Thursday, February 3rd 2011 11:18am CST
Categories: Comic Book News
Posted by: Tigertrack
tigertracks 24, IDW Comics
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...with bad writing?...
...overplayed plot devices?...
No, the Transformers have been infested by zombies, sillies!
The Transformers universe has had a few crossovers in its past. GI JOE being the favored property, but recently we also got the Transformers crossed over with Marvel’s Avengers for a few issues matching robotic strength and intelligence with superhuman strength and intelligence and coming out rather poorly for both parties, and especially the readers.
IDW has decided to try another approach, with not a typical crossover, but an introduction of a single element to its existing titles. Thus, we get zombies and vampires introduced to the Autobot and Decepticon war (much like they have been introduced into many other mainstream companies titles over the last year: Green Lantern, X-Men, and their related titles to name a couple). And thanks to IDW (little late to the party) now they are also added to the Star Trek Fleet Academy, and Cobra’s ruthless terrorist group. And into the realm of Ghostbusters (somehow). The main characters in each brand never actually crossover with one another, but events do, starting out with an introduction in INFESTATION #1, and then continuing its events into the four main titles respective individual universes.
So what happened in INFESTATION #1 which came out last week? First of all, it sold out and IDW is going to release a 2nd printing on February 16th. Plot-wise, a group of paranormal watchdogs (vampires, a zombie, and a very familiar looking red demon) were assigned to try to take care of a government mistake involving parallel dimensions-universes.
The government in its pursuit of more resources, and alternative solutions found a way to open a portal to another Earth, this one inhabited entirely by some sort of zombie plagued humanoids. Claiming the zombies could not come through at this time, plans were being made on how best to use this opportunity for the ‘good Earth’s‘ benefit (ie-mostly zombie-less Earth’s benefit) Then, as fate is known to do, an event happens where the zombies somehow find their way through the portal. GASP! Totally unexpected plot twist.
The undead task force enters the situation hoping to make a quick kill and shutdown of the situation. However, the zombies prove more resilient, and it is discovered that there is a hive mind controlling the zombies (the ‘Undermind’--sounds familiar), and that when the zombies feast, they are gaining power and knowledge for this collective, even though at it this time we do not know its other motives.
A key member of the task force gets corrupted, and another member becomes an undead, undead... Wrap your mind around that one. Oh, and did I mention that the zombie plague has magically (literally) also become able to infect robots, which also were being used at this secret government base.
As the issue comes to an end it sets up the 4 universe crossover, and infestation of said universes.
What this will mean for the Transformers universe is still uncertain. But with the release of TRANSFORMERS: INFESTATION #1 yesterday, we are now finding out.
For you to chew on while you read this review and read the issue yourself, supposedly, we have this on good authority, that the events that happen in TRANSFORMERS INFESTATIONS #1
are actually meant to happen within the realm of the regular ongoing story, ie not an alternate dimension, or what if type story...hmmm....
So getting that out of the way, let’s explore this issue.
ART and PLOT:
Nick Roche on pencils... this should be a very large, yay, for the fandom at large as Nick has been known to draw his designs very similarly to cartoon, comic, and current toy images, albeit with a bit of cartoon-y flare of his own involved. Nick has his detractors though, and this issue may add more on to that list.
You can definitely tell who each character is meant to be.
Another solid reason for Roche to be involved in this story is his work on the acclaimed Kup Spotlight.
Gaining his notoriety from his artwork and story there, Nick has worked hard to become what we now see, and his art on Kup while a very different style, now looks more normal than other artist’s art that we have seen recently. I mention the Kup Spotlight because Kup curiously goes a little insane this issue and as the zombie hoards start menacing Las Vegas, Kup plays a bigger role in this than some of his Autobot buds. Was Roche chosen as artist for this reason? His link to Kup’s past? Hmmm...
