IDW Publishing: "Robots in Disguise" #10 Comic Book Review

in 2012, Comic Book Review, Generation One

IDW Publishing

General Information:
Title: "Syndromica" [2]
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: October 10, 2012
Written by: John Barber
Art by: Livio Ramondelli
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Edits by: Carlos Guzman


Cover A Cover B Retailer Incentive

Synopsis:
Under orders from Shockwave, Spectro, Spyglass and Viewfinder have stolen the starship once commanded by Turmoil. The ship itself has the ability to "bend" time, making it quite unusual. The Decepticons begin to get bored, until it encounters LV-117, a planet that appears and disappears! Between the ship and the mysterious planet, time jumps back and forth, giving Viewfinder a quick look at his own death! As the Decepticons try to figure out what's going on, Orion Pax and his crew have been following the Decepticons. Wheelie is afraid of LV-117 since that is the world he was stranded on for a long time! Garnak tries to watch over his friend, but it doesn't help.

When the Autobots land, they discover the ship - but its age and the degradation on Viewfinder's body indicates it's been there over fifty years! Orion begins to explore the ship, but when he reaches a sphere hooked up to wires, he begins to flash through time! First he faces Bludgeon and Monstructor fighting strange creatures. Then he flashes to another time where he meets Turmoil and his crew! He tries to get an explanation but all Turmoil tells him is that he was ordered to go to LV-117 by Shockwave and would be allowed to keep whatever he found. Bludgeon then appears, but then runs away as Orion fires on him! Turmoil takes this as a chance to threaten a native named "Varta". Orion saves him, but then winds up getting him tossed through time! Enraged, Varta morphs from a small creature to a large one!

Optimus Prime and Hardhead

The time jumps begin to become more frequent. Soon, Orion confronts Bludgeon again, and in the process Wheelie appears but Varta is killed! When Jhiaxus shows up with Monstructor, he explains that all of this is in service of making Gorlam Prime the center of a new Cybertronian Empire he has envisioned. Jhiaxus needs a critical control device that falls into Orion's hands when large creatures attack Monstructor! All this happens while LV-117 begins to fall apart. In the ensuing chaos, Orion winds up time jumping back to "his" time where Hardhead and Wheelie greet him, tell him by their perception he's been gone a month!

Soon the Autobots leave to stop Jhiaxus and Shockwave, but he's not sure how and when to do it!

To Be Continued...

Review:
Whew. This was a...difficult issue to get through. Unfortunately, I think what was being attempted here was a comic book version of the last episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" "All Good Things..." where Captain Picard "time jumps" through three different periods in time to unravel a cosmic mystery. It's ambitious, very different than your normal comic book narrative structure and it works to a degree, however I found as the issue progressed and we leapt from time period to time period, things became more and more confusing. Also, after three reads I'm still not 100% sure how Bludgeon was able to move freely through the time periods and know exactly when he would find Orion Pax/Optimus Prime.

Decepticons

This confusing narrative structure really curtailed a lot of my potential enjoyment of the issue. Basically, if you're spending half your time reading an issue going back a page or two to figure out what you're reading, it's probably not going to be a fun ride and it wasn't. Mind you, I'm coming off catching up with "More than Meets the Eye", which itself decided to begin paying more attention to flashbacks than the present story, so the two in concert have kind of left a bad taste in my mouth for both titles.

Monstructor

All this said however, the basic story itself is a sound one. The idea that Jhiaxus and Shockwave are up to no good while trying to establish the "future" Cybertronian Empire is an interesting one, and since we the audience have had glimpses of that Empire, we kind of know it's inevitable, the question is: will it happen under Jhiaxus and Shockwave's cruel terms or by more "humane" methods of expansion? Right now it seems the former might be true! This in itself is intriguing and I'm very curious how Orion hopes to stop an enemy that can literally jump all over time and appears to have a better understanding of the mechanics of time than any Autobot does.

Bludgeon

Livio Ramendelli's artwork is stellar as always. His gritty and "painted" style is a great choice for this "Robots in Disguise" thread since it helps differentiate this story visually from the stories happening on Cybertron. He also has a knack for using character features as a focus on their personalities. Monstructor truly looks monstrous, Optimus/Orion looks strong and heroic while the organic spider creatures look like they come from a nightmare. I also love the painted coloring style he uses. It makes every panel look like it's coming off a canvas. He also does a good job of visually distinguishing each "time period" from the other, be it the sunny landing at the beginning or the "fire and brimstone" end of LV-117 when we see Jhiaxus.

Final Thoughts:
This issue has very rich art, and the core of a good story. However, the execution of that story was less than successful. It's a great idea, but I couldn't help thinking this story would have worked with a bit more set up. Suddenly tossing us into a time period is disorienting and the explanations are kind of delivered with a thud (by necesity of page numbers) so it doesn't become a fun read, it becomes a frustrating one.