Transformers #1/Transformers: Continuum (IDW Publishing)

tf_header.jpgFive years in, IDW finally kicks off an ongoing Transformers series, along with a special catch-up issue for those who haven’t been along for the ride.

 

Transformers #1 (IDW Publishing)

32 pgs. full color; $3.99

(W: Mike Costa; A: Don Figueroa)

 

Transformers: Continuum (IDW Publishing)

32 pgs. full color; $3.99

(W: Andy Schmidt; A: various)

 

How time flies: it’s already been five years since IDW started publishing Transformers comics, picking up the ball after Pat Lee’s Dreamwave Productions fumbled into bankruptcy. After 72 issues’ worth of miniseries and one-shots, the company finally decided they were ready to go the ongoing series route with the launch of Transformers #1 in November.

If, like your reviewer, you haven’t kept up on the latest adventures of Cybertron’s favorite sons, IDW has supplied your catch-up in the form of Transformers: Continuum. Written by editor Andy Schmidt, Continuum pairs isolated panels of artwork from various Transformers comics with narration that summarizes the entire IDW Transformers saga to date in language that’s alternately overdramatic and dryly matter-of-fact, along with a reading chronology of all of the Transformers comics published by IDW to date. It’s pretty much a Transformers version of the various "Saga" promotional one-shots that Marvel regularly publishes, with the notable exception that it’s $3.99 and not, y’know, free. Continuum isn’t exactly stirring reading, but it is a wealth of information, and a definite bargain when the alternative is about $200 worth of trade paperbacks.

Fortunately, writer Mike Costa doesn’t make Continuum, or the continuity it represents, required reading for Transformers #1, using an effective shorthand to summarize everything you need to know. It’s a good thing, too, as the mythology IDW has cooked up differs from every other Transformers continuity–the original cartoons, the current movie franchise, even comics from previous publishers–in even the most fundamental of ways.

Long story short, the Autobots finally beat the Decepticons, but at a terrible price: they lost the trust of humanity. Now the humans want nothing more than to get every Transformer, good or bad, off the face of the earth, and the Autobots have been living in hiding as they quietly protect the Earth from the last few Decepticon stragglers. When stalwart Autobot Prowl sees the humans about to kill off a Decepticon, he blows his cover and gets himself captured by the multi-national anti-robot strike force Skywatch, led by Spike Witwicky (who in other continuities is a teen on the Autobots’ side, but here is an adult military bad-ass). Hothead Hot Rod leads a clandestine assault on the human stronghold to spring Prowl, but the battle takes a bad turn, leading to a shocking death and an even more shocking decision by one Autobot. And there, ladies and gents, is the springboard to our ongoing plot.

Leaving its drastic change from previous continuity aside, the whole X-Men-esque "fight to protect a world that hates and fears them" angle isn’t a bad direction for the franchise to go in–it certainly gives Costa a chance to play up the whole "robots in disguise" aspect of the series. The book reads well in an action movie sort of way: Costa’s script is good at moving the plot along but his dialogue lacks personality. It’s a little early to fully judge, but at this point the Autobots all read like archetypes rather than fully fledged characters. Artist Don Figueroa is no stranger to the Transformers and does his usual bang-up job of packing the pages with big, bulky robots without ever scrimping on the little mechanical details. He doesn’t get a lot to play with in this first issue, but what little action that is here is captured well, especially the two-page spread that re-imagines the entire Autobot/Decepticon war in an epic fight scene featuring over two dozen robots. If he keeps up that kind of pace, robot fans will have few complaints. | Jason Green

 

To learn more about any of these titles, visit www.idwpublishing.com.

 

 

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