Publisher: IDW Publishing
Words: Mairghread Scott
Pictures: Agustin Padilla and Atilio Rojo
Release Date: 30th October 2013
Let’s face it; Transformers fans have been spoiled on the comic front for the last 18 months. Used to be that Transformers fans would have to slog through issue after issue of “Pat Lee” artwork, poorly conceived character arcs and ill executed plots. Then IDW came along and slowly but surely things started to pick up, culminating in Robots In Disguise and More Than Meets The Eye, undoubtedly the best series in the franchises history. Given this modern golden age of Cybertron, how does the TV tie-in series, Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters stack up against it’s spinner rack buddies?
It’s hard to judge the series fairly. I can’t for sure say what the target audience of the series is. While the IDW universe books are aimed squarely at adult fans, this book has the unenviable task of taking place concurrently with the current iteration of the ‘bots and ‘cos TV series, Transformers Prime. As such it’d be fair to say the book should be accessible to the shows target audience: children. Considering that fact, the lack of nuance and subtlety in the story-telling becomes more acceptable. Previous issues have steered away from the main plot of the show, setting the action on the dead world of Cybertron with the Dinobots making up most of our principle cast (where-as the show is set mainly on Earth with an altogether different cast.) However, this current story arc takes place simultaneously with the show, during the episode in which Team Prime reboots Cybertrons core, albeit on the other side of the planet. It’s strange then that the issues which tie more directly to the show are in-fact the most mature issues of the series.
We have three separate plot threads in this issue, Grimlock and Swoop dealing with a flood of unrefined energon, Sludge and Slug (or as you may know him, Slag) attempting to keep an injured ex-con alive long enough to get him medical help and Snarl dealing with a near-riot of disgruntled citizens of Cybertron in Grimlocks absence. Part of my problem with this book is that each of the cast has their characteristics right there on the surface. There doesn’t appear to be much more to them than what we see. Grimlock is the angry reluctant leader, Swoop is the chatty one, Snarl is the cautious one etc and 10 years ago this would have been perfectly acceptable but due to the modern story-telling techniques that have been applied in the main IDW universe it makes this book feel weaker and more simplistic by comparison.
Agustin Padilla and Atilio Rojo draw some mean looking Dinobots. Fitting the setting of a dying Cybertron, each of the cast is noticeable scuffed and dented, reflecting the state of their environment and giving the book a more desperate tone. They seamlessly blend the aesthetics of the Transformers Prime cartoon with the Dinobots designs from the Fall of Cybertron game – a neat touch considering the game and the show are loosely set within the same canon. The compliments end there however, as choice of shots can sometimes be poor, either too close-in or too far away. Perspective is also an issue, making it hard to judge the depth of the characters within the frame. Facial expressions also suffer – years ago this would have been a minor complaint but Nicke Roche and Alex Milne have shown us that it’s possible to have Cybertronian mugs look both mechanical AND expressive without resorting the robots appearing to have liquid metal for faces.
Unfortunately I can’t in good conscience give this book anything more than a 5/10. The story works on the levels that it’s seeking to reach but we expect a lot more than something passable in our Transformers fiction now. It’s a shame, I feel like the series could have had real potential if it had stretched itself slightly further in terms of the stories it’s trying to tell. Fans of the Dinobots may find something to tickle their fancy in here, as they are all present and accounted for but outside of that I simply can’t find a good reason to read the book – although doing so certainly won’t offend the senses (unlike some other Transformers comics I can think of. I’m looking at your, Micromasters.)
The writer of this piece was: David McIntyre aka (Big Dave)
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