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Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1

Transformers News: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 11:18AM CST

Categories: Comic Book News, Reviews
Posted by: Tigertrack   Views: 58,162

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...with bad writing?...
...poor art?...
...mistimed events?...
...overplayed plot devices?...

No, the Transformers have been infested by zombies, sillies!

INFESTATION...

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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.

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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 at times.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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-).

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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.

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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?

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(FYI--Plenty of covers to choose from, four to be exact. The above is a piece of my favorite.)
Credit(s): tigertracks 24, IDW Comics
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Re: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1 (1177263)
Posted by MysteriousDewd on February 3rd, 2011 @ 3:06pm CST
Great Review, sadly though I'm not too sure I will pick it up. My faith in IDW has waned over the years to the point it just seems like robbery for me to shell out 5$ a comic for nothing to happen in it. If they were to release say 2-3 comics of their ongoing series in a month, I might think about spending the money but when its just 1 comic a month with the same stuff going on from last issue... eh. I might pick up this though as zombies catch my interest and Galvatron is pretty badass and I've been wanting to see what happened to him since Revelations.
Re: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1 (1177270)
Posted by MINDVVIPE on February 3rd, 2011 @ 3:28pm CST
Ah, I see they're just using magic to explain away all the missing gaps. Pretty weak... I hope they don't enforce this as a solid part of the TF IDW continuity and build on it in the future, coz I'm omitting it.
:CON:
Re: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1 (1177643)
Posted by Flashwave on February 4th, 2011 @ 3:00pm CST
Still no Flame. Marvel dealt with Zombies well in the early comics, and we don't even get the scientist Flame.

Am I just now figuring onut that Bayonet looks a lot like the Attack copter from the RotS line that just came out? She's got the clipped rocket pods on thte sides of her arms, and the down-facing cockpit with the intakes to eith r side.

If that exchange had been ANY one else, Rodimus preferably, it weould've been funy to see the Con the leveller head prevailing. But for Prime, it's just an insulting fail.

A shame.
Re: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1 (1177744)
Posted by Devastron on February 4th, 2011 @ 6:10pm CST
Another lousy review. The hate-on you guys have for IDW has no bounds.

Nick Roche, while still somewhat overrated, does deliver solid pencils in this one. Someone just needs to get him to tone down the anime influence a bit more though. I agree with the review that Prime's ears and other minor features were far too exaggerated.

Its obviously set before or possibly even after the current storyline. I don't think you really need a note to explain that to you. It didn't bother me in the slightest. This is how comics work sometimes, you let that bother you then you are in trouble. Bayonet and the mystery around her will obviously be addressed more in the next issue. Again, not worried about that.

Galvatron and his crew discovered the debris near some sort of dimensional tear in space. They brought aboard what appeared to be frozen dead material to examine it. You normally don't expect dead, frozen things to come back to life when thawed.

As for characterization, I think everyone was pretty spot on.

Prime was fully in character confronting Galavatron. He had just crashed into Las Vegas and started shooting up the place. Last time Prime had seen him he was a key member of a group trying to destroy the universe. When Prime confronted him, instead of explaining anything Galvatron demanded the all follow his orders. Prime moves in to disarm him, seeing as how he has offered nothing but orders without explanation. Galvatron brushes him off and fires on the bots. Then everyone starts shooting. Galvatron never stops to explain until he is restrained and held at gunpoint. As for brushing off Kup, it was a bit cold but they did have a major situation at hand. It wasn't a good time to listen to what seemed to be crazy rantings from the old timer.

If the reviewer had read Infestation 1, which I thought he had, he would know the answer to a lot of his questions. Robots and advanced machinery like mech suits CAN be taken over by zombie plague or whatever you call it. The fact that there were Zombie robots and Sweeps showed this as well.

I think the reviewer would do better by doing more research, leaving out the snarky comments and a little better editing. You want to use the word 'horde' instead of the word 'hoard' in the review.

All in all its one of the best TF issues I've read in a good while.
Re: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1 (1177748)
Posted by MINDVVIPE on February 4th, 2011 @ 6:24pm CST
Devastron wrote:Another lousy review. The hate-on you guys have for IDW has no bounds.

