The GeeksverseTransformers: Second Issue Edition

Transformers: Second Issue Edition
Published on Thursday, February 23, 2012 by

Transformers #2’s are making both of them IDW’s #1 must read books.

War; war never changes, until now. It’s ended. The Cybertronian Civil War has now come to and end some 4 million years after it first started.

I was worried, I’ll admit it. When I found out that after 30 issues into the ongoing IDW series was finishing the war between the Decepticons and Autobots shutting it down to launch two separate books and I didn’t know how well it would go over. In all the years that Hasbro’s flagship property has been around there has always been one constant: war.

G1, G2, Beast era, RID, Unicron Trilogy, and the current Prime series have all centered around two groups of Cybertronians battling each other for domination of the planet/universe/cosmos. So to have that premise suddenly stopped and the property going in a new direction I was concerned as to how well the Robots in disguise would hold up.

Two issues into both books and I’m happy to say that my concerns were unfounded. IDW has not only refreshed the property that is Generation1 but it has now allowed itself to begin new possibilities and stories within the universe of the first generation. With the departure of Optimus and the disappearance of Megatron IDW has now opened the door to let the light shine on other robots that have at best been given light storylines and character development.

Now that I have spoken my piece on that subject, it is now on to the reviews. First up:

More Than Meets the Eye #2: Let me get the negative part out of the way first. I do not like the artwork in this book. To similar to the look of the Animated television show, which was okay for a new part of the property but for a G1 book proper it just looks out of place and doesn’t work with the story that MTMTE looks to be.

Rodimus and his merry band of ne’er do well team’s search for that which he thinks will help reunite all Cybertronians has not gotten off to a great start and seems to be going downhill fast. This issue is all about character defining and plot setting. We get to learn a little about Cyclonus’ personality and setting up a possible plot point down the line with him. We learn a little more about tailgate, the long abandoned Cybertronian, he was a contemporary of the late Nova Prime so he’s several million years old, but what role he will play in the upcoming adventures is still a mystery to me. Rodimus has been showing himself as a capable leader and the bits of humor mixed with adventure works well in this book.

One thing that is very much appreciated is the listing of characters within the book in the back. Transformers have one of the densest rosters of characters ever and to get a quick synopsis of them to remind the reader who they are will definitely come in handy.

All in all, this issue does very well in establishing the players. There is a very funny moment with Ratchet and a psychologist patient he is patching up. I won’t spoil it for you but the characterizing of Ratchet in that scene is just lovely. James Roberts’s view of Ratchet seems to be that he’s a mechanical Deforest Kelley from Star Trek and I have to say; it works.

After James’ stellar work in the “Last Stand of the Wreckers” mini-series I had high expectations for this book and he has exceeded my expectations. If he keeps this up he may very well be the Simon Furman of the IDW years of Transformers. IDW needs to do whatever they can to keep him on; it can only work out for the best.

I just hope the art follows suit shortly because it’s not distracting but it is keeping the book from being a great title and that’s sad because the story deserves artwork on par with it. The only other thing that should change is that this book should be called Robots in Disguise, but I’ll go into further explanation I the Robots in Disguise review below.

Robots in Disguise #2: Phenomenal. I can’t put it in any simpler terms; this book is the Transformer book I have wanted to read for years. Having written the “Dark of the Moon” series, this is John Barber’s first time writing in the Generation 1 property and he’s a welcome addition. Two issues in and I’m hooked, focusing not just on action but turning this into a nice political story of the rebuilding of Cybertron, John has shown different facets of a few of the more well known characters and has shown that he is not afraid to do some drastic things with well established characters. No one is safe in the new Cybertron and everyone can be in danger.

It’s nice to see characters I have read for years suddenly doing things that should make a long time fan uncomfortable with is fantastic. These characters are in a new situation and their actions are as different as the story itself has become.

Two issues in and we have seen subversive plotting and planning by Rat Bat and Skywarp. We have seen Prowl, Bumblebee, Starscream, and Arcee all acting almost out of character. We have seen how far Bumblebee is willing to go in order to reestablish a unified Cybertron. We’ve seen how far Prowl will go and how deep into the shadows he will enter in order to ensure that Bumblebee’s plans come to pass. In these two issues Prowl looks to be one of the breakout characters to watch. His actions both public and private are showing himself to be a political powerhouse of the Machiavellian kind. In this issue, Starscream steps forward and shines in what I can only hope will mean to make him the foil of Prowl’s machination. Starscream’s character is well suited for the political nature of this book, but Prowl stands out further simply because I never thought of him as a politician of the first order. However, I should have. He’s the brilliant strategist and that is coming to bear in the pages of this book. Dear god, I’m actually starting to like the guy. Everyone is not as they seem.

And that’s my one complaint with these two titles; their subheadings of these two books are wrong. The heavy political focus concerning Bumblebee’s attempts at rebuilding Cybertron and showing the actions of several of key players of both factions maneuvering to suit their own ends lends itself better to the double meaning that More Than Meets the Eye could stand for. Everyone in this title is now more than meets the eye.

However, it’s a minor issue and doesn’t detract from the quality within the pages themselves. If you haven’t been reading IDW’s wonderful run on this elder Hasbro property, you need to.

At the end of the day, the Transformers have been a property defined by war; every character is profiled in terms of the war. James Roberts and John Barber were aware of this and have used that as their blast off point to now go about redefining these timeless characters in two different situations. Are they being successful? Too soon to tell but I do like what I am seeing. So far, the changes I’ve seen in Bumblebee, Prowl, Starscream, and Rodimus have been well handled to where they aren’t completely different but the subtle changes are there.

Time will define the success of this, but I think that this will go down as a watershed moment for the property. The moment when a comic book company pushed the boundaries of a long lived property and did with gusto and no regrets. Say what you will, I am eagerly waiting for three weeks to pass so I can read issue #3.

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