Publisher: IDW Publishing
Words: James Roberts & John Barber
Pictures: Phil Jiminez (layouts) and Andrew Griffith (finished art)
Release Date: 6th November 2013
To say IDW have published the best Transformers comics in the history of the franchise may seem like hyperbole but as any of the monthly readers will tell you – it’s a statement that is 100% justified. 18 months ago Hot Rod left his homeworld with his rag-tag crew in search of the legendary Knights of Cybertron, leaving Bumblebee to govern the newly reformatted planet while
Optimus Prime Orion Pax went on a journey through the universe to rediscover his sense of self after the end of the eons-long war. Now, here, in Dark Cybertron #1 they’re all back home – and my, how things have changed. The first crossover event since the two on-going monthly titles launched has some ridiculous hype behind it – does it stand up to expectations?
On the surface, it seems like Dark Cybertron is in risk of biting off more than it can chew. Not only does it face having to pay-off the Shockwave storyline from the Syndromica issues of RiD but it also has to tie up the Metrotitan subplot from last years Annuals and the Spotlight issues. Oh, and it’s also attempting to resolve the Ore-13 thread from Simon Furman original run on the IDW Transformers license. If it were anyone other than John Barber co-writing and editing the book I’d be worried – very worried but the man has made a name for himself as the go-to guy for fixing IDW continuity and he’s on top form here. Everything makes sense and, if I didn’t know any better I’d assume that all of IDWs Transformers comics had been leading up to this point since Infiltration #0. The characters are as nuanced as you have come to expect, no doubt helped by the presence of James Roberts co-writing the book. Garnak and Rodimus in particular share a great moment that calls back to older issues.
Phil Jiminez handles the layouts and it shows. There’s a different feel to the way the pages are constructed that’s difficult to articulate. If the regular titles are TV shows then Jiminez’s layouts make this feel like a movie. Finished art goes to Andrew Griffith, the regular artist on RiD ensures that the book still feels part of the regular series. This combination of the new with the familiar conveys the sense that this is something big – something important – a key factor in the first issue of a crossover. In particular a couple of the splash pages really raise the game; the debut of Starscreams new Armada-inspired body would make great packaging art for his new toy. It’s great fun seeing the Lost Light crew drawn by the artist of Robots in Disguise, so much so that I’d love to see Andrew Griffith handle a story arc on More Than Meets The Eye once Dark Cybertron is over.
Make no mistake, although this is a #1 it is definitely NOT a jumping on point. If you’ve only been reading one of the two ongoings then you should have enough knowledge to enjoy the story (RiD readers will fare MUCH better than those who’ve only read MTMTE) and at the very least I’d say the recent Shockpoint issues of RiD and the Spotlights are necessary reading. As such, I can’t give the book as high a score as I would like. Those with a thorough and in-depth experience of the IDW universe will be the ones who take the most out of this story but given how steeped in continuity it is I’d say it’s to the books credit that it still remains potentially enjoyable to even relatively recent Transformers readers. This comic does exactly what it should – it raises the stakes, sets-up the general premise of the storyline and makes you want to read the next issue. Thankfully, we don’t have long to wait for that as the next installment, More Than Meets The Eye #23 is out in two weeks. We’ll reviewing every issue of the crossover, so be sure to check back with us on the 19th to see if the next issue delivers on the set-up!
The writer of this piece was: David McIntyre aka (Big Dave)
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