I, shamefully, was disappointed that this issue did not continue the Shockwave story that we were introduced to in the last issue of RID, but instead went on to continue where the story left off in RID ONGOING #16. Starscream had rejected all group affiliation badges, and was forcing Cybertronians who would not give up their previous allegiances to leave and go out to the wild of Cybertron making the city a place without war and factions.
This issue picks up a few minutes before the moment of exodus presented at the end of RID 16, when choices are still being made as to who wants to leave Iacon and who wants to go in the Autobot group. Bumblebee’s injuries from the huge battle are brought to the forefront, and as those who will not take off their Autobot badges (or Decepticon insignias) leave the city under guarded watch (seems a little hypocritical, no?) and start to travel to a new location, Bee’s injuries worsen...
Since the action all happened the last few issues, we see more of the ramifications of the Decepticon sack of Iacon amongst the jettisoned Autobot wagon train.
As the preview pages showed us, many Autobots are trying to figure out where and how they belong now, and what they are about. Prowl, Arcee, and Bumblebee seem to be the main focus because there are trust and or confidence issues in these three from most of the rest of the Autobot group, each of them having played some major part in the previous chaos and ultimately led to this unfortunate situation.
Of note in the story: We have Arcee trying to find out how to be an Autobot, and trying to fit in with a group that she clearly stands out from not only in appearance, but also because of her insane experience on Gorlam Prime with Jhiaxus, and as Jhiaxus’ experiment before that. Barber works hard to get across that Arcee is really struggling with being part of a group, and understanding the ‘sane’ real world and the social dynamics involved.
Prowl is dealing with being left out of the group--the group he is used to being in the inner circle of, the organizer of, and sometimes defacto leader of. Somewhat coerced into isolation by the rest of the Autobots in the camp because of an admission by Arcee about Prowl’s involvement with Ratbat’s death pre-cerebro shell, Prowl has seen his acceptance back in due to ‘Decepticon mind control excuse’ be cut short by Arcee’s inability to the tenuous relationship and acception. No doubt in his isolation Prowl is calculating how to regain acceptance, and yet coming to terms with all that he has experienced. As he tries to shed the previous horrors, there are those amongst the Autobots who are constant reminders of what happened, and his involvement.
Bumblebee failed to keep the peace in Iacon, and to lead the Autobots to victory. And in that failure he has lost the Autobots’ faith in him as a leader. They still need him and want him around, but as a leader they see him as incapable, it seems. While Bumblebee’s external injuries seem to be causing him the most discomfort at this time, it’s his inner angst and acceptance of his errors as a leader that has been most problematic. The external injuries catch up with the inner turmoil, and Bee takes a very bad turn for the worse.
I felt very uncomfortable at times reading this story. For example, it’s really hard to believe that the Autobots can easily accept the group in their midst that just basically destroyed Iacon, and the community that they had worked to establish--and by ‘the group’ I’m not talking about Arcee, Prowl, and Bumblebee--. In fact, the Autobots have made it a point to be very leery of Prowl and Arcee, but openly SEEM to accept their collaborators-- Decepticons--Decepticons who have killed or seriously wounded their Autobot comrades. Even the Dinobots are ready to just forgive and forget over energon shots. Really? I know Ironhide states he doesn’t trust them, I just hope it doesn’t turn into the Constructicons being repainted white and red. While I do believe the feelings toward Arcee and Prowl are warranted, and that the Autobots will be cautious with the Constructicons around, it seems odd. Sure the Bots can be compassionate, and maybe Ironhide is trying to avoid having ‘the craziness’ happen to the Constructicons and then they pull a Superion at night and beat on the Autobots. Maybe it’s a feeling of it’s better to know where they are and what they are doing rather than not know. And the Constructicons do seem to be being rather amicable with the Autobots, but it seems like a weird move right now. The Autobots are also suffering a casualty of command structure which can lead to poor decision making too. Such craziness.
There are a few more surprises left as the last two pages connect to events in RID #17. The Autobots will have to quickly pull back together some kind of order of command to face this newest occurence, but the issue as a whole, while promising, is a bit hard to read. The art is eye-catching, but in a distracting manner. It’s blocky, and simple, and shows a lot of human like emotion in expressions, but the images seem a step down from the level we are used to in RID. I love reading Transformers fiction, and I surely did find some enjoyment in this issue as characters’ personalities grew, but the crafting of the growth felt awkward. Clearly, I am no writer though, so I trust that the writers who get paid, know what they are doing. I did love the realization about Superion (I didn’t have it until that moment in this issue, and it is certainly a cool new Transformers story point about gestalts!).
All in all, a somewhat slow-it-down-issue, which was to be expected. It has a few surprises, but not many WOW moments this time. I'm hard on this book because I feel like it hasn't quite caught on as MTMTE has with its blend of story and art, but RID has potential, and continues to surprise at times in with some cool and unpredictable plot points. It's still enjoyable as a Transformers series even if it has to live under it's more popular sibling's shadow.
RID ONGOING #18 hits comic book retailers on Wednesday.