IDW The Transformers #53 Review

IDW The Transformers #53 Review

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 6:15am CDT

Categories: Comic Book News, Reviews, Site Articles
Posted by: ScottyP   Views: 35,681

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You're ridiculous, Sky-Byte


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.

Full creator credits can be found in our Vector Sigma Database page for this issue.

Transformers News: IDW The Transformers #53 Review
Skydiving Poetry Slam


Story
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.

Transformers News: IDW The Transformers #53 Review
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.

Transformers News: IDW The Transformers #53 Review
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.

Transformers News: IDW The Transformers #53 Review
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.

Transformers News: IDW The Transformers #53 Review
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.

Transformers News: IDW The Transformers #53 Review
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.

Art
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.

Transformers News: IDW The Transformers #53 Review
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.

Transformers News: IDW The Transformers #53 Review
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.

Final Thoughts
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.
Transformers News: IDW The Transformers #53 Review
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:

. :BOT: :BOT: and 1/2 - out of :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: :BOT:


For readers that like a fun tone interspersed with a looser overall plot:

. :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: - out of :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: :BOT: :BOT:

Credit(s): IDW Publishing


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Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792470)
Posted by Randomhero on May 25th, 2016 @ 8:46am CDT
I liked it alot. It was a fun issue but I was confused with the end was skyreign threatening superion or coming to his aid. The dialogue and direction was a bit wonky for me. Doesn't make sense he's help the deceptions but he is being forced to combine.

This issue is what I wanted from Combiner wars. Just ridiculous combines and everyone getting to play,
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792478)
Posted by Windsweeper on May 25th, 2016 @ 9:23am CDT
I really want to see a new writer for this book.
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792481)
Posted by Moody magpie on May 25th, 2016 @ 9:52am CDT
Compared to MTMTE this issue was a train wreck! :BANG_HEAD:
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792501)
Posted by Allenspurs on May 25th, 2016 @ 10:48am CDT
I give up,it's just a glorified toy catalogue now....that only wants to sell you the crap reprints that nobody wants.

Wow rewind two years and these comics were the best I've ever read,now they are just.....trash thrown out by hasbro to sell some toys
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792502)
Posted by D-Maximal_Primal on May 25th, 2016 @ 10:48am CDT
This issue was all over the place. This did not feel like Barber. This felt like a big commercial. there really wasn't that good a storyline, and the ridiculous combining showdown in the end was just crazy. half the guys with names in the fight suddenly combined. And Galvatron, the fact that he hates combiners yet is perfectly ok with just throwing random cybertronians together just wasn't right. It wasn't his character. Scotty said it best: Galvatron felt like his season 3 fellow, not the IDW guy we've gotten used to.

MTMTE definitely beat out this comic this month, no question. This was a bit of a train wreck :MAXIMAL:
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792503)
Posted by D-Maximal_Primal on May 25th, 2016 @ 10:50am CDT
Allenspurs wrote:I give up,it's just a glorified toy catalogue now....that only wants to sell you the crap reprints that nobody wants.

Wow rewind two years and these comics were the best I've ever read,now they are just.....trash thrown out by hasbro to sell some toys

What's interesting though is that the combiner names and 2 of the 5 Sky Reign guys are the only things connected. Most of those guys were not even made toys in CW :MAXIMAL:
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792505)
Posted by Randomhero on May 25th, 2016 @ 10:57am CDT
D-Maximus_Primal wrote:
Allenspurs wrote:I give up,it's just a glorified toy catalogue now....that only wants to sell you the crap reprints that nobody wants.

Wow rewind two years and these comics were the best I've ever read,now they are just.....trash thrown out by hasbro to sell some toys

What's interesting though is that the combiner names and 2 of the 5 Sky Reign guys are the only things connected. Most of those guys were not even made toys in CW :MAXIMAL:



Exactly. It's John doing his own thing and God forbid a comic based on an entire franchise that was founded on selling toys actually does that (which its not doing here)
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792506)
Posted by Randomhero on May 25th, 2016 @ 11:01am CDT
D-Maximus_Primal wrote:This issue was all over the place. This did not feel like Barber. This felt like a big commercial. there really wasn't that good a storyline, and the ridiculous combining showdown in the end was just crazy. half the guys with names in the fight suddenly combined. And Galvatron, the fact that he hates combiners yet is perfectly ok with just throwing random cybertronians together just wasn't right. It wasn't his character. Scotty said it best: Galvatron felt like his season 3 fellow, not the IDW guy we've gotten used to.