Roche’s work does bug me a little at times, being a bit too cartoon-y, and stylized. For example, his Optimus Prime ‘ears’
make Prime look a bit like the TRIX rabbit, maybe not that bad, but they are long. Hate to see what HASBRO would have to do with the toy version of Nick’s Prime (more chopping!). Prowl’s ‘eyebrows’ are also like-wise enhanced. Roche is also drawing some very chin-tastic (Spoon!) characters, so much so that you might feel like you are stepping back into TF-Animated
Small criticisms aside, his work does move the story nicely, and as stated before, you can tell who the major characters are, where they are, and what they are doing.
Is it dark like a zombie book would seem to need to be? Nope, it’s been drawn to take place in the bright lights of Las Vegas so Lafuente’s character colors are pretty bright palette, as are the layout colors. We all know dark is not a necessity for the horror genre, but often times is used. There is plenty of blood red to go around (making this title a mature rated title, I believe). Would I have liked a more horror-inspired style...I think I would, but anyway.
Without further ado, we now move to the events of this issue.
Letter (A) in the confusing things list.
Optimus Prime, Prowl, Kup, Bumblebee, Wheeljack, Drift, and Spike’s Skywatch mechsuit team are all present. But based on the events in Transformers Ongoing up to this point, they shouldn’t be. Bumblebee was mortally wounded, but is in his ‘upgraded form’ from after his self-named mini series. The Skywatch team, Prime, Prowl, and the other bots are lost, supposedly blown up after the events in the ‘International Incident’. So right here, we need a disclaimer for when these events are supposed to happen. It seems as though they are happening after Bumblebee is made leader, but prior to events in ‘the international incident’, which if it was stated somewhere, I didn’t catch it.
This little debacle is actually not the first in the sequence of story events. The story is introduced when Galvatron crashes to Earth in a huge ship, bringing Scourge, Cyclonus, Bayonet, and a hella’ of a lot of zombified humanoids and robots. Who is Bayonet you might ask? Good question. Since this is a violent, death filled, horror based idea--zombies-- one might assume that she is the Sergeant Redshirt
of the cons (Star Trek reference), ready to bite it in the first act. There is a surprise in there waiting for us. And it may not be what is assumed.
What is odd though, is even though they are on the same ship, Galvatron wants to destroy the zombies. Freed from the dimension from IDW’s better writing days...whoops did I say that?
... anyway, fresh from the Dead Universe, where last we saw Galvatron plotting escape with Scourge (All Hail Megatron Coda #something), somehow Galvatron’s crew bumped into one of the groups of zombie’s that the hive mind sent to the 4 other dimensions (Infestation #1)--this group was frozen in space--Galvatron intercepted them, took them onboard the ship, and then they thawed, and the cons fought them. Great idea Galvatron!
I found the writing team’s (Dan Abbnett and Andy Lanning) use of the Transformers characters to be for lack of a better word, a bit -mishandled-.
Their Optimus Prime was an over-idealistic, uncaring leader, apparently more worried about a grudge match than assessing the real danger.
When Galvatron requests, and/or orders Optimus Prime to help stop the undead, all Prime can worry about are the Decepticons, and taking them down. Seriously? And Bumblebee, the humans, and the other bots just egg him on, supporting that whole stance.
Only after they have captured Galvatron do they actually listen to him and discover the real threat. Prime has not stopped being all macho and tunnel-visioned though.
Another situation with an out-of-character Optimus Prime is in his blatantly poor treatment of Kup, and his impatience toward said grambot. Really? With one of his oldest, highest regarded mentors? I'd never treat my grandfather that way.
Granted, Kup is going insane a bit (mentioned this earlier), flashing back to his time alone with hoards of ‘creatures’ attacking him (Spotlight Kup), and losing his grasp on reality, seemingly talking nonsense to those who do not know better (hello, Prowl, jump in at any time--AHM Coda- Perceptor-).
It proves Kup is pretty sane and his rantings reveal the true evil... Britt (the undead, undead) who is there to lead the zombie hive mind’s army, and destroy this universe--I think that’s their goal anyway
Yes, it reads about as bad as it sounds when I try to summarize and be critical about it. There is some very good robot versus robot action, but the sense of it all does not seem to be there as the Autobots, who are normally so good at waiting and assessing the why’s and what’s, jump in simply with clichés and guns blazing, and looking to level the threat to Las Vegas, which they do not take time to correctly perceive.
