Transformers #1 (SPOILERS) - IDW - Comic Book

Despite misgivings about this issue, generated by IDW’s copious amounts of preview material, there was a certain amount of excitement finally getting a look at the full comic, the most hyped Transformer comic in recent memory. That excitement carried through the first few pages (not included in the previews), showcasing the better parts of Artist Don Figuroa’s new TF style and accompanied by classic Optimus Prime narration, crafted by Ongoing’s author Mike Costa. Then, the page turns to the material we’ve seen, and memory of this comic’s many clichés and faux pas returns.

For those who have read the previews, you may be interested to know you have seen pages 4-11 and 21-23 and have read neither the first or last pages. There are further revelations to be had, so if you feel like you’ve read the whole book you haven’t.

This latest tub of IDW Brand: “I can’t believe it’s not a Reboot!” tries to cover new ground, but mostly travels familiar Transformers plot set ups via new, and unwieldy conveyance. That’s not to say there is nothing you haven’t seen in a TF comic here (at least on this scale). Costa delves straight in to franchise premise defeating territory where previous writers have feared to tread.

Those of you who read the initial 3 page Spoilerama that IDW released to promote this issue will know that Ironhide is killed, by humans no less. Meant to be a dramatic blow, this to most fans will be like getting poked with a stick. Mildly unpleasant and begging the question “Why would you do that?”.

It lacks any real punch though, because I doubt any one believes in a comic series’ ability to keep a 25 year old central character dead. At this point killing any top shelf character is merely regarded as set up for their resurrection even if the current staff has no intention of doing so, the next one is unlikely to be so reticent. This gratuitous first issue casualty is unlikely to accomplish anything except annoying fans, especially Ironhide fans, (an ornery bunch, let me tell you).

Like so much of Transformer fiction, and all of sci-fi, this new series has, for the time being, shackled it self to Earth. Not that this is an uncommon place for fiction to take place, but in an vast and open Transformers universe in a medium where effects costs are not an issue, it’s very limiting. The human forces portrayed, stretch suspension of disbelief unnecessarily and have upgraded them selves from once having merely distracted from the giant robots to out right upstaging them.

Some of you may remember, this reviewers distaste for Transformer damaging human hand weapons, not only are those present in spades, IDW has stumbled upon the only thing worse. Human driven anti-Transformer mechs. This ridiculous Skywatch gear is stated to be uncommon and expensive, but that doesn’t stop them from busting out at least 5 of the Transformer sized bots in this book.

Prowl fans pay attention here. Prowl is captured, breaking his cover, against orders, to save a Decepticon, falling into a trap laid for him, by Spike. To top off this cacophony of out of character behavior, He’s shot by a police officer, once with a hand weapon and disabled.

We’ve come full circle from Awesome All Hail Megatron #15 Prowl and arrived back at Sunbow Prowl.

So if Transformers can be disabled by CHiPs, what exactly are the Autobots still hanging around for? There must be a dozen good reasons to leave. Costa tries to absolve his story of these problems by having Hot Rod list most of them for us. The only ostensible reason common sense does not prevail is that Optimus is having emotional problems.

Apparently he’s just too attached to this planet that prior to this extended angst ridden visit, he had only been to twice, briefly, that now is probably the most Decepticon safe place in the galaxy, and where he and his forces are being hunted for sport. It all makes sense now!

To my knowledge there are a great deal of comic books set on our planet, many produced by IDW, do we really have to spend so much time here? The human glazed Mcguffin has truly gotten too big for its britches.

So distraught is Prime by the demise of his old friend he leads his beleaguered forces away from the now safe Earth to pursue his defeated foes and secure the hard won peace ushering in a new golden age for… Oh wait, No.

He Quits.

Leaves his troops leaderless on a hostile planet, with little more than Ironhide’s entrails to guide them. Oh, yeah, that’s just Prime. EMO-ptimus.

There is no issue with the quality of Transformes #1’s art. Don Figuroa’s talent for robots is beyond reproach, and his humans have really improved over the last decade or so. However the character designs leave something to be desired, the human “equipment” is bland, and the Transformer faces are so hideous it made me want to put the book down.

I’m not sure what’s supposed to be cool about looking like emaciated corpses, but the only time Ironhide looks right is when he’s on a slab, and only then if you imagine they left him in the sun for a week. We can only hope wiser heads, or at least more attractive faces, prevail.

It deserves to be mentioned that the issue opens with a great two page battle spread, and there is one panel of Prowl carrying Ironhide’s body that I found to be the only compelling part of the death. (On the other hand it is a wide shot from behind, sparing us the face.)

All and all, this is one fans are going to have to call for themselves. New fans might not care about the out of character behavior, melodrama, and premise problems. However comic and/or Transformer veterans are likely to experience cramps from rolling their eyes repeatedly.

IDW Transformer titles have a history of being better in Trade Paperback. All Hail Megatron suffered greatly from it’s artificial and groan inducing divisions, but as a whole came together just fine. We can hope that over time this series will pick up, but if this is what we can expect from the future, “Ongoing” seems like a threat.

DateNovember 17th 2009  
Score 6 stars (6 out of 10)  

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