11 April 2017

Review: The Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Volume 4 by John Barber, Andrew Griffith, et al.

Up now at Unreality SF: my take on the most recent UNIT audio set from Big Finish, the return of the Silence in Silenced!

Comic PDF eBook, n.pag.
Published 2013 (contents: 2012-13)
Acquired March 2015
Read March 2017
The Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Volume 4

Written by John Barber
Pencils by Andrew Griffith
Inks by Andew Griffith and Brian Shearer
Ink Assist by Rick Ketcham
Colors by Josh Perez
Letters by Shawn Lee and Chris Mowry


It's maybe not quite like that, but John Barber totally upends the situation on Cybertron by returning Megatron to Iacon, disrupting the carefully calibrated peace between Autobots, Decepticons, and neutrals, as Megatron not only mobilizes the Decepticon remnants, but reveals that much of what had been happening since the beginning of the series was actually his own doing, down to the fact that he had a key Autobot under mind control as far back as volume 1! Iacon suddenly goes from a city under Autobot rule to one besieged, as the Decepticons move across the city in the night, the Autobot forces are scattered and leaderless, and Starscream insists that he could have won through democracy but Megatron messed it all up.

Don't ask, Bumblebee.
from The Transformers: Robots in Disguise vol. 1 #14 (art by Andrew Griffith & Brian Shearer)

It's the most compelling Robots in Disguise has been thus far, building on hints Barber has been dropping all along, large and small-- thank Primus for the Transformers wiki and its careful unearthing of minute details. Some of the book is still a little underwhelming: I think this is because Barber's twists and reveals are often less character-based than James Roberts's over in More than Meets the Eye, relying heavily on technology. For example, Megatron tells us that the space bridge technology in his old body allowed him to manipulate the energies of the reborn primordial Cybertron, causing the madness outside Iacon. Well, um, okay, sure, why not? As an answer to an ongoing mystery, it's not exactly satisfying. The mind-control reveal is also a bit meh, I think, as it doesn't actually tell us anything about the character in question. (Well, I guess it does tell us he's not as bad as he seemed.) And there's a key moment that really relies on you knowing about the attitudes of multiple characters toward Spike Witwicky from the previous ongoing... which I only read the first volume of...

These guys mostly just put in small, periodic appearances-- I hope we see more of them because they're awesome.
from The Transformers: Robots in Disguise vol. 1 #12 (art by Andrew Griffith)

That said, there's good stuff here. I like the growing group of former Autobots and Decepticons who feel they have more in common with the neutrals. I like how Wheeljack manages to save the day retroactively with a nice callback to an earlier issue.

Two issues of Megatron not talking turns out to be Megatron at his most unsettling.
from The Transformers: Robots in Disguise vol. 1 #13 (art by Andrew Griffith)

And best of all is the developing friendship between Metalhawk, leader of the neutrals, and Starscream, the Decepticon Who Would Be King. At one point I gasped aloud. Very enjoyable stuff-- I spent volumes 1-3 feeling like Barber was continuously setting up, and here he finally pays off, and it's definitely worth the wait. I look forward to seeing where Robots in Disguise goes more than ever.

Next Week: Meanwhile, in space... the Lost Light finally gets somewhere on its quest in More than Meets the Eye! Well, kinda.

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