MTMTE definitely beat out this comic this month, no question. This was a bit of a train wreck :MAXIMAL:



Johns IDW Galvatron is very season 3 at some points. He's threatened to kill astrotrain for just being there when he meets up with Arcee last year and him using combiners is fine. Yeah he hates them but if it gets the results done sure he'd use them.

Even megatron planned on killing the Constructicons/devastator once his usefulness was done in all hail megatron. Sometimes you have to do stuff you have to get the job done.
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792515)
Posted by D-Maximal_Primal on May 25th, 2016 @ 11:26am CDT
Randomhero wrote:
D-Maximus_Primal wrote:This issue was all over the place. This did not feel like Barber. This felt like a big commercial. there really wasn't that good a storyline, and the ridiculous combining showdown in the end was just crazy. half the guys with names in the fight suddenly combined. And Galvatron, the fact that he hates combiners yet is perfectly ok with just throwing random cybertronians together just wasn't right. It wasn't his character. Scotty said it best: Galvatron felt like his season 3 fellow, not the IDW guy we've gotten used to.

MTMTE definitely beat out this comic this month, no question. This was a bit of a train wreck :MAXIMAL:



Johns IDW Galvatron is very season 3 at some points. He's threatened to kill astrotrain for just being there when he meets up with Arcee last year and him using combiners is fine. Yeah he hates them but if it gets the results done sure he'd use them.

Even megatron planned on killing the Constructicons/devastator once his usefulness was done in all hail megatron. Sometimes you have to do stuff you have to get the job done.

At the same time though, he has been very particular about what happens and very thoughtful and strong in his beliefs. He wanted to destroy the enigma, but is now using it. It doesn't feel like the serious and particulate Galvatron that we have had. He just didn't feel right in this issue. And the combiners just felt like they were overdoing it. Like, yes we had Optimus Maximus, but now these 2, it feels wrong, feels rushed, feels a bit too random for what Barber normally does, and that is where I feel disappointed :MAXIMAL:
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792517)
Posted by Randomhero on May 25th, 2016 @ 11:29am CDT
D-Maximus_Primal wrote:
Randomhero wrote:
D-Maximus_Primal wrote:This issue was all over the place. This did not feel like Barber. This felt like a big commercial. there really wasn't that good a storyline, and the ridiculous combining showdown in the end was just crazy. half the guys with names in the fight suddenly combined. And Galvatron, the fact that he hates combiners yet is perfectly ok with just throwing random cybertronians together just wasn't right. It wasn't his character. Scotty said it best: Galvatron felt like his season 3 fellow, not the IDW guy we've gotten used to.

MTMTE definitely beat out this comic this month, no question. This was a bit of a train wreck :MAXIMAL:



Johns IDW Galvatron is very season 3 at some points. He's threatened to kill astrotrain for just being there when he meets up with Arcee last year and him using combiners is fine. Yeah he hates them but if it gets the results done sure he'd use them.

Even megatron planned on killing the Constructicons/devastator once his usefulness was done in all hail megatron. Sometimes you have to do stuff you have to get the job done.

At the same time though, he has been very particular about what happens and very thoughtful and strong in his beliefs. He wanted to destroy the enigma, but is now using it. It doesn't feel like the serious and particulate Galvatron that we have had. He just didn't feel right in this issue. And the combiners just felt like they were overdoing it. Like, yes we had Optimus Maximus, but now these 2, it feels wrong, feels rushed, feels a bit too random for what Barber normally does, and that is where I feel disappointed :MAXIMAL:


