21 March 2017

Review: The Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Volume 3 by John Barber, et al.

Comic PDF eBook, n.pag.
Published 2013 (contents: 2012)
Acquired March 2015
Read February 2017
The Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Volume 3

Written by John Barber
Art by Livio Ramondelli, Brendan Cahill, Guido Guidi
Additional Inks by John Wycough
Colors by Joana Lafuente, Guido Guidi, Priscilla Tramontano
Letters by Shawn Lee, Chris Mowry

In comparison to More than Meets the Eye, any comic book is going to come up inferior, but even trying to step outside of that, I don't think Robots in Disguise lands as well as it ought to. It hovers somewhere between mediocre and good, with occasional flashes of brilliance. At least part of the problem is the feeling that there's some filler here, that not enough of the book is dealing with the problem of postwar Cybertron, which is ostensibly its whole reason for existing. The first story here is another adventure of Orion Pax, the second and third are set on Cybertron, but the second is about 50% flashbacks to the early days of Cybertron, long before Optimus Prime and Megatron.

The flashbacks are actually pretty entertaining; I love how John Barber and Gudio Guidi emulate the style of Marvel's early Transformers comics:
In the distant past, apparently Cybertronians spoke Exposition.
from The Transformers: Robots in Disguise Annual 2012 (art by Guido Guidi)
...but what do they have to do with anything, beyond providing some backstory? Amusing and interesting, but seemingly distracting.

That said, when these comics hit, they hit well. The moment where the Metrotitan reactivates and speaks to Starscream about his destiny genuinely gave me shivers:
from The Transformers: Robots in Disguise Annual 2012 (art by Brendan Cahill)

And the last-page revelation has lots of promise, too. I also like the power struggle within the Decepticon ranks, as we start to realize that Shockwave is up to more than we thought. (And recent revelations about Shockwave in More than Meets the Eye have me more interested in him than I was before.)

On the other hand, isn't Starscream a little too nakedly mercenary for the supposed smooth political operator he's supposed to be? Like he's openly disdainful of Autobot lives when talking to Metalhawk, who is his greatest political ally. Or, if Prowl thinks the Decepticons are a threat and he's so ruthless, how come he waits until Starscream tells him something to wipe them out, since he's apparently capable of it all along? It's things like this that stop this comic from being as good as it should be. Like the previous volume of Robots in Disguise, I enjoyed this because it felt like set-up for something good, but I hope the something good turns up soon.

C'mon, Metalhawk, dude is trying on crowns and the election hasn't even been called yet. And c'mon, Starscream, maybe you should notice that he notices!
from The Transformers: Robots in Disguise vol. 1 #11 (art by Guido Guidi)
Next Week: Meanwhile, in space... it's time for Transformers tragedy in More than Meets the Eye!

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