Transformers: Movie Adaptation, Movie Prequel (IDW Publishing)

tf_adapt_headerThe classic story of boy meets girl, boy and girl meet truck that is actually a sentient, giant robot, and all three fight to save the world is once again retold in these two trade paperbacks, based around this summer's Transformers film.

 

 

Transformers: Movie Prequel

120 pages FC; $19.99

(W: Simon Furman/Chris Ryall, A: Don Figueroa)

 

Transformers: Movie Adaptation

104 pages FC; $17.99

(W: Kris Oprisko A: Alex Milne)

 

 

Comic adaptations of movies almost always pale in comparison to their widescreen counterparts, despite how well a cinematic quality lends itself to the graphic novel format. It seems like Kris Oprisko and Alex Milne have done a relatively decent job of transferring a big-screen story into a little-page format. In fact, there are a few panels of the adaptation that are recognizably lifted directly from the trailer; I have to imagine I'll see more similarities once I go see the movie.

 

Simon Furman, Chris Ryall, and Don Figueroa's prequel is quite cinematic as well, but Figueroa's panel layouts are much less creative than in the official movie adaptation. In the prequel, every scene is rigidly defined in the predictable series of rectangles. Milne's layout in the adaptation often breaks these boundaries, giving it a much more fluid feel.

 

Oprisko's adaptation is pretty obviously based on the script of the movie (as it should be). It's too bad that the script is so formulaic; it doesn't seem like Milne had much to work with. Longtime Transformers comics scribe Furman and his cohort Ryall's story, on the other hand, makes it clear that they had a bit more breathing room. The bare-bone basics behind the movie's premise are fleshed out quite nicely.

 

In both books, unfortunately, the art leaves a bit to be desired. The action scenes are often awfully hard to follow, especially considering that action is supposed to be the focus of the story. Figueroa's strong point in the prequel clearly is drawing the complex and somewhat emotionless Transformers; having drawn many an issue of Dreamwave's line of Transformers comics, he's had plenty of practice. When it comes to the human characters, he seems to draw from about five or six facial expressions that he applies to everyone. Milne, on the other hand, has people down pat, but there are some minor, yet noticeable inconsistencies with how he draws the robots. Both artists are perfectly serviceable, but the books may have suffered from both of them having to tackle penciling and inking duties without any assistance.  

 

The design of the robots is clearly influenced by Japanese ‘giant robot' manga and the like; Megatron looks much more like a refugee from Gundam or Robotech than the bullet-headed master of malevolence we're familiar with. In fact, the character designs of most of the Transformers in these books look so similar to each other that it's hard to distinguish them from one another, especially in the battle scenes. Optimus Prime's distinctive look is somewhat preserved, but no one else really evokes the classic looks of their "Generation One" equivalents. This, of course, isn't necessarily the fault of the comic creators; it remains to be seen if the designs will have similar effects on how the movie plays.

 

Die-hard TransFans will find some things to like in these two books, but an awful lot to dislike, as well. I would advise picking up IDW's or Dreamwave's classic Transformers series before these two trades, but they are a worthy addition to a fanatic's collection, especially if the movie turns out to be good. | Jared Vandergriff

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