Nick Roche, while still somewhat overrated, does deliver solid pencils in this one. Someone just needs to get him to tone down the anime influence a bit more though. I agree with the review that Prime's ears and other minor features were far too exaggerated.

Its obviously set before or possibly even after the current storyline. I don't think you really need a note to explain that to you. It didn't bother me in the slightest. This is how comics work sometimes, you let that bother you then you are in trouble. Bayonet and the mystery around her will obviously be addressed more in the next issue. Again, not worried about that.

Galvatron and his crew discovered the debris near some sort of dimensional tear in space. They brought aboard what appeared to be frozen dead material to examine it. You normally don't expect dead, frozen things to come back to life when thawed.

As for characterization, I think everyone was pretty spot on.

Prime was fully in character confronting Galavatron. He had just crashed into Las Vegas and started shooting up the place. Last time Prime had seen him he was a key member of a group trying to destroy the universe. When Prime confronted him, instead of explaining anything Galvatron demanded the all follow his orders. Prime moves in to disarm him, seeing as how he has offered nothing but orders without explanation. Galvatron brushes him off and fires on the bots. Then everyone starts shooting. Galvatron never stops to explain until he is restrained and held at gunpoint. As for brushing off Kup, it was a bit cold but they did have a major situation at hand. It wasn't a good time to listen to what seemed to be crazy rantings from the old timer.

If the reviewer had read Infestation 1, which I thought he had, he would know the answer to a lot of his questions. Robots and advanced machinery like mech suits CAN be taken over by zombie plague or whatever you call it. The fact that there were Zombie robots and Sweeps showed this as well.

I think the reviewer would do better by doing more research, leaving out the snarky comments and a little better editing. You want to use the word 'horde' instead of the word 'hoard' in the review.

All in all its one of the best TF issues I've read in a good while.


See, I actually have no problem with Zombie Robots, I just didn't care for the world of human zombies and robot zombies being merged. My opinion I guess, but your review kinda makes me want to atleast give it a shot. The whole "magic" thing put me off, but if its more about some space material that is like a virus... I'm intrigued.
Re: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1 (1178542)
Posted by Darth Bombshell on February 6th, 2011 @ 9:46pm CST
Devastron wrote:Another lousy review. The hate-on you guys have for IDW has no bounds.


If you ask me (and you haven't) the so-called "hate-on" some of us have for IDW is more than well earned. In fact, I daresay we've let them get off easy, considering the crap they've shoveled out over the past year. I mean, they not only continue to let Costa write what is possibly the worst TF series ever done, they let him write an middle finger miniseries disguised as an explanation for one of his classic gaffs and essentially prove that, much like the guys at LucasBooks, no one's at home in the editorial office, since I doubt anyone who cares about the quality of the brand would let such excrement meet the printed page.

tigertracks 24 wrote: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.


I think I read somewhere that this is meant to take place between "For All Mankind" and "International Incident", though of course it would help if it was actually mentioned in the thing.

And yeah, I looked through it during my weekly haul. What really surprised me was the fact that they had reference to previous events pre-AHM. I say I'm surprised about this because...well, quite frankly, IDW has made it know that they don't care about the IDW TF verse pre-AHM, so the fact that they would reference it makes little sense.
Re: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1 (1178609)
Posted by rpetras on February 7th, 2011 @ 12:08am CST
I have to say, I think the review was spot on.

The plot devices, and set ups for both Infestation issues so far have been thin at best.

"Hey look, they just zombified that robot!" ... Sure, why not? :BANG_HEAD:

I was really hoping how they handled the undead in the TF universe would tie in, in a much more meaningful way, to the concept of the "Dead Universe" that was discussed in the Galvatron & Cyclonus spotlights. While the Zombies were found there, it was more just a convenient location, story-wise, rather than an integral part of where the zombies came from.

They did do some nice character work with Kup, and I liked some of what they did with the 'Cons. Even if you did see it coming a mile away, the twist was still fun.

So, it wasn't horrid, but it wasn't what I wanted out of it either.

