About 'Transformers: Robots in Disguise Ongoing #6'- Personal Thoughts
Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 10:22am CDTCategory: Comic Book News
Posted by: Tigertrack Views: 21,117
--My thoughts share some spoilers, but hopefully only enough to tease, and not ruin the whole reading experience for you.--
Backtrack: Deciding to leave after the events of CHAOS and the rebirth of Cybertron, Optimus Prime attempted to remove himself from the situation. With Megatron gone, and the Decepticons defeated, Optimus felt his presence was causing more harm than good. Returning to his given name, Orion Pax, he bled a trail to parts of the galaxy yet unknown to us, hoping that the removal of his presence would help Bumblebee and the Autobots to be able to create peace.
Now: Six months later (our time), he makes his return. Having Optimus Prime back seemed to create the expectation, the feeling within me that all will be well now. However, don’t assume having him back means he’s back on Cybertron, as you can see from the preview, he’s not. Bumblebee will have to work out his own problems there... for the time being.
The story in this issue has been written with some interesting reveals, and surprises. It steps away from the conflict that Bumblebee, Prowl, and the other Autobots find themselves in on Cybertron, and moves us across the galaxy to follow Wheelie, Garnak, and Hardhead (a very unlikely trio), as they protect and remove a particularly dangerous piece of cargo from Cybertron. I know, it seems like an uninteresting crew, bland and dull, but ‘the cargo’.... there’s the catch.
When I read this first part of the issue, I was thinking to myself, no way, no way, they have Megatron in tow. But part of me was excited thinking it could be him, why else would Optimus need to be called upon again?
Fortunately, the writers created an answer to this that is more complicated than my idea was, and perhaps even more dangerous, and interesting.
Because 'the cargo' they are carrying is having a ‘reaction’ to events happening to a long dead and destroyed Shockwave seeded world (yes, that means Ore-13 could be involved) called Arduria, Hardhead, and Wheelie call upon Optimus Prime for his wisdom, and his leadership to help them to know what to do with ‘the cargo’, now that it is reacting as it is. Optimus would seem to be the only one available to observe and then ascertain, and carry out the next step.
Because of the danger of ‘the cargo’ (psst...it is a Transformer), Optimus Prime travels with the trio to the origin of the Ardurian signal causing all this CRAZY hubbub. Here they find much more than what they were looking for, a trap, a clue, and some very dangerous Decepticons who haven’t made an appearance in quite some time.
Picking up a few loose threads from IDW’s earliest Transformers series (‘-tion’s, Stormbringer, and many a characters’ Spotlight issues), this issue and those following promise to add more depth to some of those threads that we have been wanting some resolution to since, well, when they happened, and were not really resolved in ‘Revelation’.
At least 3 Decepticons (somebody’s fan favorite I am sure) make their return. The ramifications of their return, not quite revealed by the end of the issue. But that’s why it’s a multi-parter.
The story reads well, offers many points for readers to use clues, and make their own guesses before certain revelations happen, like the mystery cargo, the signal, and who springs the trap, what’s in the ice and rock (gestalt!)...
I found this to be a really needed change of pace for the Robots in Disguise series which to me, has grown somewhat stale. While the events on Cybertron have led to quite a few interesting conflicts of ideals, and really have started to give great depth to the characters involved, this issue offers a different focus, while still related to the events occurring on Cybertron. It feels like a much needed break.
It’s nice that the change of setting and story focus includes a very different art style to go with it. Livio Ramondelli returns to the printed comics after his successful run on the online Transformer comic ‘Autocracy’ to lend his skills to the telling of this arc. Reminiscent of the way IDW used Ramondelli and other artists to tell the two different pieces happening in Ongoing, the re-use of this strategy, giving regular artist Andrew Griffith a break, seemed effectively used to me. While part of me begs to see some of the characters done in a more ‘traditional’ style, ‘Autocracy’ gave me much needed confidence in Livio’s skills to create a fantastic, dark setting. I wish his character details stood out more, but his panel work usually does a very nice job telling the story.
Don’t stop reading just because Optimus is back. It’s not the same ol’ same ol’ (yet anyway). The action, and the payoff for longtime readers really make this issue a fun read. I’m already excited and can’t wait for the follow up issues. Hopefully, the creators pay off the interesting plot which has been started here, and don’t just give us more loose story pieces to wonder about.
Check out the preview pages here, if you need more convincing to read this for yourself.
