CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers: Robots in Disguise #2
Reviewed by Red Dave Prime
Starscream and Ratbat's issue with each other obviously link back to Starscreams dislike of the Old Senate which Ratbat was a part off. Indeed it was Starscream's slaughter of the senate that led to Soundwave capturing Ratbat and making him subservient to the Decepticons.
Soundwave's vocals and face plate are still damaged (puttup!)
Starscream references deceiving Sunstreaker in All Hail Megatron when talking to Prowl.
And more references to IDW mini-series, Skywarp remembers the awful Bumblebee mini.
Just a thought: Prowl questions Arcee if she arrested Ratbat, implying that's what he wanted her to do. But how would that work exactly given that Arcee technically isn't part of the Autobot force? She really only had one choice given that she was in the Deceptiocn HQ on her own.
"Vop!" - The sound Skywarp makes when he teleports. I LOVE this!
"They are not my people Bumblebee. They are people. As are the Decepticon" - Metalhawks not a fan of all these labels.
"I was there the last time we trusted you!" - Prowl gives a good reason as to why he shouldn't listen to Starscream
"I'm not betraying anyone. I've never been on Ratbats side. I've always been on my side" - Starscreams justification for betraying Ratbat
"You're Decepti-toast. That would have been better" - No Prowl, it really wouldn't.
A much more tight focus for the second issue which isn't surprising given all the set-up of issue 1. Focusing mainly on Starscream's moment of clarity and the attempted assassination of bumblebee it's a fast moving story with good and bad points.
On the plus side, the evolution of the Starscream's character is for the most part an enjoyable journey. He is still a manipulator and still self-centered but what we get here is less an evil wannabe leader and more an ego-centered, power hungry manipulator who is starting to realise that his path is better served by his brain module rather than his null ray. And this fits quite nicely with IDW's version of Starscream as he has never been an overtly powerful warrior to rival the likes of Megatron or Overlord but he is a quick thinker. His brief leadership of the Deception army was a shambles because he approached it in the same manner Megatron did which was bound to fail as he has never been able to command the loyalty or respect of the rank and file of the Decpeticons. Now with the war put aside and a new population which has little experience if his previous actions, he sees a way to power that may not involve firing a single shot. His realisation that the truth can be used to unit others behind him is a nice contrast to the previous attempts to deceive as a way of control.
Of course, he still has that option too.
Compared to Starscream, Bumblebee is having a less well thought put evolution. While it's obvious that being an army leader at a time when there is conflict but no war is stressing out the yellow bot, his actions both this issue and last issue seem too forced. It would have made more sense if he sanctioned the actions instead of being the guy who actually executes Horri-bull and shocks a non-threatening Starscream - both times in full view of a populace he is trying to win over. You would imagine that if the NAILs didn't demand him removed from power after these actions, one of his fellow Auobots might at least pull him and aside and try and calm him down. His reactions seem to be too extreme for the character we know. Perhaps a more subtle show of aggression from the character might have worked better.
But at least he ends the issue alive. Bidding farewell this issue after his mammoth 2 issue run as commander is Ratbat. He is butchered by everyone's least favourite returning character, Arcee. It's a brutal death and very well drawn sequence, bar what I will discuss below. Looking back, I can remember feeling pretty bummed by how quickly Ratbat gets taken out but on reflection the whole thing makes sense and is quite wonderful from a comedic sense. IDW's Ratbat has no place at the head of the 'cons and its highlighted here by how much his "troops" hold him in contempt. Shockwave and Soundwave couldn't care less about him or his plans, Starscream openly walks out on him and Long Haul straight out lies about the result of the assassination attempt. All of them seem to disregard him so easily that its quite comical and I had to laugh at the panel where he returns to his quarters - he seems so blinkered to it all and his overestimation of his own value is well played. For what it's worth, it helps if you add a lisp to his voice.
And it's the assassination of Ratbat (and more importantly, the assassin) that lets this issue down. And not just because Arcee isn't held in high regard by this particular fan. It's as much down to how and why that takes away from the issue. First off, the revelation of Arcee as Prowls confidant from Issue 1 feels far too random and it comes too quickly. If you are going to have a character appear in shadow to hide their identity then the reveal should take a little time, to allow the readership to speculate. It should also make sense to the reader to some degree. She doesn't really make sense as an ally for Prowl. For starters, the two have had no contact in over 125 issues of IDW. Second, going by how Prowl views the more maverick Autobots (see Spotlight All Hail Megatron #15), Arcee seems a really unlikely ally for him to have. She is almost the opposite of what he strives to be. I'll rant about the details of the assassination itself in next issues review, but while it’s a really nice overall piece of art with a great final panel, it also includes one of the other reasons that Arcee's inclusion in this issue seems like a bad choice.
My god, she looks terrible.
Griffiths work overall is pretty decent and there are some nice panels here (I really like the page two/ three spread featuring Skywarp teleporting into a group of Deceptions, and Prowls takedown of Skywarp is also well done.) but he does struggle sometimes with faces and in Arcee, he has created a nightmarish creation. Falling somewhere between a transvestite and the exorcist, Arcee has a freakish visage which seems to suggest that IDW think the way to make a robot look feminine is to add lipstick. Its horrific, especially the grin.
One other niggle that I feel needs being brought up is the honouring of the Lost Light ceremony. Even putting aside the comedy of Starscream seemingly wandering onstage to proclaim the great news that he is to join up with 'Bee and Metalhawk, the idea that Bumblebee just assumes that all the neutrals follow and accept Metalhawk as leader is a worrying sign that all my hopes of a complex politic tale may be given over to a more simple view of choosing leadership. A sign of things to come unfortunately as already RID looks to be taking a more basic approach to the post war Cybertron.