was wondering what the point of that Metroplex Spotlight was. Actually, I still do since it doesn't really matter much even now). I do hope we get something interesting for the remainder of this mini-series.

Verdict: Recommended.

(Cover "A" by Marcelo Matere)