Neko, one of SEIBERTRON.com's Moderators, was kind enough to treat us all to a sneak peak review of IDW's upcoming Transformers comic that will be released on Free Comic Book Day (May 6th, 2006). Beware ... her review contains many spoilers!
For over 20 years Transformers has captivated our imaginations with toys, a hit TV show plus several spin-offs, and, of course, the comics! It started with Marvel, the torch was then passed to Dreamwave, and now it has landed into the laps of IDW. This May 6th marks the day of the year in which comic lovers everywhere flock to their local haunts to gather up the staple-bound folds of paper we affectionately label as comics. For many Transfans, next Saturday marks IDW's first publications of Transformers comics to be available for the holiday. Roll up your sleeves and pull close to your monitors boys, because SEIBERTRON.com has the scoop on IDW's first Transformers related Free Comic Book Day entry. Loosen up, sit back, and enjoy this exclusive SEIBERTRON.com review.
The first page of the preview starts us off ominously. We see a shadowy figure being consumed by fire and smoke. Lasers add to the inferno as they shoot from the sky like lightening. The figure stands in the midst of the scene; arms raised, fists clenched, optics wide, and mouth gaping. The figure narrates as the blaze continues to consume all. He describes a great battle, long and forgotten, but how the memory is "seared onto"his subconscious. Every so often, the memory surfaces; bring with it fire and the utter white hot intensity of the very memory ... and the pain.
Panel 1 - With the first page still fresh in mind, we are introduced to Jetfire and his team aboard the science/survey vessel Calabi-yua currently orbiting around Cybertron.
Panel 2 - A 'bot named Nosecone informs Jetfire of an energy trace fifty-two kills beneath the planet's surface. Jetfire replies by reminding Nosecone that no energy signature has been detected on Cybertron for the past 700 stellar cycles.
Panel 3 - Jetfire decides to investigate and gives orders for everyone to gather and prepare.
Panel 1 - Jetfire's team gathers in a dark conference room. The only light in the room comes from the hologram projector of which everyone is gathered. Nosecone informs them that the energy trace they detected before came from Energon. But the Energon is different than the function sustaining energy known well by Transformers; this batch is different.
Panel 2 - Nosecone then explains to his skeptic comrades a theory: After Cybertron atmosphere wad disintegrated, comets and other various space derbies began colliding with the unprotected planet. Nosecone suggests that because of this, the Energon went through some sort of reaction, creating a new hybrid Energon.
Panel 3 - Nosecone continues to speak of his theory that the damaged planet is in fact healing itself; undoing what was done.
Panel 1 - Another one of Jetfire's men, Strafe, comments on the danger of them setting foot on the planet and, how vulnerable they are.
Panel 2 - Another member of the team replies to the cowardly Strife that if he preferred, he could stay simply stay with the ship. Strafe refuses, saying he just felt weird stepping onto Cybertron again ... that is was like coming home. He then looks at a device in his hands and tells his friends about the cosmic radiation levels going off the scale and informs them of a charged particle storm coming in from the west. Sparks run across the course of his frame to accent his statement.
Panel 1 - Jetfire and his group continue on foot, while a bot named Lightspeed asks if they are there yet. His yet to be named comrade informs him, "Something like that."Strife then comments on the difficulty of their tread and the fact that gravity appears to be three times lower then normal.
Panel 2 - Jetfire admits he cannot get a visual fix on their location. He then radios Afterburner back in the Calabi-yua now orbiting the planet and asks is he can get a locator pulse. Afterburner replies that the cosmic radiation is interfering with their communicating equipment. He then replies that he does indeed have a lock on the Energon pocket and that he is transmitting the locator pulse. Jetfire, however, does not hear it as the cosmic radiation breaks Afterburner's message up.
Panel 3 - The unnamed Autobot then attracts everyone's attention by stating that their currant position is vaguely familiar to him. SJetfire stammers a nervous thought as he too recognizes their location, "I-Oh ... OH NO! We're back."
