Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Transformers IDW Collections

I began to wonder if I might’ve been a bit harsh in my review for Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I mean, really, was I expecting high art? Also coloring my expectations were last week I caught up a bit on my reading backlog and read through the IDW Transformers Collections 1-4. If you’re not aware, these collections are a hardbound set containing  just over a dozen issues each of IDW’s Transformers comic series in a ‘suggested reading order’. They weren’t published in this order and aren’t necessarily in chronological order either, several issues exist outside any apparent timeline and can happen pretty much at any time.

The collections contain several multi-issue miniseries and several ‘spotlight’ one-shot issues that center on one particular character, yet often fill in gaps in the larger story told by the miniseries. The ongoing story covers from the beginning of the war with Megatron: Origins to the reason Earth is so important with Spotlight: Shockwave, showing the complete and total devastation brought to Cybertron in Stormbringer to finally defeating an ancient threat from the very first Ark. I think part of the reason I was so disappointed in the movie is because these stories were so good.

Not to say that every issue was spectacular though, Maximum Dinobots was sadly subpar, as was the finale, which while tying up most loose ends, was told through several splotlight issues that didn’t really spotlight the main character. I got the sense another miniseries was planed and canceled, and they had to shoehorn the dangling plot threats into already approved spotlight issues.

By being able to completely reboot the entire myology IDW is able to reinvent several characters. Cliffjumper (also known as ‘the red Bumblebee’) is a BAMF, Arcee is a psycho bitch from hell with some serious ‘daddy issues’ and Ultra Magnus, best known for leading to the Autobots for 20 minutes on the animated movie before dying from utter stupidity, is perhaps the most badass Autobot in the whole series (with Arcee just behind).

You also get the sense that this a very large universe. Plots are centered on Earth maybe only half the time. The Earth-bound Transformers initially consist of Starscream and Prowl each leading a team of approximately six. Optimus and Megatron are initially busy elsewhere, Earth just isn’t that important and it’s a big universe. The Wreckers (elite team of Autobot asskickers) appear in several issues, each time on a different planet. There are other alien races out there. Bars that look like a Star Wars cantina. Even multiple penal colonies indicating large populations, with a underclass that need to be locked up.

Overall though an excellent series and I eagerly await volume 5 coming out, I believe, in November.

A few notes:

  • Several characters seem entirely to powerful: Megatron, Sixshot and Shockwave are nigh invulnerable
  • Contrary to standard portrayal, Perceptor isn’t the Autobot’s main scientist, nor is Ratchet or Wheeljack. Jetfire is the go-to man for any techno-babble
  • Tiny little Wheelie, universally despised Wheelie, doing his part for the war effort by running ammunition to ungrateful frontline warriors nearly brought a tear to my eye
  • Two words: Autobot ninja
  • Headmasters made cool!
  • Ok not really cool, but they’re not stupid
  • Dinobots seem sadly out of character and underpowered
  • Gestalt technology does not exist (or does it?), but several are shown as existing teams: Predacons, Technnots, Combaticons, Terrorcons
  • Sixshot is portrayed as essentially the 2nd most baddass warrior in the entire galaxy (the first being a plot device character), yet even he can stopped by being stepped on in Spotlight: Metroplex

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