08 May 2018

Review: The Transformers: Punishment by John Barber and Livio Ramondelli

Comic PDF eBook, n.pag.
Published 2015 (contents: 2014)
Acquired and read September 2017
The Transformers: Punishment

Written by John Barber
Art by Livio Ramondelli
Letters by Tom B. Long

Given the plot of the book formerly known as Robots in Disguise seems to have permanently moved to Earth, I guess I'm grateful that IDW continues to update us on life on Cybetron, first with Windblade, then with the Cybertron-set single issue in First Strike, and now with Punishment: they definitely feel like their own sub-series, with the focus on Windblade and Starscream and the denizens of Drift's bar. In First Strike, Optimus Prime left Earth partway through to take care of something on Cybertron; in Punishment we see what that was, as he comes home to celebrate the anniversary of receiving the Matrix of Leadership, but ends up investigating mysterious murders in the Decepticon ghettos.

Don't go easy on him, Optimus.
from The Transformers: Punishment #4

It's okay. I like the continued exploration of an integrating postwar Transformer society on Cybertron, but the murder mystery is incredibly obvious. Like, could it be the never-before-seen* old friend of Optimus who's in the right place at the right time? What a surprise! Still, there are some nice moments between Optimus and Windblade, as she tries to come to grips with a planet emerging from a millions-year war, and Optimus tries to adjust to this brave new world. I particularly like the pair of moments above and below, where Optimus makes it seem like he suspects the Dinobots of being behind the murders. He's being deliberately misleading to draw the real culprit out (ah, that old chestnut), but as we find out, he's not exactly lying:
Always a laugh a moment with Optimus.
from The Transformers: Punishment #5

I like how this takes a heroic trait of Optimus that you could think of as naïve, and portrays it as more of a curse than a blessing, but also something Optimus can manipulate-- you don't get to lead an interstellar war for millions of years and not be as good as manipulation as Starscream or Prowl.

The art is also an above-average effort for Livio Ramondelli, with sharper linework than he usually uses and less muddy colors, well-suited to the story's vaguely noirish tone.

Next Week: Meanwhile, on Caminus... it's time for planets to collide in the Combiner Wars!

* I guess technically he'd appeared in the IDW continuity before, but not as he'd register on you if you weren't the most hardcore of fans.

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