Spoiler Warning! The contents of this review may, and likely will, spoil significant parts of this book, and possibly others in the IDW Transformers meta-series. "Trade paperback only" readers should wander away now! This is your one and only warning.
Synopsis and Credits
ALL HAIL OPTIMUS part 4! It's all-out war as OPTIMUS PRIME's forces move on GALVATRON's DECEPTICONS—with Earth caught in the middle! Unusual alliances have formed… and secrets will be revealed.
The story of All Hail Optimus continues with this week's release of The Transformers #53 from IDW Publishing, otherwise known as the book just about every Transformers fan is still calling Robots in Disguise. We join our heroes, I guess, back on Earth where they just did a thing and got attacked by humans and Prime lost an arm or something. Oh, and then he blackmailed some peace seeking Decepticons into joining what amounts to an Optimus Prime led invasion force using some wicked, cunning, downright messed up appeal to Soundwave's more logical side. That part of issue number 52 last month was really good, so I was excited to dive into this next chapter.
Still a fascinating pivot.
The story of Optimus Prime's descent to the dark side of The Force has been really fascinating to witness. While I still foresee some shenanigans on the horizon with a certain police car, if I go with the benefit of the doubt and Prime's head isn't being messed with (this book hasn't earned this benefit over the years, but I'm feeling generous) the subtlety of the character work has been pulled off pretty brilliantly. The normally consistent Optimus has become quite unpredictable, with each new move feeling more desperate even if the end goal is probably as ambiguously defined to this character as it is to readers.
A far less interesting pivot.
On the other hand, we have the leader of our "bad guys" for this arc in Galvatron. Galvatron has been a character in IDW that has been all over the place literally and figuratively. Right now, he feels about as inconsistent as ever. The wise, cunning, eugenics-endorsing guardian of Primus' will (albeit a possibly twisted version of it) has, for reasons I honestly cannot figure out, become an "80's Cartoon Supervillain" to borrow the words of your regular comics reviewer, Dr. Va'al.
Galvatron has gone from Beast Machines Megatron mixed with Armada Galvatron, with the full on David Kaye voice accompaniment, to the bizarre, shrill voiced G1 Season 3 version of the character with a higher pitched Frank Welker madman voice. It's been a quick pivot that is hard to follow and it's been one of the most disappointing aspects of this arc thus far. Sometimes there are shades of it all being a ruse, like during the excellent fight scene with Arcee earlier in the arc, but trust me when I say that really goes out the window in this chapter. See: Cobra Commander Level Cheesy Plan.
Please, make it end.
This book is in dire need of a bad guy with motivation, and he's standing right there making me want to punch him in the face. Just by standing there. I legitimately dislike this character. I read every issue of The Transformers rooting for him to die in the worst way possible. That has little to do with this exact issue of the book, but the fact that he's in there taking up space while the plot wanders in odd directions around him reeks of either poor planning or plans changed by someone in an office in Rhode Island.
Seeds of intrigue, perhaps?
There definitely is some planning going on, with characters that we know will be front and center in the Titans Return toyline (and presumably, story arc) getting some choice moments in this issue as well. Barber manages to get these characters in through smart, unobtrusive methods that a non-toy collector reader won't be caught off guard by. Yes, Mindwipe is around and yes, he's getting a toy soon but were he not, I don't think I'd read the book any differently.
While the majority of the Synergon™ is strong in this book, there are some moments towards the end (including the last page) that warrant mention, though I'll stop short of spoiling them. I'll just mention that I was interested in getting some official canon to go behind some more recent Transformers toy releases, this looked like it was going to deliver, but I ended up with disappointment instead.
Stay tuned next time for more Wacky Races!
Just like some members of Optimus' crew, this book alternates between serious and cartoonish, dramatic and funny, and even has a plot that advances forwards and backwards. I honestly can't say that the plot of this arc feels like it's moved forward much at all, and it's really falling victim to the trade paperback format pitfalls that IDW had previously done a tremendous job at avoiding. The glacial pace of progress continues to be just that for this part of the larger story, whether that feeling is intentional or not.
The art is handled in this issue by Priscilla Tramontano with colors by Josh Burcham and letters by series regular Tom B. Long, and it's definitely a highlight of this issue.
Maybe they just want to report about your silver arm?
From wisely used effects like those found in this panel, to purposeful stylistic differences in the pencils/inks based on the environment in which the action takes place (more on this shortly), the book has a style that is sure to please a majority of Transformers fans. It alternates between serious detail and cartoon-like sketchiness freely, and in some cases you may not even notice the jumps.
There was one case where I was first jarred by the changing depiction of certain characters from panel to panel, and that was with the Combiner characters once they go underwater. Initially, I thought this was just a product of deadlines being a thing that exists, with art that just had to get done at some point, and I was disappointed. Later, I thought this may have been a stylistic choice meant to evoke the original Transformers cartoon series. Upon investigating that train of thought further, I noticed that all of the details in the underwater scenes are more "cartoon-like", for better or worse. At least it's consistent with this, even if I'd prefer some more detail. It seems to fit with the back and forth tonal nature of this issue as well, so that's another thing going for it.
