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Old 2014-07-30, 12:38 AM   #1
Red Dave Prime
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Default Comic Review: Robots in Disguise #2 [uploaded]

24 July 2014

Robots in Disguise #2
The World and everything in it

Published Date: February 22 2012
Written by: John Barber
Art by: Andrew Griffith
Colours by: Josh Perez
Edited by: Carlos Guzman
Cover price: $3.99

Skywarp reports back to Ratbat of the demise of Horri-bull via the inhibitor chip. Ratbat seems less concerned with the loss of one of his troops and more interested in the Autobots still believing that all the Decepticons chips are still working. Content that the deception is still in place, Ratbat outlines his plan to strike at the memorial for the Lost Light. Not impressed by Ratbat's command, plan or the ex-senator's belief in his place in the creation of the Decepticons, Starscream leaves to chart his own future while Shockwave and Soundwave seem uninterested in Ratbat's grand plans. Long Haul is sent to follow Starscream.

Back at the Autobot command HQ, Metalhawk and Bumblebee continue to discuss the viability of the Lost Light memorial in light of Horri-bull's execution at the hands of the Autobots - Bumblebee no less. Sideswipe breaks the deadlock informing them that Starscream is outside. Bumblebee goes to confront him. Despite Starscream protesting that he has no ulterior motives, Bumblebee assaults the seeker with his cane - which is actually an electric shock staff. Knocked out, Starscream is taken away by a somewhat impressed Prowl.

Returned to normal status in an Autobot holding cell, Starscream informs Prowl about Ratbat's plan to assassinate Bumblebee and take over Cybretron in the ensuring panic. Prowl questions his motivations for supplying this information and Starscream explains it bluntly: Ratbat's plan will fail regardless and that Starscream's place in the Decepticon command hierarchy will be better with the former senator out of the way. Starscream merely suggests that if Prowl listens to him, at least Bumblebee won't be terminated.

Back on the streets, Skywarp and Needlenose assault Zetca, the Nail Horri-bull was attacking when he was killed. Skywarp warps off with the battered Zetca.

Starscream joins the crowd at the memorial, realising quickly that Long Haul is badly tailing him. As the two 'cons look on, Bumblebee takes to the stage flanked by Metalhawk, Wheeljack and Ironhide. As he works his way through his eulogy, Skywarp teleports into a nearby with Zetca and an impressive sniper rifle. Before he can execute the Autobot commander, Prowl attacks and eventually subdues Skywarp with twin electro-shock sticks. Surveying the scene, Prowl radios his unknown accomplice to proceed with an agreed plan. Meanwhile on stage, Bumblebee and Metalhawk agree to work together representing both the Autobots and the Neutrals.

Back in the crowd, Long Haul remarks that the plan has failed as Bumblebee should be dead by know. Not knowing what to report to Commander Ratbat, Starscream suggests that Long Haul simply lie to Ratbat and to let him have his moment.

Happy with the false information, Ratbat orders his troops to prepare for their final battle with the Autobots this very night. He goes to prepare in his own private chamber only to be attacked by twin-energon sword wielding Arcee. She slices his legs and left wing off quickly, before pinning him to the wall. Finally she stabs him through his spark core, leaving his dead body hanging.

Returning to Prowl she confirms that Ratbat has been taken out, somewhat sarcastically agreeing that he refused arrest. As they focus on the stage, Starscream unexpectedly joins 'Bee and Metalhawk, agreeing to join them in helping Cybertron heal itself and its people.

Characters (in rough order of appearance) Zetca, Horri-Bull, Needlenose, Bumblebee, Metalhawk, Skywarp, Starscream, Bombshell, Soundwave, Ravage, Ratbat, Shockwave, Bonecrusher, Long Haul, Sideswipe, Prowl, Wheeljack, Ironhide, Mixmaster, Arcee

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.

Quote / Unquote
"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 itís 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.

Rating: 3 energon cubes out of 5

Last edited by Blackjack; 2014-08-03 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 2014-07-30, 05:52 AM   #2
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I absolutely hate that they used the War for Cybertron game designs for a lot of the characters -- Sideswipe, Soundwave and Prowl look okay, but I dislike Bumblebee, Starscream/Skywarp and especially Arcee with a passion. Good lord, that design. I've recently been skimming through the Furman stuff and while she looks psychotic there at least she doesn't look like, well... this.

