IDW Publishing "Infestation 2" #1 Comic Book Review
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: February 1, 2012
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Guido Guidi
Inks (pgs 15-22): John Wychough
Colors by: Joana Lafuente
Letters by: Chris Mowry
Edits by: Bobby Curnow
Consulting Editor: John Barber
In the year 1887 an army of sea creatures marches underground towards several bodies that have laid dormant for thousands of years. As they gather these bodies, they begin to awaken and are revealed as the Decepticon team known as the Seacons. Guiding them to their city, these creatures and the Decepticons are under the control of something ancient and evil!
One year later, the USS Mistkatonic is trying to make it through some rough weather when suddenly tentacles reach out from the sea and begin to tear the ship apart! Unbeknownst to the crew, the Autobot Ironhide had been stowed onboard as a gun emplacement and transforms to robot mode, diving into the water to investigate the source of the attack.
A week later, Tobias Muldoon and his wife Kitty are out for a late night walk with their babies when a mysterious trolley comes clanging at them. It quickly reveals itself to be the Autobot Bumblebee in a new form. Tobias and his wife are both familiar with the Autobot and even Tobias' daughter appears fascinated by the Transformer. Bumblebee explains that beings known as the "Elder Gods" have returned and threaten mankind. To stop this threat, they need a lot of energy and to reactive their leader: Optimus Prime!
Wanting to help his old friends, Tobias visits the offices of Thomas Edison but when he requests a million watts of electricity in a short time, Edison tosses him out of his offices. However, not all is lost. Nikola Tesla, one of Edison's workers offers to help Tobias no matter how mad his mission may sound.
The same day in Nova Scotia, the docks are eerily silent until the mysterious sea creatures begin to arrive en masse. Underwater, Ironhide is still investigating until he comes across Bonecrusher! The two battle but Bonecrusher quickly reveals he has become more than just a Cybertronian warrior as tentacles begin to appear form his body, taking down Ironhide in no time.
Two days later...
On the Quebec Northern Rail Line, Nikola and Tobias ride on a train made up of four cars, one with a tarp over it. When they finally arrive at the end of the line three hundred miles south of Ontario they come to a stop and Tobias finally reveals the Autobots to Nokola. Hound, Trailblazer and Ratchet stand over the humans as Tobias explains their origins and about his previous adventures with them. Nikola is not afraid and responds enthusiastically. The Autobots explain that for the rest of the way they will ride inside Wheeljack, who has taken on the form of a vehicle with large shovels in front to help get through the snow.
Later the same day at Port Cenotaph a small boat pulls up to the port to find it mysteriously quiet and dark. Suddenly they notice all the people on the port staring at them, green with eerie glowing eyes! Worse, the Decepticons Bonecrusher, Dirge and Shockwave reveal themselves, all under the control of the Elder Gods!
Elsewhere, the Autobots and humans finally reach their goal, having pushed through tons of snow. As they look down, buried in snow is the slumbering form of Earth's greatest hope: Optimus Prime!
After a few years with the "Evolutions" line of "Transformers" comics having taken a back seat to the main comic book, I was really happy to see the concept get another run. Having worked on a fan ficton of similar premise several years ago (based in England, not the United States) I was eager to see what another dip into the world of late 19th Century Transformers would bring to fans. The results are better than I had hoped for. While the original "Hearts of Steel" series focused on the war between the Autobots and Decepticons with a 19th Century backdrop - this title is under the "Infestation" banner, thus bringing in a new element into the story. Using the conceit that the "Elder Gods" of Cthulu fame have invaded this Earth before, we get an element of the supernatural to this Transformers tale, not something we have seen often in the past either on television or in print.
The use of Cthulu is very appropriate if you want a creepy, invading army of supernatural origin in a 19th Century tale. Cthulu is a supernatural character who famously has many tentacles and wings on his body created by H.P. Lovecraft. The creature is said to lay dormant in an underwater city awaiting its time to return, which is where this tale begins. I was happy to see the Decepticons being something other than creatures hell bent on conquering mankind for Energon or whatnot. Instead, this time Megatron is in parts unknown and other Decepticons are being used and mutated in the process. I do enjoy the fact that their basic personalities are still intact, as evidenced by Bonecrusher's encounter with Ironhide, but that their minds are still being controlled by something greater. Add to that their creepy transformation into partly organic, supernatural beings and I found myself fearing these Decepticons more than I would have if they were just pure Cybertronian creatures on a rampage.
Another wonderful element is the introduction of Nikola Tesla. Long dismissed as a crackpot in real world history, there is considerable support for the idea that he was in fact brilliant and had simply been shut down by a more market savvy Edison. I won't take sides on that debate, but I will say it opens up the story possibilities for the character in a fun and unexpected way. Having Tobias serve as the human intermediary to introduce Nikola to this crazy world of Autobots and Decepticons is perfect and provides continuity with "Hearts of Steel".
An interesting side note: I found it interesting that Trailbreaker is called Trailblazer here. That fits with the trademark used for the action figure released last year, but meanwhile in the main "More than meets the Eye" title he is still called his original G1 name Trailbreaker.
Overall, I think vertarn comic writer Chuck Dixon does a fantastic job of moving an "introductory" issue at a fast pace. It's almost dizzying how fast we go from day to day and place to place, but the story never gets dull. It starts off slow but picks up really quickly and I enjoyed a lot of the horror movie creepiness in the story.
Guido Guidi has delivered awesome Transformers art for years now, so you know when he's on a book you're going to get quality. I've always enjoyed the way his art skirts the line between looking like a cartoon and more traditional comic book art. His humans are the best example of this. They look like comic book art, but you could easily see them being animated (sometimes there is a fine line between the two). His Transformers always look well thought out and no nonsense. No super exaggerated features, not tons of busy live action Movie like panels everywhere. They're straightforward designs that are appealing and look powerful all at the same time.
As with any book that speculates on Transformers we know with different forms, there's some nice callbacks to previous designs and G1 itself. With Hound, Ratchet and Trailbreaker/blazer, all three have elements of their G1 forms including Hound's houlder cannon and Ratchet's crest on his head. I also dug the "1984" number on Bumblebee in vehicle form. Another interesting G1 reference is found with the sea creatures controlled by the Elder Gods. The "fish men" (or "Deep Ones" as they are known in the lore) greatly resemble the G1 Pretender shell of the character Submarauder, which had a big fin on the top of the head and a pointed, fish like head with creepy designs on it. I also found the use of the Seacons as the first "find" of the Deep Ones super appropriate and look forward to possibly seeing a 19th Century, Cthulu inspired rendition of Piranacon!
Another aspect of the art I'm very happy with in this issue is the coloring. Every single setting has a very distinctive look that fits with what you'd expect. The underwater parts are dark, mysterious and scary. The lighting of the city at night was pleasant yet had an old fashioned feel to it. The brightness of the snow scenes made perfect sense as well. Overall, a fantastic job on the art.
With exciting pacing, creepy critters and a rather unique combination of science fiction and fantasy elements, "Infestation 2" #1 reads a lot like a fan fiction mash up, and you know what? I really dig that. I wouldn't want hundreds of issues of it, but like a sweet treat, it's kind of cool to have one now and then to enjoy and this hits the spot!