For those of you who read our review of the first issue of RID, you’ll know that this is the more serious and in-depth of the two current Transformers stories. This tale of intrigue and political machinations based firmly on Cybertron initially lacked the pace of its sister publication and looked to take itself too seriously for some readers. In this second issue the dark tone of the series remains but the pace has, thankfully, very much increased.
Recapping the final actions of the first book – the death of Horri-Bull – this time from the Decepticons' point of view, this story starts to build its momentum in a glorious 2-page spread which is a rogues gallery of tertiary colours and a great way for Andrew Griffith to showcase his designs, iconic and crisp, and a balance of the more detailed styles that have been prevalent in the comics since the big screen movies forced upon us that 'flexible metal skin' just isn’t acceptable these days. The various Constructicons, and Shockwave especially, stand out as hybrids of the old and new styles that work, but it is a style that doesn’t flatter everyone as Starscream's cluttered design will take some getting used to whilst a pivotal moment at the end is almost spoiled by some inexplicably awful character design on what is an iconic fan-loved character that really hasn't survived the transition to IDW very well.
John Barber keeps the intricacies of the story enjoyable, exploring the strain and distrust within the Autobot ranks towards the ‘pacified’ Decepticons, and brings out a side of Bumblebee that we haven’t really seen before, shown in his treatment of Starscream – an interesting role reversal from the days of old - an obvious indication that the pressures of command really do change a man. With this, and the staple internal struggle for power within the Decepticons themselves, one begins to see the depth of the writing within this book and can almost see the countdown to a return to civil war being the biggest enemy here.
Again, this is not a light hearted read. Character banter is minimal and the narration is complicated and twisting, but the slow burning story from last month is definitely beginning to gain momentum. Can the Autobots gain the trust of the Metalhawk and the NAILS, how will the Decepticons respond to Starscream's and Ratbat's power struggle and, as the comic ends in an assassination attempt and another high profile death, how are Barber and Griffith going to top this?
For those who like a more grown up theme to their alien space robots, Robots In Disguise is turning out to be a weighty political thriller with the stage being set for what the Decepticons do best which may not work for the casual fan, but for those looking for a bit of meat in a story, this is a very palatable entrée.
I would really not want to be Bumblebee right now.