This is a quiet week for Transformers comics, in terms of new IDW Publishing output. Here at Seibertron.com, however, we wanted to make sure to give you the full sequential art coverage, and, before issue 1 actually hits stores next month, we went back to review the Free Comic Book Day Issue #0 of the new Transformers vs G.I. Joe ongoing!
“Some missions are so secret, so sensitive, so serious that as far as America’s concerned--they never occurred. The agents sent on these classified missions are code-named Seibertron Comics Staff."---INITIATE REVIEW(ish) THING
As the saying goes, ‘these are not your father’s ________________’ -fill in the blank with whatever pop culture item, sports team, or ‘other’ that might be relevant at the time’ In this case, it’s ‘GI JOE VS. TRANSFORMERS’.
Tigertrack - TF VS. G.I. JOE or JOES VS TF (whichever is your slant) have had several incarnations over the years that have seen print, and even a few more that have not.
Va'al - (It's technically Transformers vs G.I. Joe
TT - Fine fine.
While not really moving either of the franchise’s further ahead in their respective universes these crossovers have proven to be fun elseworld stories, generally ‘what if’ type situations, that have left both franchise followers feeling less than satisfied asking several questions, including: why do they continue to do this?
The newest comic crossover between these two siblings may perhaps come closest to creating the feeling I had when I would play with and display my GI JOE and Transformers toys together when I was a child, and represents perhaps a very real portrayal of what I might have been thinking the story might have been like. I’m not quite sure if that is meant to be a compliment or not.
Not pictured: Tigertrack
V - See, I think that was my problem with this comic: I have never really been any part of anything that had something to do with G.I. Joe, despite the two franchises being so close through the years. It made it harder for me to assess what Tom Scioli and John Barber were trying to do plot, story and context-wise.STORY
The FREE COMIC BOOK DAY ‘prequel’ sets up the future ongoing. One part Transformers to three parts GI JOE, this comic is more of a Joe-centric story than a TF story. The beginning of the book introduces Bumblebee and Starscream, and how they seemingly get themselves sprinkled into the middle of the final results of another COBRA threat that GI JOE is working bravely to thwart. But don’t let that fool you. The COBRA and GI JOE action is the main part, and Starscream and Bumblebee are only minor pieces of the pages they are in, seemingly unimportant to the actual threat of the creeper bombs that COBRA is about to unleash.
V - And here I felt that it was more of an introduction to G.I. Joe for readers like me, who have very little clue about the franchise. So while I'd agree it's more G.I. Joe in content, I'd say it's trying to appeal to regular Transformers readers - so it needs to say very little about our favourite transforming robots. The issue introduces many GI JOE and COBRA characters, using almost infodump-y tiny file cards as a means to share names and specialties. And jokes. And plot points. So many cards.
TT - I like your point about it being an introduction to joe for TF fans, I often felt it was the transformers that drove (hah!) the stories and GI joe was there to get a boost or feed off TF popularity.
The story itself seems to take place before many of the characters are quite who we knew/know them to be yet. Duke is a ‘rookie’ who is constantly hitting on Scarlett ala Ripcord from THE RISE OF COBRA. Scarlett is possessed with taking down the COBRA COMMANDER. Snake Eyes is not yet mute or mutilated, he’s actually a very vocal, veteran leader. Other Joes from different parts of joe history show up like Doc, Roadblock, Wild Bill, Ace, and Bazooka.ART
V - Now, the artwork. Tom Scioli is doing everything, from layouts to pencils to inks to colours, and is explicitly referencing a Kirby-esque Silver Age (debated term, but let's use it anyway) style of art. The facial expressions, the dots, the shadowing, the dots, the backgrounds - all the elements are there, undoubtedly.
Does it always convince? No, not really. But I enjoyed it nonetheless, in a strange way of recognising its amibition and completely bonkers scope. The execution will divide a lot of opinions (and indeed already has) but there is no doubt in claiming that Scioli knows Kirby's work, and is a good sequential storyteller. Whether the style is what the two fandoms wanted is an entirely different conversation.
I believe my position of not really being that tied to either franchise in its early incarnations allows me to see this with a fresher perspective, and doesn't hit the 'childhood memories' of either. In fact, it captures the silliness of both series looking back on them now, in a fashion!THOUGHTS
TT - The issue has some slapstick banter, hard core fighting, and a somewhat sweet payoff full page shot. Even more so there is the final page payoff, in which --
V - That thing happens, with those characters saying those things to each other.
Is it a must? Not sure. Is it fun? For me, it was: I found it amusing, ambitiously out there, with some interesting plotting and planning, some intriguing if not always convincing artwork (but impressive, as it's all Scioli's work, from start to finish). It's still free around the internet somewhere
, so I'd give it a look if you can!
Have some Lichtenstein, too
TT - I suppose this series will replicate that previous formula of the Joes being the established Earthians to contact/conflict with the Transformer aliens and cobra looks to use the bots for their benefit somehow teaming with the cons and then double-crossing them. I'm not expecting much surprise-wise.
I still very much dislike the art. I think I know what is being attempted, I just find it pretty disappointing for the most part so far. The SDCC covers are very bothersome. But I will still work to support this and enjoy it, so maybe someday we can get the ultimate crossover.
We'll see what the actual first issue brings - but until then, GOOOO FORMERS!----END REVIEW(ish) THING