One great, moody page
Burcham's colors lend more to the tone of the story than perhaps the words themselves in this issue, with multiple instances where he takes what could be more instances of inconsistency and makes them a harmonious, fun to look at product. Between work here and on Sins of the Wreckers, comics fans continue to get a look at a colorist at the top of his game.
While the plot's overall direction and progress disappointed me, with this issue ending at a point of rising action just like the last countless many issues of this series, the art and many of the character beats pick this issue up from a potentially boring place.
Why not Zoidberg Tidal Whale?
That said, this book needs to resolve some plot threads soon, and find a more consistent voice. Solicits make me think it's going somewhere at long last, but I've been fooled by those plenty of times before. The more cartoon-styled look is not on accident, as the story reads like a Saturday morning show in many parts as well. I don't mind that, and it's a ton of fun, but what happens when this book wants me to take it seriously again? There are points within this issue where that seems to be the case, but it's a difficult, almost jarring shift in mood. That's probably intentional, and while I appreciate the inherent goofy side of Transformers and like the fun ways this issue uses that side, this feels like a weird place in an arc that was almost all serious business up to this point for that to come into the picture.
I'm conflicted by this issue, as there are parts I love and parts my eyes will just wander over when I pick up my physical copy this afternoon. I'll give this two different ones since different readers will likely find very different levels of appreciation of The Transformers #53
For readers looking for drama and serious plot advancement:
. and 1/2 - out of
For readers that like a fun tone interspersed with a looser overall plot:
Thanks to fellow staff member Dr. Va'al we have received word that with Transformers: The Last Knight now set to be the 5th live action film's title, Trademarking the name has begun. The newest Trademark to be filed by Hasbro is for a Video Game under the name Transformers: Last Knight (trademarks exclude the word "the"). What this means is that should the trademark be accepted, we can expect a Last Knight video game to be coming out sometime in the near future. Check out the actual trademark application below.
Trademark Source: USPTO
Mark (in words): TRANSFORMERS LAST KNIGHT
Serial Number: 87043216
Filing Date: Thursday, 19th of May 2016
Status: New application will be assigned to an examining attorney approximately 3 months after filing date.
Status Date: Monday, 23rd of May 2016
Registration Date: Wednesday, 30th of November -0001
Prior Reg Numbers:
Current Location: NEW APPLICATION PROCESSING
Date In Location: Monday, 23rd of May 2016
Class Status: ACTIVE
Category: Interactive entertainment software, namely, computer game software, computer game cartridges, computer game discs; interactive multimedia computer game programs; downloadable game software for use in connection with computers, communication devices and mobile telephones; pre-recorded laser and video disc featuring an animated cartoon series
THE DYING OF THE LIGHT part 4! Twilight’s last gleaming! The end is nigh. No chance of escape. No last-minute reprieve. But nothing loosens the tongue like imminent death, and the crew of the Lost Light use their final hours to say what—until now—was unsayable.
Geddit? lights dying?
The Light keeps dying, slowly, inexorably, irreparably, and we are witnesses to the events as they unfold, as James Roberts allows them to, and we are left without choice (other than not to read the story, of course) - in a manner very similar to the characters in this issue, faced with choices, the illusion of such, and a lot of emotions.
Average MTMTE reader
And with a lot of emotions, come a lot of storylines: we have Nightbeat's intrigue with the hollow planet, and his co-opting of Rung, we have whatever Minimus Ambus and Brainstorm are doing, we have Ratchet and Velocity, Nautica and her group, Chromedome recovering, Megatron being repaired, the DJD just waiting, Whirl and Cyclonus. I could go on.
New mystery; where are Rung's glasses?
Don't get me wrong, though, there are some stellar character moments for pretty much all of the cast members in the book. And it also manages to deal quite nicely, and deeply (and on multiple fronts) with big themes such as addiction, the overwhelming fears running through the whole cast of the issue, friendship and love, and the pain that the latter two can bring as side effects.
Not pictured: your gut
There's ..a lot in here. And not all of it necessarily meshes that well together. We see it in the opening preview, with Nautica's otherwise very touching moment as she sees the end coming - a moment which feels too short taken within the frame of the whole issue, and that is a real shame. But more below.
Alex Milne is the main artist on the book, though the Whirl/Cyclonus sequence is actually the talented hands of Hayato Sakamoto, and it shows. Not just the parallels, but the issues that come across in the script in terms of pacing are visually redeemed (for me at least) by punching the 'meanwhile' technique is a truly spectacular way. And one panel, that one panel, THAT PANEL, is almost painful.
