15 November 2016

Review: The Transformers: Autocracy by Chris Metzen, Flint Dille, and Livio Ramondelli

Comic PDF eBook, n.pag.
Published 2012 (contents: 2012)
Acquired August 2014
Read June 2016
The Transformers: Autocracy

Story by Chris Metzen and Flint Dille
Art by Livio Ramondelli 
Letters by Robbie Robbins, Shawn Lee, and Chris Mowry

This is the chronologically earliest story in the IDW Transformers Humble Bundle, taking place millions of years in the past, before the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons took off-- because there had only just become such a thing as Autobots (Cybertronian cops) and Decepticons (resistance fighters). Orion Pax-- the future Optimus Prime-- is a young but passionate cop trying to defend a system that he knows isn't entirely pure, but does believe is the best hope for peace. But Megatron believes that the system can't be saved from within; only by burning it down, can something more just come into existence. But both have to contend with Zeta Prime, embodiment of the old order who will hold onto his power by any means necessary.

Megatron: "NO. JUSTICE!"
from The Transformers: Autocracy #7

It's the moments between these two characters, where they debate the right course of action, and where you see how they could have been colleagues in different circumstances, where this comic really shines. It's not sophisticated stuff, but it's brimming with potential. On the other hand, while Livio Ramondelli's art is good at light and gloom and drama, I found the action sequences incredibly difficult to follow much of the time, and most of the Autobots-- as is almost always the case in the comics-- blended together as interchangeable robots. I did really like the depiction of Hot Rod as a beleaguered leader of an oppressed community, on no side but that of his people's. This is possibly the first time Hot Rod has ever been interesting to me.

Occupy Cybertron.
from The Transformers: Autocracy #11

Of course, Megatron goes all tinpot dictator himself, and Orion discovers the long-lost Matrix and becomes Optimus Prime, and the story loses some of its nuance. But this is more interesting than I expected a Transformers comic to be, and hopefully future IDW stories build on its foundations.

Next Week: More backstory, in The Transformers Spotlight!

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