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THE TRANSFORMERS: COMICS, BOOKS AND MANGA

IDW Publishing
(2005-now)
Devil's Due
(2003-2007)
Dreamwave
(2002-2004)
Club/Con
(2001-now)
Titan Books
(2001-now)
Marvel Comics
(1984-1994)
Japanese
Manga
Other Books
and Titles

CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING

Transformers: Infiltration #0
Preview issue for the ongoing series
Reviewed by Denyer

Issue Review

Our main characters are Verity Carlo and Hunter O'Nion (and yes, he isn't all that fond of his name either.) Both are fairly young without being kids, and it's from their perspective that we experience Transformers as alien, mysterious and dangerous. Hunter is a geeky conspiracy nut, driving out into the middle of the desert in hopes of finding confirmation of invading extraterrestrial robots. Verity is a petty thief with wanderlust, filching a portable computer from a salesman on a coach, unaware that someone or something is anxious to have it in their possession or keep it from prying eyes.

The story is placed firmly in the here and now: there are references to laptops and coaches having GPS; Transformers we glimpse have appropriate modern vehicle modes (close to the originals, but not anachronistic) and Decepticons seem to employ hardware similar to the short-term memory loss device seen in Men in Black. The fact we get this hint in dialogue rather than a bludgeoningly unsubtle flashback is great, and there are equally unobtrusive cameos right from the first page, in keeping with the disguise theme. Transformers are also shown to employ holographic drivers to avoid suspicion.

The script is peppered with other nice touches; when Verity is hitchhiking and Hunter picks her up, she gives a false name. Their conversation holds shades of meaning that older readers will grasp whilst kids just pass over. (Not sexual. I know my descriptions are vague; I don't want to give too much detail for prospective readers.) Basically, the dialogue is realistic, in ways humans in past series have rarely been, and makes for two likeable characters who aren't Transformers, again a somewhat unusual reaction for me to have.

Su's art is strongly grounded in realism, with occasional flourishes of manga in facial features for dramatic effect. It's a far cry from the grandstanding poster art offered by Dreamwave mainstay Pat Lee, and tells the story effectively. Characters don't suffer from the Friends-syndrome of being abnormally attractive, and thought has clearly been given to body language and use of panel arrangement and layering to lead the eye through each page. We do get one two-page splash image, but it's far from gratuitous; instead it creates the effect of a lone Decepticon with real threat and lethal intentions.

Character Development

Verity looks to be a bit younger than eighteen, tomboyish, and at least for the moment travelling alone out of a small rucksack. She's curious, plumbing Hunter for information, and is quick to proclaim on other people. Faced with danger, she either shouts or disconnects, suggesting she's a lot less tough than she tries to make it seem.

Hunter is rather reminiscent of Shaggy from Scooby Doo, although a lot more competent and his camper van doesn't make it through to the end of the issue. He doesn't seem to have many reservations about sharing his preoccupation with giant robots invading Earth, and acts quite decisively to keep himself and Verity clear of the attack run by Thundercracker.

Other Details

As mentioned, this #0 preview issue offered a sixteen page teaser story (closely related to the story in #1) for $0.99, also containing six pages of comments/interview/sketches from Chris Ryall, Simon Furman and EJ Su.

www.mechatopia.com exists at time of writing, and was set up by IDW before the issue appeared.

On the inside front cover there are two columns of character profile shots. Most are shown in silhouette, but Transformers featured in the issue or story arc to date are revealed and named.

Quotes of Note

Verity: "What are you doing?! If you're– I knew it was too good to be true! That innocent "I-wouldn't-know-what- -to-do-with-a-girl-if-I-had-one" act..."

Hunter: "Would you believe... giant robots? I run this web site, see. And it supports a theory — widely held — that two or more years ago we were invaded..."

 
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