He's also played Soundwave with the idea that be believed everything Soundwave believes in only to turn on him. Is it not possible for Galvatron to be lying when he goes on and on about how much he hates combiners?
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792518)
Posted by Randomhero on May 25th, 2016 @ 11:31am CDT
I don't think it's rushed. It's been set up since before combiner wars that black rock was using the enigmas code in everything. This is the final reveal of what that code is capable of
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792554)
Posted by ricemazter on May 25th, 2016 @ 1:59pm CDT
Gotta say, I'm not the biggest fan of Tramontano's line work. Specifically the faces of the bots that actually have mouths instead of face plates. The way she draws them is really similar to sakamoto's (that's his name right?) over in MTMTE, and its way too manga for my tastes. Probably a matter of personal preference, but still.
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792565)
Posted by Randomhero on May 25th, 2016 @ 2:22pm CDT
ricemazter wrote:Gotta say, I'm not the biggest fan of Tramontano's line work. Specifically the faces of the bots that actually have mouths instead of face plates. The way she draws them is really similar to sakamoto's (that's his name right?) over in MTMTE, and its way too manga for my tastes. Probably a matter of personal preference, but still.



I can understand that. Her art is very stylized which worked for animated RID. Much like how Marcelo Matera excelled with Animated and his G1 is decent. Very thick, very blocky dreamwave-like. The art is aright but I think maybe an inker and different colorist would have made it better.
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792616)
Posted by ricemazter on May 25th, 2016 @ 6:20pm CDT
Randomhero wrote:
ricemazter wrote:Gotta say, I'm not the biggest fan of Tramontano's line work. Specifically the faces of the bots that actually have mouths instead of face plates. The way she draws them is really similar to sakamoto's (that's his name right?) over in MTMTE, and its way too manga for my tastes. Probably a matparallel ersonal preference, but still.



I can understand that. Her art is very stylized which worked for animated RID. Much like how Marcelo Matera excelled with Animated and his G1 is decent. Very thick, very blocky dreamwave-like. The art is aright but I think maybe an inker and different colorist would have made it better.


Really I find it most noticeable in how the two artists draw faces. It's much more noticeable with sakamoto, but whenever they have to draw robot faces you can see them default to a few simple shapes. The mouths and noses are the most common. the same triangles and rectangles are used for noses while the mouths are either the same parralelagram or trapezoid. Granted Sakamoto has gotten better at this, especially when he's forced to try and mesh with Milne.

Though I would have preferred the colors to be less neon this issue. Would like a happy medium between Livio and this issue's colorist.
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792649)
Posted by Randomhero on May 25th, 2016 @ 9:16pm CDT
Personally I'd really like to see Guido come on to his series to fill in for Andrew when he takes an issue or two off. Or even Robby Musso or even EJ Su. Robby hasn't done a transformers book for IDW since Sootlight Cliffjumper and EJ, I really miss EJ on theses books.

I'm so done with Livios murky, flat, backgroundless issues where day light is a rarity and it looks like someone forgot to pay the light bill and everyone just lives in darkness and I just can't stand Sara Pitre-Durocher anymore.
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1792688)
Posted by Rodimus Prime on May 26th, 2016 @ 5:48am CDT
Yeah, I'm also finding the art a bit lacking. It just detracts from the enjoyment of the story, which itself is borderline right now. It seems to be going downhill all over. I hope they pick it up soon.
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1794909)
Posted by Va'al on June 4th, 2016 @ 2:09pm CDT
From Andrew Griffith:

Image
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1795172)
Posted by D-Maximal_Primal on June 5th, 2016 @ 8:56pm CDT
Pretty cool looking stuff. And now Sunstreaker is not only the first headmaster in IDW continuity, but the first to be a limb for more than 1 combiner (Prowl was the head/shoulders, hence the specification) :MAXIMAL:
Re: IDW The Transformers #53 Review (1796309)
Posted by o.supreme on June 9th, 2016 @ 2:16pm CDT
Dr Va'al wrote:From Andrew Griffith:

Image


Well I did call it. *sort of*, I figured Sky Lynx severe damage/repair would result in Sky Reign...I never would have seen this coming though. The designs are cool, but there are two schools of thought, and unfortunately there is no winner...

Some fans say the comics are a slave to the Hasbro Toys
Some fans say the comics aren't following the toys enough

This one really threw my head for a spin... The concepts are cool, but it is just so...random. Many of these characters don't even have current toys (coming out with Titans Return). I would love to see how some fans kit bash these, or if it is even possible/plausible.

Also...I wonder if I should be nervous about how Bruticus will me portrayed in TAAO

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