IDW Publishing "Infiltration" #2

in 2005, Comic Book Review

IDW Publishing

General Information:
Cover Price: $2.95 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Written by: Simon Furman
Art by: EJ Su
Colors by: John Rauch
Letters by: Tom B. Long
Edits by: Chris Ryall & Dan Taylor


Cover A Cover B Cover C Cover D
Incentive Cover A Incentive Cover B Incentive Cover C

Synopsis:
Jimmy's garage is in ruins, and the Decepticon Battlechargers Runamuck and Runabout have converted into full robot modes in plain view - a breach of the protocol long held by both factions in the Transformers war. Ratchet quickly takes action and temporarily disables both Decepticons. However, he is forced to transform in the process, and the proverbial cat is out of the bag. Ratchet realizes the war has been exposed for good now and that the world is about to change - a lot. The human trio quickly gets into Ratchet and they speed off.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, several policemen have found a dead body in the desert. It is the businessman whom Verity stole the computer from! One of the cops reports to an unknown figure in an ominous looking room with only one identifier, the letter "M" hanging over a view of the globe!

Back in California, Thundercracker has resumed his pursuit of Ratchet. Runamuck and Runabout quickly join the fray, knocking aside cars to get to the Autobot. Ratchet explains that this is extremely out of the ordinary, and that the stakes in the war must be getting higher if the Decepticons are so willing to expose themselves.

In Oregon, Blitzwing reports that an ore the Decepticons have mined is pure and thus the Decepticons can begin their plans. Starscream is relieved to hear this as he can now begin his master plan.

Elsewhere, the chase continues as Ratchet manages to dupe the Battlechargers into losing a game of chicken with a large truck. This causes the two to crash, and buys the humans a temporary respite. Verity begins to lose control and Ratchet stops to let her get some air. Jimmy talks to her and manages to help her get herself back together in time for the group to take off again, this time with Thundercracker in hot pursuit.

Help comes soon however as the trio of Ironhide, Prowl and Sunstreaker appear on the horizon. The trio waits until Thundercracker is in range, and uses the combination of their weapons to send the Decepticon scrambling away heavily damaged. When the three transform, their weapons are aimed at Ratchet! Prowl informs him that he has violated several aspects of the Autobot code - but Ratchet's concern is much more immediate - a Decepticon base right where they stand!

To Be Continued...

Story:
The first two issues of this series have really perpetuated a slow burn approach to telling the tale of the Transformers. The story of the Transformers has been told many times in the past, and almost every time by the third issue of a series there would have been one or two grand battles with well over a dozen Transformers running around already. By sharp contrast, this issue has very little robot versus robot battling, opting for more of the road battling we saw last issue, albeit in a much more spectacular manner.

I am very used to Ratchet's comic book profile being that of a pacifist forced into a war. However, writer Simon Furman has taken the character in a different direction. This Ratchet does not hesitate to
fight, and he does it well. While we know Ratchet is hardly the most powerful Transformer out there, he holds his own against two maniacal Decepticon warriors. Ultimately he is doing what he feels right: protecting life.

The reaction of the humans works very well here. Verity's freak out is perfect. She was the most reluctant to accept the entire Transformers story, and for her to lose her cool makes complete sense. It is also a wonderful character
moment since she is always trying to keep a calm demeanor. It shows that underneath her controlled exterior is just a young woman trying to survive in a crazy world.

The human factor becomes more critical in this tale as we see humans are somehow in league with the Decepticons. My speculation is that a certain group of humans has been promised power
in exchange for helping the Decepticons. It is a theme that has been used in past Transformers stories, but not often. And the rather conspiratal nature of this group is something more akin to something that people would find on "The X-Files" than a Transformers tale, and as a fan of that show I appreciate that.

It was cool to finally get to see other Autobots in action. And in the matter of one panel, we get to see that Prowl and Ratchet do not necesarily agree on things in this continuity. Prowl rattling off all the various codes Ratchet has violated indicates that the Autobots have been at this type of mission for a very long time. This adds new layers to the story arc as well as the interplay between Autobots.

Artwork:

While previous issues have had brief bits of action, this is the first issue with consistant action throughout the issue. E.J. Su shows off his mechanical training background again in the beautiful drawings of the interior of the Battlechargers when they convert to vehicular battle mode as well as the inside of Ratchet's robot arm when he fires his arm cannon.

This is our first real look at a lot of Transformers in robot mode. Ironhide's form mirrors Ratchet's in many ways, which is hardly surprising. Prowl's robot mode is very close to his G1 form, just with slightly different car chasis parts. Sunstreaker's form is the one I found most interesting. Although he is clearly a variant on a Lamborghini, it is modified just enough to avoid being identified as one. His robot form however is partly based on how he appears in his Alternators incarnation, with the windshield piece on his chest. I appreciated the touch of having his left hand be a missile launcher/weapon, paying homage to his classic G1 form.

Su also uses some G1 elements in the weapons used by the Autobots in vehicle mode. Ironhide's cannon is clearly based on the missile launcher from the G1 toy's trailer section. Prowl's two guns reflect the two guns his G1 incarnation had mounted on his shoulders and Sunstreaker's weapon is shaped a lot like the engine piece on the back of his classic G1 form. This continuity shows an artist who knows his subject matter and knows how to blend new and old elements of fan favorite characters.

More than previous issues, Su gets to show off his ability to do some great human expressions. He manages to use them to great effect, ranging from humor to suspsense.

Final Thoughts:
A strong second issue. The pace manages to continue at a slow burn with the layers of the Decepticon conspiracy. It also entices the readers with more of what they want: action with robots in disguise!