Comic Review: Transformers: Robots in Disguise #1

Image via IDW Publishing

The Geek Bits
Title: Transformers: Robots in Disguise
Issue #: 1
Title: The Autonomy Lesson
Price: $3.99 US
Release Date: January 25, 2012
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Written by: John Barber
Art by: Andrew Griffith
Color by: Josh Perez
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Editor: Carlos Guzman
Worth the price? Yes. Not as good as More than Meets the Eye #1, but still it’s a good starting point for those who have shied away from IDW’s offerings for quite sometime.

“Spiraling out of the literally world-changing events of the “Chaos” storyline, Transformers: Robots in Disguise (hereafter referred to as RID) is the first issue in a brand new storyline that will change the Transformers forever!”

I used that made-up line in my review for MTMTE #1, but it could have been used for RID #1 as well. However, I didn’t find RID #1 as compelling as the other series. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but MTMTE is just slightly superior.

The Synopsis

“Chaos” left Cybertron in a primordial state, teeming with Transformers who allied themselves with neither Autobot nor Decepticon. Bumblebee is trying to lead in the stead of Optimus Prime, who left the planet. As the leader, all of Cybertron’s problems are Bumblebee’s responsibility. Whether that means dealing with his own Autobot comrades, the Decepticons who are reluctantly working for him, the non-cooperative Decepticons who hate the Autobots, or the Nails (Non-Affiliated Indgenous Life-forms) who hate both sides — Bumblebee’s got his hands full. And it doesn’t help that he has few comrades willing to back him up.

The Nails seem to look up to Metalhawk, and Bumblebee wisely has the two of them welcome any new Cybertronians to the planet. Unfortunately, this backfires as Metalhawk undermines the Autobot leader by describing all the bad things that have happened, and pretty much blaming Bumblebee.

That could have gone better.

Needlenose and Horri-Bull are taking frustrations out on a Nail who decides to deface property, before Prowl shows up to stop them. He arrests all three of them, and in the process we learn that all Decepticons have Inhibitor/Deterrence chips implanted in their heads. Basically, they have bombs in their noggins. Ratbat berates Prowl for his treatment of Decepticons and then berates Needlenose and Horri-Bull for serving the Autobots. But, he has a plan.

Prowl and Bumblebee then have words where we surprisingly find out that Prowl does have emotions; he just keeps them in check to make the most logical conclusion. And that conclusion is that the Autobots are in the distinct minority when it comes to robots that Cybertronians like. Plus, he, too, assumes Ratbat is going to be trouble.

What Bumblebee doesn’t know is that Prowl has a secret confidant. He has a friend, a shadowy figure who is willing to do the things Prowl can’t or won’t do. Obviously, we don’t know who that figure is, but I bet we will at some point soon.

In a two page aside, we see Ironhide patrolling the planet, and when he returns to Wheeljack and Omega Supreme, we learn that Cybertron is changing and becoming literally defensive. One has to wonder how self-aware teh planet actually is.

Metalhawk, meanwhile, has freed the property-damaging nail, when Bumblebee rolls up. After an exchange of words, they both hear and see Horri-Bull and Needlenose attacking another Nail. Bumblebee tries diplomacy, but when that fails, he does the only thing he thinks he can.

He blows up the I/D chip in Horri-Bull’s head.

All of this is witnessed by Skywarp, who teleports away before he’s spotted.

To Be Continued

Again, this is a rambling synopsis, but just like in MTMTE #1, there are a lot of plots that need to be started, and there are only so many pages in a comic.

The Good

The writing is solid. It’s not as mind-blowingly good as MTMTE #1, but it’s a decent start. Having Bumblebee narrate is a fantastic idea. Much like Furman did with Optimus back in the Marvel G1 era, so to does James do with Bumblebee — the inner dialogue shows the frustrations, the disappointment, and the disillusionment that Bumblebee has with leadership. More to the point, it hits on a key line from his tech spec — he always is looking up to Optimus, only now it’s comparing leadership skills.

Andrew Griffith’s art is a welcome change of pace from some of the… more unique stylings we saw in the previous G1 series. It’s more of a “normal” style, in which the robots look more like the cartoon than the movie aesthetic, and it’s a change I enjoy. What can I say? I never did like the stylized necks of Transformers; this stems from Manny Galan’s weird necks from Generation 2.

I like that we have more Cybertronian vehicle modes (Bumblebee, Ironhide).

The Bad

Again, there’s nothing really bad here. It’s more of a slow burn of a story, but political theater usually is. There is some nice action at the end, with the I/D explosion in Horri-Bull’s head. Plus, we have the mystery friend of Prowl to speculate about, but that will probably not be revealed any time soon.

The Final Rewind

Again, it’s worth picking up this #1. This story may not be as action packed as MTMTE, but it will have its own brand of thrills and intrigue. It’ll be interesting to see where Autobot/Decepticon relations go from here and how the Cybertronians react to a Bumbleebee who isn’t fooling around any more.

What did you think of Transformers: Robots in Disguise #1?

  • Fantastic! Best Comic Ever! (0%, 0 Votes)
  • As good as MTMTE #1! (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Pretty good! Can't wait for the next issue. (0%, 0 Votes)
  • It was okay. I'll keep reading it. (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Eh, it wasn't great, but I'll buy the next issue to see where the storyline goes. (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Gah, horrible. DO NOT WANT. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 0

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