02 May 2017

Review: The Transformers: Dark Cybertron, Volume 1 by John Barber, James Roberts, et al.

Comic PDF eBook, n.pag.
Published 2014 (contents: 2013-14)
Acquired March 2015
Read April 2017
The Transformers: Dark Cybertron, Volume 1

Written by: John Barber and James Roberts
Art by: Brendan Cahill, Phil Jimenez, Andrew Griffith, Atilio Rojo, James Raiz, Livio Ramondelli, Nick Roche, and Robert Gill
Colors by: J. P. Bove, Josh Perez, Livio Ramondelli, and Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Letters by: Tom B. Long and Gilberto Lazcazno

Between Dark Prelude and the potential frisson of two series I enjoy meeting up, I was really looking forward to Dark Cybertron. But six issues in, and it hasn't really gone very far. The two casts haven't even really met yet, except that Orion Pax, normally a recurring in Robots in Disguise, has gone off on an away mission with a couple characters from More than Meets the Eye. Oh, and I guess the completely nondescript friends of Orion are temporarily in the crew of the Lost Light. But most of the Robots in Disguise characters are still doing their own thing on Cybertron, while the More than Meets the Eye characters are off doing their own thing out in space. (All three groups are, of course, responding to actions initiated by Shockwave in the previous volume of Robots in Disguise, but exactly how what's going on in More than Meets the Eye links in hasn't yet been made clear.)

Worse than that, the story has the feel of one artificially stretched out to twelve issues, instead of a story so big it needed twelve issues to be told. Shockwave reanimates a dead Titan and... then it just stands around in the wilderness a lot while Autobots and Decepticons shoot at it, but don't really get anywhere. Orion, Rodimus, Cyclonus, and the other characters in the Dead Universe move through it looking for Shockwave... very slowly... The Lost Light crew doesn't even appear in some issues! In the last two issues, things start happening, but it sure took a long time for those things to come along. It doesn't help that some of the many artists are poor at choreographing action when it does happen. (Or that Starscream and Bumblebee have radically new head designs that are just wrong.)

Like, how can you take a guy whose whole shtick is being yellow and give him a blue head? Also Prowl is awful mean given most of Bumblebee's leadership "failures" were his fault.
from The Transformers: Robots in Disguise vol. 1 #23 (art by Atilio Rojo)

It has it moments. The clash between Orion's staid crew and the Lost Light losers is of course good fun:
The ringtone is actually shown in use in volume 2.
from The Transformers: Dark Cybertron #1 (art by Phil Jimenez & Andrew Griffith)

Or that fact that Rodimus has a ship that looks like his head (why? no one ever explains this), or the Lost Light crew going on a mission inside the body of a giant Titan, or some of the grace notes of the characterization of Arcee and the Dinobots and such (which Barber is always good at). But mostly this feels like six issues of build-up and gratuitous action; hopefully volume 2 pulls it together in a way that makes volume 1 retroactively more compelling.

Next Week: More darkness! More Cybertron! Volume 2!

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