I'm already collecting Joe and I like Trek and Ghostbusters (though I don't usually get the books), so I've decided to pick up all of Infestation. I hope the rest of the titles don't feel so contrived.
Re: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1 (1179622)
Posted by Devastron on February 8th, 2011 @ 7:50pm CST
Darth Bombshell wrote:
If you ask me (and you haven't) the so-called "hate-on" some of us have for IDW is more than well earned. In fact, I daresay we've let them get off easy, considering the crap they've shoveled out over the past year. I mean, they not only continue to let Costa write what is possibly the worst TF series ever done, they let him write an middle finger miniseries disguised as an explanation for one of his classic gaffs and essentially prove that, much like the guys at LucasBooks, no one's at home in the editorial office, since I doubt anyone who cares about the quality of the brand would let such excrement meet the printed page.


I didn't and never will ask for you opinion DB. Personally I have no use for your comments or opinions. I would have thought you would be tired of spewing the same lines again and again. Your problem is your unending desire to force your opinion down everyone's throats as if it was a fact everyone agreed on.

Mindvvipe, the zombie plague or whatever you want to call it has some sort of group mind or consciousness. The goal seems to be to acquire more knowledge by 'zombifying' more beings and to keep spreading. That was basically covered in the separate Infestation 1 book. It isn't required to understand the TF one but I highly recommend reading it as it does explain a lot. Transformers Infestation 1, while not a perfect comic, was fun and a bit of a step up from the ongoing.
Re: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1 (1179673)
Posted by Burn on February 8th, 2011 @ 9:39pm CST
It definitely does help to read the initial Infestation book, but then if you want the full story you have to go and pick up some of IDW's older books which originally introduced Brit and the other characters.

Was it a good read? eh, it was okay. IDW are definitely trying to do something unique with the whole "Zombie Apocolypse" storyline, but in that regard, it's just a zombie plague, but one that has a group consciousness and can infect more than just organics, nothing really ground shattering there.
Re: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1 (1180131)
Posted by victoryconvoy on February 9th, 2011 @ 9:59pm CST
I think that it is mindless stupid fun!! Let's take it for what it is zombies vs robots!!!!!!!!!!!!
Re: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1 (1180141)
Posted by Darth Bombshell on February 9th, 2011 @ 10:14pm CST
Devastron wrote:I didn't and never will ask for you opinion DB. Personally I have no use for your comments or opinions. I would have thought you would be tired of spewing the same lines again and again. Your problem is your unending desire to force your opinion down everyone's throats as if it was a fact everyone agreed on.


To be honest, I'm starting to get bored of harping about IDW's current direction, too. But personally, I feel that as long as they continue to put it out there, I'll continue to harp about it. I mean, it's my right to do so, as much as it its your right to ignore me.

Though to be fair, the issue that came out today is an improvement, though whether or not its cause the bar is six feet under I dunno...
Re: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1 (1184029)
Posted by Desmobot on February 19th, 2011 @ 12:46am CST
Aw come on guys. It was a fun read. It's not like it was meant to be some serious venture into TF canon. They did it for GI Joe and Star Trek as well. I think we should take it for what it is; an entertaining jaunt into a campy "what if" scenario. ZOMBIES AND ROBOTS!
Re: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1 (1184129)
Posted by Darth Bombshell on February 19th, 2011 @ 9:24am CST
Desmobot wrote:Aw come on guys. It was a fun read. It's not like it was meant to be some serious venture into TF canon.


Actually, it is. They all but admitted so themselves.
Re: Review of IDW's Transformers: Infestation #1 (1184260)
Posted by Tigertrack on February 19th, 2011 @ 3:56pm CST
I think this will be a good lead to 'Heart of Darkness'.

I thought this issue complimented the first well, and finished the TF arch well. I am not sure that we have seen the last of Kup, I'd imagine perhaps, he'll make his way back in some way.

I was also kind of disappointed how Straxus just showed up, but anyone can explain how he was hidden or still in the ship, or something, I suppose.


I'm not hating this issue or the series (even if it sounded like it), I just always have hopes for more, and am usually left wanting. I am perhaps critical because I have read so many comics in my lifetime (good and bad), and really enjoy Transformers.

I do think maybe this new writing duo can show us something on the HOD series. Mike Costa has this incredible ideas, but if his GI JOE: COBRA, and GI JOE: COBRA II are any indicators, he loves to nitpick details and set up for dramatic finishes, albeit even though they can seem to drag on a bit.