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Credit(s): tigertracks 24
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Posted by El Duque on June 13th, 2012 @ 11:44am CDT
PAGE 1: After the events from Transformers: The Death of Optimus Prime, readers thought we wouldn’t see Prime,—now known as Orion Pax—again for a while. What were the reasons for bringing him back so soon? And, there is a real feeling of being in the depths of space in these panels.
JOHN BARBER: Well, for me, the important thing was to get him away from Cybertron, and let Bumblebee be the leader—without a net. With Prime out of the picture and Rodimus in space, it’s up to Bee to try his hand at leadership, and nobody will be there to pick him up if he falls.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to use Prime—or, I mean, Orion Pax. We set it up in DoOP that he was leaving and sort of implied that he’d be… I don’t know, relaxing or something? I mean, we all know he’s not going to be gone for good, right? He’s probably one of the 10 most recognizable fictional characters on Earth. We know he’s coming back.
So getting back to him but keeping him off in space, off on his own (sort of), it creates a new status quo for him. If we don’t show him, you’re always going to be wondering—“will he swoop in and save Bumblebee and Prowl?” Well, here he is. He’s not on Cybertron. Even though he’s in the book, it makes his departure more concrete.
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: I wanted this issue to feel like you were getting to see new parts of the universe. Ancient areas that might even predate the Autobot and Decepticon war. With the first three pages in particular I really wanted to get across the notion of being in deep space, and arriving on a world that hadn’t had a visitor in a long time. If I did my job right, the panels establishing the world should feel very still and really be creating a mystery as to what happened. If you look closely you can see some of the spiked buildings of the world jutting out at weird angles on the chunks of ice in the distance. This would suggest that the world was frozen and literally torn apart by some horrific event.
And, it was certainly great to see Optimus Prime (Orion Pax) again. I just think there’s something comforting about seeing him show up. Plus there was a funny connection between working on this issue when he’s going by the name Orion Pax once again, and having just finished Autocracy where we see him go from Orion Pax to Optimus Prime. The symmetry of these stories was interesting, working on both his past and his present almost simultaneously.
PAGES 2 and 3: The remains of this world come across so well here. Did you guys go through different versions of this page before getting to what we have here? The aliens here also look very biomechanical.
JOHN BARBER: Livio and I went and got lunch one day… I’d pitched an idea for this issue to our editor, Carlos Guzman, and he just stared at me—I could tell my ideas were so half-baked that he was trying to figure out a way to let me down gently… And he was right, so I went back to the drawing board for the issue.
Then Livio and I got lunch, and he was talking about how his background in landscape designs for video games, and saying he’d love to do something in the ice and snow, and I threw out this idea I had of a gas giant planet that had frozen and broken apart. I don’t think I’d seen that anywhere, and I didn’t really know what it would look like, but I figured Livio would make it look cool. And he did.
The Rocs—there was one reference to Ardurian Rocs in an issue Simon Furman wrote, and I thought—well, I’ll steal that! It was a tossed-off line—“watch me like an Ardurian Roc,” but I thought it might be fun to build up this actual civilization around them, make them some kind of alien species that the Cybertronians had had a relationship with, and see what Livio came up with visually.
In terms of the story, the important thing was that they had to be pretty durable to survive the extreme temperatures. I always liked the feeling I had watching the 1986 Transformers: The Movie when they encounter all these aliens and they’re all mechanical-based instead of biological. I know later on there were explanations tying things together, but I always liked the idea that in this universe, mechanical life is as common as biological life. I like playing up the weirdness of the Transformers universe. There’s no square-cube relationship when it comes to scaling biological creatures—things can be big or small… Anyway, the real work here was Livio.
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: This environment was a blast to do. All of my Transformers work to date has, funny enough, consisted of taking place entirely on Cybertron. And this was a chance to really throw another type of alien world in there. The notion of the ice planet was something John and I both really clicked on, and at lunch we just started tossing out ideas. I loved the idea of a world that had suffered some devastating incident and was literally just frozen pieces drifting through space. And even worse, that a few of the inhabitants of that world were still alive to just sort of slowly freeze to death.
Also strangely enough I had always intended the world to have a very blue color palette to it, but when I was doing the lighting I just sort of randomly tried this red glow and ended up liking it. I felt like it gave the planet a very alien and unwelcoming look to it. I wanted the world to have a sense of stillness to it, like it’s probably very quiet here. Until the later pages of the issue.