Personally not a fan of Ratbat being introduced just to be killed off. I do agree that IDW Ratbat has done jack shit, though, but he was a personal favourite of mine in the Marvel comics as a totally left-field choice for a Decepticon leader.

Yeah, Bumblebee's kind of shit here, isn't he? Poor little dude has been on a downward spiral ever since Costa made him leader, with no one really knowing what exactly to do with him and jerking his characterization all over the place. Starscream had initially seemed a little odd to me when I first read it but he feels so much more in character -- just a little badly paced.

I don't get why Prowl is working with Arcee as well. There is the matter of plausible deniability, of course -- 'oh, she's not an Autobot and I don't know her!' -- but why would she put so much stock in Arcee when in the past she had been shown to be this... psychobitch

(Skywarp is awesome)

(Prowl is also awesome)

Shockwave and Soundwave are just all 'oh ho ho we are ominous people with grander plans' aren't they.

Still, it's not a bad read, Bumblebee and Arcee aside. I may be a little off-base considering I've slogged through a couple of Regeneration One issues recently, but this feels like a far more solid thing than how I remembered it.
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Old 2014-07-30, 03:52 PM   #3
Red Dave Prime
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I've found RID not as bad as I remember but that being said, we havent hit the real eye rolling bits yet . Curious you mention as well how reading Regen One makes RID look better as I'm pretty sure someone posted on the forum that reading RID without also reading MTMTE the same month allows you to take RID on its own merits. Issue 3 should be done by tonight and then I'm level with both series which is nice. Should be able to mention one issue of each a week, although I'm not going to stand by that if I dont
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Old 2014-07-30, 04:26 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Red Dave Prime View Post
I've found RID not as bad as I remember but that being said, we havent hit the real eye rolling bits yet .
Nope, no we haven't. Back when I was reading these parts of RID they felt 'come on, go away uninteresting people' but generally found the issues inoffensive.

Curious you mention as well how reading Regen One makes RID look better
The thing is, Regeneration One is supposed to be the continuation of Marvel US disregarding all the stuff that actually accompanied it (Marvel UK and Generation 2, Furman's own most remembered works). It would be comparable to, say, twenty years later in the future Furman does a 'Revelation One', disregards all the Spotlights and every other thing that came after Revelations, but what he does is basically a more poorly-written variation of the stuff that he disregards, bringing back characters that die well (Scorponok in Regenone, say, Nightbeat in IDW) and have them act as the polar opposite of what made them interesting, bringing back villains that are done and dusted (Megatron, Shockwave and Starscream in Regenone, say, Nova Prime and Jhiaxus in IDW... though IDW did that themselves), reintroducing a villain he supposedly disregards and has him act the same, only less interesting (Jhiaxus in RegenOne, say Overlord in IDW) and generally just bullshitting around while borrowing plot points from other stuff he did -- say the Movie comics.

And it's drawn with poop art and dialogue that's basically the same things repeated over and over again, and has a bunch of random bad continuity errors. It's just pretty bad fanfic. Some parts are entertaining but the general premise of the plots are pretty grating because other than the soup of random stuff from Furman's IDW run that doesn't jive with Marvel continuity... we've seen it all already before. And better.

It's not an exact terminology because it's like 1 a.m. here and I'm not thinking straight, but that's what it is.

I'm pretty sure someone posted on the forum that reading RID without also reading MTMTE the same month allows you to take RID on its own merits.
Yeah, MTMTE kind of smacks RID down to the floor. I mean, it's still the inferior title but it's not as bad as I remember.

Though I doubt I'll feel that way when we get to Provestator and all the random 'pew pew Decepticons die' in that arc.

(Still pissed about Ratbat though)

Should be able to mention one issue of each a week, although I'm not going to stand by that if I dont
Wasn't I supposed to do the Livio RID stuff? Or was it the MTMTE Scavengers one? I remembered we having a deal for me to do one of the 'side stories' of one of the titles but for the love of me I cannot remember which we agreed on.
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