CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers: Robots in Disguise #3
Reviewed by Red Dave Prime
Barrel Roll is, of course, isn't one of the original five Aerialbots. He was originally a Minicon although not expressly part of the Armada / Energon universe.
Dirge's gripe with the Autobots and Decepticons comes from the events in All Hail Megatron where he and Deluge were stranded with Autobot prisoners on an Insecticon-filled Cybertron. It's implied that Deluge didn't survive the event.
Thrust's death at the hands of Humans in All Hail Megatron #16 is confirmed. Oddly the Wiki mentions the death occurring in Spotlight: Prowl but the only mention there is of a red and black jet where as in AHM #16 we specifically see Thrust (and he is in pretty bad shape).
Ramjet's death at the hands of Megatron is also alluded to (see Spotlight: Ramjet)
The missing moon of Cybertron is Luna 1 and its disappearance was first brought up in MTMTE #1. It will be found in MTMTE #18.
"Don’t get me started on King Bee and this hunk of rust he calls a city. Cities have infrastructure" - Wheeljack bemoans the shambles of a city that all the transformers are living in.
"Why assume it was a Decepticon?"
"Gee Metalhawk, every event of every day of the last six million years mostly" - Metalhawk asks a silly question, Gets a Prowl slap in the face.
"There hasn't been a disaster like this for as long as I can remember. What have you done to our world?" - Metalhawks observation may have made more impact if we didn't already know about Thunderwing, the many different Decepticon attacks and Chaos. Nine casualties does not seem that big set against many of those events
"I remember you. You - You kicked me." - If he was a Beast Wars character, Dirge would be an elephant
"I have no idea what you're saying." - Starscream may be many thinks, but a scientist he isn't.
"We fought his kind for years and this is the reward you give us? A planet that’s trying to kill us - and Decepticons at our side?" - Silverbolt is not happy with the new order of things.
It's funny reviewing a comic where you can see so many little faults with what's going on, but yet still enjoy the main story running through it. This is one such comic. RID #3 contains some terrible character moments, awful dialogue (mostly contained within the audio of Metalhawk) and forced actions but I still like the overall simplicity of Wheeljack having a problem - and fixing it. In this case it’s the surrounding, over-arching plot lines that irritate and not because they're particularly bad but because they feel a bit too forced. Much like some of the off-beat character moments from last issue, this issue has one or two moments which just seem too unlikely.
As I said in the last review, I would leave comments on Ratbat's assassination at the hands of Arcee to this issue and the main reason is that this issue features the Autobot explanation and the reaction of the Decepticons. And it’s a bit of a mess. Ratbat was found pinned to the wall by an energon sword. He was discovered by a fellow Decepticon. There is simply no way at all that this could be painted as a suicide. If Prowl wants to cover up what happened there is no way that Mr. Logic would pick the least likely answer. He could have gone with an outside neutral wanting vengeance for the treatment of fellow neutrals at the hands of the Decepticons. He could have gone with a fellow Decepticon making a power play. But instead he picks the least plausible scenario possible when dealing with a one winged bat pinned to the wall. It must be suicide!
The thing is, it's never clear what he is covering up. He never gave Arcee an order to kill (in fact last issue he seemed specific on trying to arrest Ratbat as opposed to killing him). Arcee isn't an Autobot. And no-one else knows Arcee is there (she isn't seen at the crime and seems to be in hiding). So why the lie? I'm guessing it's because Barber wants the Decepticons to feel that they are being repressed and lied to which allows Metalhawk to see things from their side. But it doesn't work and feels forced.
Ah, Metalhawk. Ok, We get that he represents the suspicious side of the returning Cybertronians and that they feel that both sides were as equally responsible for what happened to cause the exodus and the damage to Cybertron. But his character simply doesn't hold up. It's inconceivable that this self-appointed leader wouldn't check up on some history since he has left. He complains about the state of the planet but in reality Cybertron's main damage was done by the destruction of the Toraxxis refinery (Decepticon), Thunderwing (Decepticon), the Swarm (Decepticon) and the Decepti-god (Decepticon - more or less). This kind of blinkered view feels, once again, forced. Barber wants a character to make a certain stance but can't come up with a realistic reason to establish that. Metalhawk, who is a pretty miserable character so far anyway, is playing the role normally assigned to humans - that of being an observer of Autobots and Decepticons and yet can only come to the conclusion that ALL robots are equally bad. It doesn't work with Human characters and it doesn't work with Metalhawk (or the other neutrals for that matter). Things aren't helped by Metalhawk's comments - claiming that the nine fatalities are anywhere in the same league as Zeta Prime's Omega Destructors and the Vamparc Cannon, the destruction of Nyon by Hot Rod and the Toraxxis tragedy is clearly off - and Metalhawk was there for all of these events. One final niggle in all this - Metalhawk is basing his displeasure of the Autobots mostly on what they were before Optimus and how they failed they end the war in the initial rise of the Decpticons. Six million years pass and that’s his basis for his current antagonism.
Ok, so after all that complaining, you may be wondering why I do still like this issue. There's three reasons. The first is the plot. As I said, it's simple enough but it's still interesting as the cause of the explosions isn't immediately obvious but the reveal makes sense as does the solution. That’s a little achievement in sci-fi these days to be honest. I also like how as a plot it's started and ended in the same issue with the ongoing issues carrying along the bigger picture (even if I don't have much love for them). It's something that both RID and MTMTE bring to the table which is new to the IDW run. Stories aren't now based around a 6 part run which can be wrapped up in a TPB as we saw during Furman and McCarthy's runs. We had a few glimpses of the stand-alone issues in Costa's run and it's no surprise that they were the best issues he did.
Another great part of this issue is the interplay between Wheeljack and Starscream. It's well done, it evolves both characters with Starscream backing up his changed stance from last issue and Wheeljack accepting of his mortal enemy and possibly appreciating someone else finding a solution to a problem. Both characters are engaging and interesting and should be the stars going forward. Dirge is also given a little bit of a spotlight and shines in a manner that only Dirge can. He is so far more sympathetic than any of the poor NAILs. Bumblebee calms down a bit from the psycho vibes of the last two issues and mostly plays as a good counter to Prowl. Silverbolt sadly seems to have taken on 'Bee's psycho tendencies and his flipping out to get at Dirge, coupled with his reaction at the end is perhaps a little overplayed. As for Barrel Roll, we knew he was dead once he identified himself as the only Aerialbot who wouldn’t form part of Superion.
Finally, I have to give kudos to the art. I may not be a fan of Griffiths faces in general but he has some really nice artwork in this issue and its helped a lot by Josh Perez's colours. They help bring a vibrancy and clarity to the overall issue meaning that crowd issues never look too cluttered and stand out moments do what they should. The initial bomb blast and the missiles engaging the energy pulse are both excellent (save for Arcees horror visage appearing in a little circle, just to annoy me it would seem). And while Arcee's face is still the stuff of nightmares, Griffiths does well with Wheeljack. Given that he only has two eyes to work with, he gets a good bit of expression from the Autobot. I also dig the chunky design of Wheeljack - it doesn't suit Starscream but on many of the Autobots it works well. One final bit of love for my Wheeljack art love-in is Cover A (also by Griffith) It's lovely and I was always annoyed that I got the somewhat lesser Casey Coller Starscream one, which is still good but not as endearing as Griffiths.
So three issues in and Robots in Disguise has been a somewhat pleasant surprise. Problems aside, they've been three decent enough issues and I really like parts of Issue one and three. Next up though is a big one as a seed will be planted that will cast a shadow over the next year and more of RID.