CURRENT TRANSFORMERS COMICS FROM IDW PUBLISHING
Transformers: The Animated Movie #3 (of 4)
Reviewed by LKW
Well… ultimately, a mixed bag, this. It’s still light years better than Marvel Comics’ 1986 adaptation – for one thing, IDW’s version doesn’t depict Grimlock being captured by the Quintessons alongside Kup and Hot Rod…. And, Bob Budiansky (and/or editor Chris Ryall) does choose a very effective closing for the issue, ending with Kup’s line about the Matrix being gone: “And with it… all hope.” But… basic problems with the story begin to become more prominent – the detours on alien planets, the Autobots suddenly thinking either that the Matrix can solve their every problem or else that being attacked by some Decepticons on the Planet of Junk is their “darkest hour” - and more substantial moments from the film begin to be left out.
Don Figueroa continues to deliver attractive and generally clear work, though perhaps without any standout moments to rival those of the previous issue. Josh Burcham once again provides excellent colors, notably the yellow of the Quintessons’ ocean and its creatures, and Unicron ‘s eerie glow at the top of page 12. And Bob Budiansky continues to improve upon the film’s script in new touches of dialogue: Hot Rod gets some nice new wisecracks on pages 2-3, Kup a good one on page 17. And he gets a very useful new line on page 6, his “End of the road!” making it clear why he and Hot Rod transform back into robot mode so soon after they began to drive around the planet, and also explains that their bonds have loosened as they drop into the Sharkticon pit on page 16. This format also works well in clarifying some of Wreck-Gar’s less-intelligible dialogue. Budiansky does change the odd Wreck-Gar line, having him ask “Did Wreck-Gar hear bah-weep…” and having him give a ninety-NINE day warranty on Ultra Magnus for some reason. He also tweaks Wheelie’s dialogue (what of it he uses), giving us the improved line “Just stare over there!”
Snarl still has no dialogue, but continues to tag along with the other Dinobots. And, unlike the missed opportunity with “his armada” last issue, Bob and/or Don do avoid one confusing bit of the original movie here. Daniel now encounters Scavenger and Long Haul on the Planet of Junk, rather than Scavenger and Shrapnel-or-one-of-his-clones.
The drama of Kup and Hot Rod’s meeting with Kranix, and the latter’s execution, is captured well here, enhanced by an added line for Kup which reviews the destruction of the Moon Bases while still feeling natural. However, this is immediately followed by Wheelie meeting the Dinobots, a scene which is shortened slightly from the film, but which remains rather silly. Speaking of silliness, for better or worse, Daniel’s struggles with his exo-suit, and "the great Autobot-Junkion dance party," are casualties of space constraints (or editorial judgement) here. To fill up the space “Dare to be Stupid” took up in the film, several Autobots have new dialogue as they flee the Junkions, though none of it is particularly memorable. On the other hand, Springer’s fight with Wreck-Gar; the Autobots’ cries of “Til all are one!” Ultra Magnus’ “Open! DAMMIT, open!” and “You’re… all alive!” and any references to “King Grimlock” (among other lines); and, perhaps most significantly, the Sharkticons stopping their attack and then rebelling against the Quintessons, are all left out of this adaptation. Also, for some reason, Kranix now declares “I’m the last survivor of my planet!” leaving the name “Lithone” entirely out of this series. (Slag does still get to say a particular fan-favorite line, however.)
Overall, the issue does provide a pretty good adaptation of the animated movie, improving some bits, while also leaving a few things out. It is a marked improvement over Marvel’s version and its gigantic inaccuracies and laughably bad paragraphs of exposition from an unusually-eloquent Sludge. (Though, to be fair, Marvel’s does manage to keep the Dinobots consistently in-scale with the Sharkticons, unlike either IDW’s or the actual movie, and their version does include the Sharkticon revolution.) However, it ultimately did not feel as satisfying a read as the prior issues. The weakness of the source material may be beginning to show through more strongly while the art isn’t quite as strong, and the cuts from the movie a little more noticeable. Still a decent read, but – unless one is a sworn devotee of TF:T(A)M (and perhaps not even then, depending on how much the changes bother her/him) – not as solid of one.
At least according to Kup, the “universal greeting” is “Bah-weep-gra aagnah wheep ni-ni bong”. It doesn’t appear to have much influence on the Quintesson guards, but the Junkions seem to recognize it, or at least like it.
Daniel is given an “exo-suit” which was once used by his father. It greatly enhances his strength, and transforms into a wheeled vehicle, with its user inside.
The Junkions are scrap metal Transformers, able to rebuild both themselves and other robots. They have picked up speech patterns from Earthly TV signals.
Whatever the Autobots’ “darkest hour” is, it apparently is not Galvatron and his Decepticons attacking Ultra Magnus, as the Matrix won’t open to combat this situation.
Blurr finally speaks in this issue – letterer Robbie Robbins combines dashes with, well, overlaid gray blurs, to depict his style of speech.
IDW continues to add to the “Galvatron is/is not Megatron?” question in this issue. In the recap section of the credits page, on the inside front cover, Galvatron is called “the Decepticons’ powerful new leader resurrected from the wreckage of Megatron” – which, actually, kind of labels him as new and old at the same time. Page 12, meanwhile, describes Galvatron as “the Decepticon [Unicron] created from the wreckage of Megatron,” which would seem to lean to the “different beings” side.
This issue includes full-page ads for the Transformers: Infiltration TPB, the 20th Anniversary Movie DVD, the Transformers Spotlight series, IDW Transformers posters, various IDW Transformers TPBs, Transformers: Escalation issue #1, two Transformers Manga editions, Transformers: Generations, CSI and 24 comic books, and Hot Topics’ retro 12-inch G.I. Joe figure.
And as with previous issues, movie writer Ron Friedman, story consultant Flint Dille, and the rest of Sunbow Productions receive no acknowledgement for their creation of Transformers: The Movie.
Taking the “Brace for impact!” panel from page 4 and using it for the credits page illustration is an error in judgement, as it really isn’t all that impressive a drawing, even compared with many other panels in this issue.
Speaking of bad judgement, there’s a possible re-occurrence of Arcee’s thong on page 21, though the thick inking here helps to cover it up.
And page 18 keeps a major scaling problem from a scene in the original movie and even adds to it. The Dinobots are notably larger than the Autobots throughout this series; however, they should not dwarf the Sharkticons as greatly as they do here. Sludge chews on a Sharkticon barely larger than his dinosaur-mode head; Grimlock fits one in his mouth. Meanwhile, in the same panel, Swoop flies overhead with another Sharkticon – which is almost the size of his entire torso. The latter depiction is closer to the correct one; but together, along with the size of the Sharkticons next to Hot Rod and Kup, the result is just an inconsistent mess.