Not showing it of course
Joana Lafuente's gradual transition in colour palettes, from the arrival on the beautifully lit Necroworld to now
Tom B. Long takes the letters and makes sure we know exactly where to look, what to hear, and how loudly (or softly). In a text that so much unsaid finally spoken, the indication is needed, welcome, and part of the emotional package. The covers, on the other hand, do very little to hint at anything happening inside this book, though great they are! Priscilla Tramontano brings a much happier Swerve memory (thumbnail), as Josh Burcham and Sakamoto show off the threat that awaits, and Milne and Josh Perez look at that thread from our side of the fence.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
Reader, I cried. Much like the issue in this series that provided the template for the culprit image, I felt the same build up on the page, in the characters, and inside my emotional chamber, as I was led to the resolution of that particular arc. It doesn't end there, of course, but if I have to talk about one moment, that is the one that stuck. The art, as I said above, is mostly to blame.
There are, I repeat here, some severe pacing issues, trying to fit in a number of personal narratives that just do not survive the composition, either coming across as rushed, disjointed or even shoehorned in - which the visuals do wonders with. It's a collection of character moments, beautiful, each unique in their own way, and well-done taken separately. But we need the climax. It is time.
Our latest Seibertron.com galleries come from the Transformers: Robots in Disguise series, and its One-Step simplified sub-line, making us reach the second milestone in such a short time frame - over 400.000 images uploaded!
The galleries, which you can access below by clicking on any of the images, feature Decepticons Springload, Quillfire, but also Patrol Mode Strongarm, Gold Armor Grimlock, Bumblebee and Sidewsipe. Check them out!
Fellow Seibertronians, courtesy of fellow user Starsaber468, we get a nice look at the upcoming Leader class Blaster figure along with the Legends class figures Rewind and Wheelie in the form of video reviews. While Blaster's is in Chinese, it offers a fairly comprehensive look at the various features. The other two are in English. Check them out and let us know what you think of them in the comments below.
Thanks to the Collectors Club itself, we have word that the final Figure Subscription Service has been extended until this Friday at 11pm. We have mirrored the message below for all to read. As you may remember, we have mentioned before that the Subscription is open to all previous members, so if you are included in that list, order up!
The Transformers Figure Subscription Service (TFSS) 5.0 order period has been extended until Friday at 11PM central time.
You can order your TFSS 5.0 until then. Please note, there is no limit on the number of subscriptions you can purchase as the TFSS is built to order.
You can either pay in full or by installment. Also, everyone that completes the full TFSS will also receive a BONUS 7th deluxe figure! This bonus 7th deluxe figure features a head sculpt not yet released at U.S. retail.
Thank you for your support! This is it! The last Transformers FSS! Don't miss it.
Howdy fellow Seibertronians; are you ready to delve into the world of comics, catch-up with the current conversation or just continue your favorite ongoing series? Well the new Comixology Unlimited service may be just what you're looking for. Fellow user Flashwave has pointed us to a ComicBookResources.com article explaining the new service. And of course a wide variety of Transformers comics are included in Unlimted.
Highlights are as follows:
•Unlimited reading of selected rotating titles
•Read online or offline on your device
•30 day free trial
•$5.99 a month
•US only, more regions to follow
The entire article can be read here and to be taken to the official Comixology site to sign up for a free trial, click here.
Remember to keep your browsers pointed to Seibertron.com for the latest in Transformer news, the largest Transformers galleries found on the web and the liveliest Transformers discussion this side of a space bridge.
This is bound to change soon so anyone interested in keeping tabs on the available preorders for the heavily sought after combiner wars Deluxe Groove is encouraged to subscribe to this thread for any updates. As of now (May 24th 2:30 pm eastern), here are two places where preorders are still available:
Ready for those Transformers comics to finally come out tomorrow? Well, thanks to Priscilla Tramonato on Instragram, we now have a look at the Incentive Covers for tomorrow's More Than Meets The Eye 53 and The Transformers 53. The Transformers cover shows off a very angry Arcee about to slash the crap out of any con that stands in front of her, while the More Than Meets The Eye cover shows off Swerve looking all relaxed and hanging out in his favorite place: The Bar. Check out the covers mirrored below, and come back tomorrow for our reviews of More Than Meets The Eye and The Transformers, and as always stay tuned to Seibertron.com for all your latest Transformers News and Galleries!
The clock just struck 12:00 am EST and Cinderella Transformers Combiner Wars Deluxe Groove just arrived. BigBadToyStore.com just posted the pre-orders for Combiner Wars Deluxe Groove for $24.99.
If Combiner Wars isn't your bag, BBTS also just posted the pre-orders for MP-25L Masterpiece LoudPedal for $89.99 which is a Decepticon flavored redeco of MP-25 Masterpiece Tracks.
Remember to keep your browsers pointed to Seibertron.com for the latest in Transformer news, the largest Transformers galleries found on the web and the handiest Transformers sightings this side of a space bridge.
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