I know it seems that due to this comic crossover we get to have Galvatron, Cyclonus, and Scourge back into the IDW Ongoing continuity (hooray?), but it certainly makes one wonder if there was not another way, a better way to get them back into the fold. Dead Universe, zombies, it seems like a great match, if the idea of re-animating machines (any machine?) with the zombie plague was better explained. At one point a mech suit is zombified, and so is the driver. So how far can the plague be transferred? Non-sentient machines? The whole idea is unclear to me, but it may be because I do not have a lot of experience with the setup characters (Britt and the other vampires in the special unit in INFESTATION #1).
Ultimately, it’s a readable issue, with more gore than normal for Transformers comics. It is a bit unstable in it’s handling of the title characters, and for me the art does not reflect the seriousness of a zombie infestation, or the amount of violence and fear that that idea usually causes one to picture. Jae Lee would have been nice to see here, but there are others as well, who would draw with a scarier, more horror setting approrpiate type of art that would better set you into the whole zombie plague epidemic. Heck, Roche could have gone closer to the darkside and used more of his Spotlight Kup style.
I know it’s zombies coming to the Transformers universe, not the other way around, so the art could make sense from that point of view. I just think a more tone setting style for this art would be better...my opinion of course.
I look forward to reading what issue #2 of TRANSFORMERS: INFESTATION brings us (February 16th
). I’m not sure that from what I have seen if I am motivated to pick up any of IDW’s other titles infested, but I’m not going to avoid the Transformers version. It’s good for something different, even if it seems a bit incomplete, and the writing of certain characters seems to be done with an unknowing hand. I’ll probably read INFESTATION #2
at the end that will wrap things up in a pretty bow.
What did you think of these books? Worth a look? Not worth the bother?
(FYI--Plenty of covers to choose from, four to be exact. The above is a piece of my favorite.)
Wednesday, January 5th 2011 1:22pm CST
Categories: Comic Book News
Posted by: Tigertrack
tigertracks 24, IDW Comics
Discuss This Topic · Permanent Link
Alright, hot on the heals of the five page preview
, as is usual for the comic releases, is the early review of the issue that will be out at your local shop today (barring unforeseen delays), Wednesday, January 5th.
This series compared to any other IDW Transformers series is receiving a lot of heavy fan criticism for its pacing, and art, and when the five page preview was posted for this issue a lot of you could not help but to say that you really feel like you’re looking at and reading an inferior product.
I have to admit I have my doubts too. Lifetime comic book reader, I will also read anything you put in front of me Transformers related. I’ve been critical of Transformers comics in the past, and I still believe we the fans have yet to see what the majority would agree is a fantastic Transformers comic, both in its visual presentation and its written word. Mike Costa gained a lot of buzz from his early work with G.I. Joe: COBRA, but seems to have had a hard time bringing that magic to TRANSFORMERS. Don Figueroa, once considered THE BEST TRANSFORMERS artist perhaps we’ve ever seen pick up a pen for our robots, is struggling to hold many fans’ faith in his designs.
Both creators have taken a lot of flak over this series, but perhaps with this issue, we are starting to see an upswing in the story, and getting closer to what a lot of us complainers would enjoy ‘reading’ more of. I have to admit, I posted the five-page preview here, and I did not even read it. Why? Because it had about 3 pages of human dialogue, and a page and a half or so of bot action (recap, no less!), so much as it was.
But after reading the issue in its entirety and reflecting, we have had some interesting takes on TRANSFORMERS lately, dating back to the whole ‘International Incident’ and now this next part, which is turning into an ‘International, and Intergalactic Incident’.
I enjoyed issue #15. The dialogue at the beginning is actually very interesting debating the whole appropriateness of selling alien armaments, and legislation for the control of said weaponry. But I can picture that the whole argument could be covered in a one to two word balloon filled panels, and leave more room for something more exciting to be seen/represented/drawn rather than the camera angle flip between two talking humans’ faces of little interest to the overall story and characters we really want to see.
