IDW Publishing: "Robots in Disguise" #19 Comic Book Review
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: July 3, 2012
Written by: John Barber
Art by: Dheeraj Verma
Colors by: Joana LaFuente
Letters by: Chris Mowry
Edits by: Carlos Guzman
Waspinator is in an alien bar, recounting a story of how he took down a Titan on one of his missions to hunt them down. When the Titan was dying, the Titan activated its internal Space Bridge and took Waspinator with it! Waspinator wound up finding "Death itself" but was able to control the Titan's Space Bridge. Jhiaxus and Bludgeon both listen and quite interested in whether he can do it again!
On the world of Gorlam Prime, Orion Pax (aka Optimus Prime), Hardhead, Wheelie and Garnak are exploring. Hardhead recounts his time living on the world neither "alive" or "dead" thanks to Jhiaxus' experiments. Orion remembers the battles on this world that wiped out its inhabitants when a parallel reality known as the "Dead Universe" invaded this one. As the Autobots explore underground, they find an ancient Cybertronian city that goes back to the age of Primus! However, when Wheelie touches a building his arm begins to dissolve! Hardhead blasts it off to save him. Suddenly, the Ark-27 reports a proximity alert!
The Autobots head above ground to find Waspinator being chased by the Monstercons! When they interfere, the Monstercons combine to form Monstructor! Waspinator begs for help and tells them that Monstructor is after something ancient underground, and Orion Pax finally realizes what is below. He calls to the Titan below and it emerges! Unfortunately, the whole battle has been a set up as Bludgeon and Jhiaxus arrive in their ship. Waspinator connects with the Titan and its Space Bridge, taking it to Cybertron! Jhiaxus explains he will follow Waspinator to Cybertron and that Orion and his team will now die on Gorlam Prime. The balance of the planet has been destroyed and soon the entire world will succumb to the "Ore-2" rust left by Shockwave eons ago.
As the Autobots watch Jhiaxus leave, Orion Pax reveals the whole time he has had his ship the Skyroller hidden under a Ghost Shield! With Jhiaxus having revealed his plans, he now knows it's time to return to Cybertron and save their homeworld to save it.
It's been a while since I've reviewed the "Robots in Disguise" title, and that I mostly ascribe to lack of free time. I figured this prelude to the "Dark Cybertron" series was the best place to start these reviews up again since it kicks off a new storyline.
Starting off this storyline by following up with Orion Pax and his small crew was a good way to do things. While political fallout continues on Cybertron from Starscream's coup, this helps sharpen the focus on just what the stakes are. Having Jhiaxus reveal his plans to Orion Pax not only does a great job of showing Pax outwitting his opponent (to a degree) but it also helps sum things up nicely for us the audience so we can move forward without being too confused by previous threads. It sets things up really nice and simply: Jhiaxus is up to no good, he's got a gigantic Transformer to back him up now and Cybertron is threatened - it's a simple bullet point list of "Oh no!" moments but it gets the magnitude of the threat across clearly.
I have to admit to having a bit of an "Oh no!" moment myself when reading the last couple of pages, but seeing Orion Pax's resolute reaction to Jhiaxus' plans really did a great job of showing us why despite all his denials, he is still "Optimus Prime". If we needed further proof of this, seeing him summon the Titan should put any doubts to rest!
Any review of this issue has to address Waspinator's appearance. A fan favorite since his days on "Beast Wars", I find it kind of interesting how he basically just became a Decepticon in this universe with no reference to being a Predacon or his "Beast Wars" roots. What does that mean? Honestly, the IDW Universe has taken on so many aspects of the various series out there I wouldn't read too much into it. However, his ability to link up with the Titan Space Bridge intrigues me because it does point to there being something special about Waspinator and I really hope that is explored in the future. I'm also very happy his distincive appearance and speech patterns have gone unchanged.
Dheeraj Verma's artwork in this issue was really well done. His style is reminscent of art seen in books like "Heavy Metal". He has carved down the Transformers to essential humanoid forms with armor on them, a style that works well if you look at the way the characters move and pose. Something feels very real and substantial about them and that is not an easy thing to pull of with Transformers. His action scenes with Monstructor and Waspinator really have a cinematic feel to it. One of my favorite panels is Waspinator flying away from the Monstercons. The sense of motion in the panel is fantastic. The coloring uses a painted style that looks almost like watercolor and I love it. Whenever Transformers are shown in this style it always gives a sense of weight and grittiness to them that few styles can match. Verma does an awesome job of it.
If I were to criticize, it wouldn't be Verma's work exactly but rather a general "in-house" lack of consistency in designs from character to character. Optimus Prime for instance is pretty much the same Optimus (aka Orion) we've seen for a couple years now. I can take my Legends Class Generations Optimus Prime figure and compare it to his Orion Pax and it looks almost exactly the same. However, the Hardhead doesn't look like a robot that can transform,, it looks like a generic robot with no distinctive bits hanging off showing parts of the vehicle. I also question Monstructor being the same size as a Titan since one is a city in robot mode while the other is only six Cybertronians in one form. Still, these are nit picks and I'd be lying if I said I didn't really enjoy his art!
This issue serves as a good springboard to get back into the title if you've ignored it for a while. It also features beautiful artwork and exciting adventure. All that and Waspinator! What more could you want?