"Back where?" Strafe urges.
Jetfire answers his subordinate with an ominous reply.
"Where it all spectacularly, fell apart."
While reading this preview I have to give props to the IDW team for this. The art is fantastic and there is a definite DW influence to the transformers' armor and scenery. One thing you'll notice right away is the lighting during the scene with the holograms. There is a definite DW presence there. I am impressed also by IDW's uncanny ability to express emotion through pose. Looking at Strafe and Jetfire wading through, what I can only describe as ankle deep ash, with obvious difficulty and bodily strain gives me confidence, not only in IDW's physical approach to the Transformers, but their approach to the project as a whole. While the first page does set a very impressing tone for the rest of the preview, the last line given by Jetfire leaves you aching to read the rest of the issue, just to learn where they really are and why Cybertron is in the horrible state we find it in. The only problem I had with this issue was figuring out who was who save for Jetfire. While the others aren't exactly alike, their color schemes and basic blocky looking bodies did have me looking back between panels to make sure I knew who was actually speaking. I do not know for sure whether this was to my own case of mistaken identity due to not ever seeing them before or not, but nevertheless, this preview does start a very anxious wait for the first issue to arrive in July.
Hearts of Steel #1
"It was war."
That three worded sentence pretty much sums up the preview of IDW's Hearts of Steel #1, in laymen's terms.
The first page has a great shock factor to it as we see two Transformers, a green armored Autobot and red armored Decepticon, battling it out on a snow covered waste land. As the red Decepticon looms over the green armored Autobot (who has a striking resemblance to a sharkticon) the green Autobot fire's his laser right into the Decepticon's stomach.
Pages two and three are one whole view of the battle. We see in the top left corner, the green Autobot pushing away the fallen Decepticon into the snow covered ground. In the air, flying transformers, their alt modes vary from huge insects to bony and alien like dinosaurs. Bombs burst in the sky, lighting up the scene. Below, in the chaos, we can pick out some familiar faces. Optimus Prime stands ready next to Bumblebee as they watch on top a snow bank to the mosh-pit like battle below them. In the pit, we cannot make out any familiar faces, but there is a great feel of urgency, desperation, and carnage as we view the battle figures in the pit. In the lower right hand corner we have a very nice head shot of Optimus Prime. His Alt mode is not obvious from the shot, but the alien nature of their armor and such, hints that they are not on earth, at least an earth we are in any way familiar with. As we take a look at the scene in its entirety, we have a profound sense that the combatants will not stop till absolute victory is achieved.
The preview ends with this sentence: "There would be no peace without victory."
I have only one real complaint. The preview for this comic is too short. It's long enough to get the point across, but not enough to really get a good feel for the comic and what we can really expect from it. That said, Kudos to IDW for the awesome looking alt modes. We are not seeing anything industrial age related yet, keep in mind. These new alt modes are so different than anything I've ever come across in IDW, Dreamwave, or even Marvel. The color schemes say a lot for the comic as well. The colors are low toned and opaque, giving a feeling that if it was film, you'd be viewing it in slow motion. The colors give the sense of how bleak the situation is. Also, as you read, you feel as though this scene has played out many times before.
Now I must talk about Prime's head shot. I never thought I'd be fawning over any head shot, but this one deserves some sort of award. I love the character design! His face plate is bolted to his face with several small bolts, his optics are huge and yellow in color, he has horns on each side of his head, and a strange protruding object from his chin making him look as though he may be growing a metallic beard. Mind you, it looks nothing like Alpha Trion's beard. It looks more like a small replica of the front of a steam engine. Now I must talk art. It may be a combination of the colors and alien like alt modes, but the art style vaguely reminds me of the aliens seen in the original Marvel Transformer comics. I can't specify an issue, these are just my impressions. So ends my review of IDW's Hearts of Steel Preview. This preview and the preview for Stormbringer will be available May 6th as part of Free Comic Book Day. Mark it on your calendars, because this is one comic you really want to pick up.