The Decepticon plot, seemingly Megatron initiated even though Soundwave, and Shockwave must do A LOT on their parts to see it through as well, is revealed and it is about nothing less than dominating the planet Earth (surprise), and creating chaos and mistrust amongst the humans of the world, playing heavily off the fact that the Autobots seem to be even less trustworthy than before. Oh those silly Decepticons, adding to the seeds of distrust through mind-manipulating weaponry. Poor Bumblebee, the victim of that violence.
"Could even Dr. House save poor Bumblebee?"
I have to admit, as I type this the idea seems like your basic Transformers on Earth plot from a G1 cartoon--corny, and it seems like a plot point that Ongoing has been stuck on getting to for 15 issues and then some. To me, well, the plot is getting very worn out and old, and the payoff does not seem to be what it should be...yet. There is still a third part to this whole, ‘Revenge of the Decepticons’ arc, maybe more. Perhaps part of the reason that I liked this issue was because we might perhaps be seeing this whole Earth humans dominating Transformers scenario wrapping up (finally). There is indeed a light at the end of this seemingly endless tunnel.
In a nutshell...
So revealed today, is that when the cons brought Megs back up to space they could not repair his body, so a new one was created, and somehow moved his spark to it. Then they took his old body and fashioned it into a bunch of mini-Megatron guns with some of his conscious still in them (a very small part).
These evil guns were then space-bridged to Earth, and we get what happened last issue...
Like I said, a bit campy, in its retro-80's styling. Or is that nostalgia?
Anyway, we could use a little G1 nostalgia because DON's designs are still, well, yeah...
"Which Transformer am I again?"
The art ‘is what it is’ as they say- mixed bag. Don is back on and he is still using the same style as he used when he first started the Ongoing series, fifteen issues ago. Like it or lump it, it’s there, and it looks like it is staying, at least as long as Don is doing artist chores. But what he has also done, introduced the last two issues and featured in this issue, is a major Megatron re-design. I’m not sure if he took his inspiration from Transformers Animated’s Shadow Blades Megatron
, but I think the similarities are obvious, minus the alt modes. I kind of like it in an ‘let’s do something different and create an upgrade for this hugely popular character’, even if the reasoning behind the new body is kind of well, contrived and nonsensical, but it is reasoning. Sort of like Galvatron-lite, this re-created Megatron really has yet to test his new body, which I think many of us are waiting for (and hoping will come soon!) before we fully give it thumbs up or thumbs down.
Meanwhile, as the Decepticons plan to control the silly humans' minds adding to the paranoia already present with their 'guns', the Autobots that are left (the other went and blowed up last issue-supposedly), Ultra Magnus makes the decision to find Omega Supreme(duh!) and leave Earth (double duh!)
due to the compromised and partially destroyed base, and the hopelessness of the now, very small group of Autobots left . At least something is happening, although the only bots that seem to be left to home anymore are Brawn, Bluestreak, and Magnus. Red Alert was around somewhere too...and of course, the practically gone Bumblebee.
But before they start the journey, Magnus pulls Brawn aside for a little solo act of yet unknown objectives.
It's a sad time for the Autobots, and this does generate some interest in reading the next issue.
"Can you hear me now poor pathetic, weak-minded, squishy flesh creature? GOOD! Now I will destroy you and your entire planet!"
Megatron got WIFI and 4G in his upgraded body. Cool!
"Look Brawn, you just can't have everything you want in a Transformers comic, because there is someone else out there who wants something else, and someone else who wants something else...."
"I'm glad we had this talk Ultra Magnus. Thanks."
Walter P-38’s are taking over the world, slowly, but surely, be afraid, be very afraid. They’re in your TV’s...
...and in your radios.
"Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas, Daniel?"
"Well, let's see I got a doggy, and... no way, a Megatron gun!"
"Now Daniel, don't go shooting your eye out..."
BE CAREFUL! It may be your radio and TV that are telling you to buy HASBRO Transformers and IDW Transformers comics. Be wary of strangers with raspy voices!
"It's my turn to wear the matrix Starscream"
"No, it's my turn to wear it, you dolt. You wore it the whole first 6 months we were here from Earth. So get out of my face!"
*I laughed a little inside when I saw this movie reference*