Comic Books: "Fall of Cybertron" #1 Review
Cover Price: $.99 (Digital Exclusive)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: August 15, 2012
Title: "Good Intentions"
Story by: John Barber
Art by: Dheeraj Verma
Letters by: Chris Mowry
Editor: Carlos Guzman
Cover Artwork: Dheeraj Verma
Cover Colors: Sanjay
Long ago on Cybertron, Grimlock and his Lightning Strike Coalition team are fighting to hold the line against a group of Decepticon soldiers. While they do their best to conserve fuel, their enemies do not. Grimlock decides he needs to find out just what Energon the Decepticons are drawing from. He leads his team out into the battlefield, tearing through the Decepticons using his blaster and Energon Sword!
Back at Autobot headquarters, Optimus Prime sees Grimlock's use of unauthorized levels of Energon and recalls Grimlock and his team. Grimlock is frustrated but obeys the order and the Lightning Strike Coalition heads back to Iacon. When Grimlock arrives, he is not happy about Optimus' desire to conserve Energon, but Optimus Prime sees the construction of the starship Ark as the main priority of the Autobots now. It is their last hope! Grimlock gives Optimus some data from the battlefield and then storms off.
Soon, Grimlock receives a coded message for his eyes only. When he views the transmission it's Swoop! He has discovered the source of the Decepticon's Energon reserves but before he can say the location his transmission is cut off. Grimlock knows what he has to do now: rescue his comrade!
I just finished the "Campaign Mode" on the "Fall of Cybertron" game the other day, so reading this helped add to the experience. Set before the events of the video game, this story introduces us to the "Lightning Strike Coalition" (a name borrowed from the Dreamwave era of Transformers comics) before Shockwave captured them and turned the five 'bot team into the Dinobots. While set in the current "G1-esque" continuity, this story could have been told in almost any era. The two feature characters wind up being Optimus Prime, who basically makes a cameo and Grimlock, who of course goes against Optimus Prime's wishes.
This classic tale of the rebellious Grimlock has been told in many iterations, sometimes with Grimlock being right and other times with Prime being right. In this case, if you've played the game you know Grimlock was mostly right in being suspicious of the Decepticons, but I'm curious how the events will unfold here. I'm also wondering if this small, 6 part series will take us up to the events of the game or actually cross over with it. I prefer it when Grimlock is right because I've often felt Optimus is a bit too ready to dismiss his concerns sometimes. For the most part, Grimlock is right in that Optimus' war with Megatron has been a stalemate - or if you go by the story of "Fall of Cybertron", a failure since the Autobots now have no choice but to retreat. We already know what happens to the Lightning Strike Coalition, the interesting part of this tale will be to see how they get there.
Artist Dheeraj Verma takes the art reigns for this series. His style is interesting, and (in a good way) blends some of the modern day Transformers comic art aesthetic with some elements reminscent of the Generation One comic books by Marvel. On the one hand the comic uses a lot of intricate detail with several robots, sets and weapons taken straight out of the "Fall of Cybertron" video game. It also uses the character models from the game (except for the future Dinobots, who are more variants on their final forms than anything else). The robot designs are much less blocky (except for Prime and Perceptor, who are full of right angles). Instead, they have a lot of curves and exposed wiring, making them look almost "organic" in shape (if not in substance).
On the other hand, I really like the rather worn and gritty look to the Transformers, which makes them look like machines that have been at constant war for generations. This is reminscent of the "damaged" Transformers look used heavily by Andrew Wildman during his run on the Generation One Transformers series (and that continues in the current Regeneration One title). The coloring in the issue is also a bit reminscent of G1 with a darker palette and the use of a lot of hand drawn shadows. Ultimately, the blending of the modern and retro art styles really works for the title and it looks great.
This isn't mind blowing Transformers story-telling, but given that's a video game tie in story and it's only 99 cents, it's definitely worth a read to any Transformers fan. Recommended, but I think the story has room to pick up in the next few issues.