I really wanted to get across a desolate feeling here. This is not Cybertron, where even at its lowest point it’s a developed world with buildings and technology. This is almost a primal rock floating in space, and I wanted it to feel like Orion Pax was really having to journey somewhere new.
There’s another two-page spread later in the issue, where John really wanted us to expand the Transformers universe in terms of aliens we’d see. He wanted to see aliens of vastly different sizes and races, and to have organic life as well as mechanical. It’s certainly an interesting notion that will be absolutely explored further. The idea of what else is out there aside from Cybertron and its devastating war.
And it’s also fun to see the onetime Optimus Prime (and current Orion Pax) mingling with friends in a far more social setting than what we’ve seen before. He’s not on some vast battlefield, but rather sitting at a dingy table and having a few drinks. It really shows where he’s at in his life now, having handed off leadership duties and really just trying to find his way.
PAGE 4: Shockwave! Doing things that tie into his earliest appearances in the IDW universe. How fun is it to have him back, doing what he does best?
JOHN BARBER: I was nervous about writing Shockwave in this continuity. I’d written him in the movie universe, and the way I wrote him was—well, this was how Bob Budiansky described writing him, too, but I didn’t know that quote that when I first started writing the movie stuff—was as a malevolent Mr. Spock. And Spock’s logical, but he’s also really smart and funny—I mean, when you watch the old Star Trek series (or the movie) Spock’s got this dry sense of humor where you’re never sure if he’s making a joke, or if he’s just so logical he doesn’t realize he’s being funny—but he seems too smart for that.
So it took me a little time to get that right, but by the end of the movie books, I think I had the voice down okay. I liked writing the character. But I thought if I used him in the regular series, he’d just sound the same—and I see the two worlds as being pretty different—I mean, here, he’s a scientist, for instance. That’s his deal. His entire M.O. is different. But James Roberts was telling me to use him, and Livio wanted to draw him, and he’s Michael Kelly at Hasbro’s favorite Transformer, and one of mine, too…
So, yeah. A lot of fun.
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: I love how John writes Shockwave. I think he just nails that character’s voice. And again at lunch, I remember how much we both enjoyed the idea of Shockwave being this sort of unsympathetic detective who would be exploring this world. I think John did a terrific job with the panel descriptions. I really like seeing Shockwave just casually walking by these desperate creatures begging for help. If they can’t give him new information, he just does not care to even look at them.
Shockwave has always been one of my favorite Transformers, and it was a blast getting to draw him here.
PAGE 5: Shockwave is going from darkness to light in these panels. Any clues as to where the character is going in reference to this or is it simply how the panels were laid out on the page?
JOHN BARBER: Writing for Livio means you can write lighting stuff in a way you can’t always. And even if you don’t write it, he thinks the lighting through. There’s stuff Livio does here that pretty much nobody else in comics can do.
But in a literal sense, we find out where he went later in the issue.
LIVIO RAMONDELLI: Where he’s headed is certainly meant to be a mystery to keep you going until the end of the issue. Shockwave definitely sees something that catches his attention in that final shot when he’s bathed in light. I also liked the reversal that the true horror of what happened to the planet at its core is actually the brightest spot, as opposed to the darkest.
Posted by Stormrider on June 13th, 2012 @ 6:29pm CDT
Posted by quickmixed on June 14th, 2012 @ 2:46am CDT
Stormrider wrote:I am probably in the minority, but I appreciate the artwork. The lighting and detailed textures adds a dark alien feeling that I don't see when looking at other Transformers comic books.
I quite enjoy Livios work also. The only real gripe I have had in the past is that I don't think it works with any other artists work, like in a series like RID. I think his work on Autocracy is great and it really works well because its a mini series of sorts and self contained for his own style.
I would have much preferred if this whole Pax storyline was released as a seperate miniseries also and not under the RID banner. Griffith was doing really well I thought.
Posted by rpetras on June 14th, 2012 @ 11:46am CDT
quickmixed wrote:I would have much preferred if this whole Pax storyline was released as a seperate miniseries also and not under the RID banner. Griffith was doing really well I thought.
I'd thought about the same thing as I was reading it too. This has the makings of a mini series, or even a 3rd series.
But, to be quite honest, I'm getting a little bored with the main story arcs, so it is nice to have a break. The main stories are not bad, in fact I think they have improved the TF comics as a whole, but both area little plodding in pace, with RID being the slower of the two.
So, overall, a little break from the main story might be a good thing.