IDW Publishing: "Robots in Disguise" #6 Comic Book Review
Title: "Syndromica "
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: June 13, 2012
Written by: John Barber
Art by: Livio Ramondelli
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Edits by: Carlos Guzman
On the world of Arduria, a lone figure lands in a ship to investigate the great catastrophe that has overtaken the planet. Cold and almost lifeless, the Decepticon Shockwave walks into a chamber were a few native Rocs are gathered around a heating unit, trying to hold on to life. Shockwave finds them and only asks when did this catastrophe occur before leaving them to their fates, ignoring their pleas for help!
500,000 Years Later...
The Autobot Hardhead has picked up a signal from the Ardurian System so he has called Optimus Prime (who insists on being called Orion Pax) for assistance. Along with Hardhead, he meets with Wheelie and Garnak at a bar. As they talk, they explain that their "cargo" began to react to the Ardurian signal. We later learn the "cargo" is Jhiaxus! The ancient Transformer who was one of the most destructive forces in Cybertronian history.
Later in the Ardurian system, the Autobots find the planet frozen and dark. Hardhead and Orion explore a nearby structure and find a rocket inside that's draining the planet of all its heat, and right next to it is a gigantic robot: Monstructor! As Orion reports back to the ship Jhiaxus hears that his creation is on the planet and a plan is set in motion. Soon, Monstructor awakens and begins to attack! At the same time on the Autobot ship Bludgeon strikes and releases Jhiaxus!
Hardhead and Orion survive the monster's attack but only because he runs away at Bludgeon's command. As the Decepticons leave, Orion helps Hardhead back to thee Decepticons!
"Robots in Disguise" #6 is a huge change of pace for the title. Instead of the politics of Cybertron and the intrigue around it, we are exposed to a story that is, in many ways, much more straight forward. Once again, Shockwave's machinations from long ago have set something in motion, but here the Decepticons are a clear threat in the story, and Orion with his crew are the one thing standing in their way. In many respects, this is a good change of pace. Intrigue, not knowing who to trust and so on makes for good stories, but sometimes it's also nice to see a tale where you know who the bad and good guys are.
I'm enjoying watching the various Decepticon elements such as Bludgeon, Monstructor and Jhiaxus coming into play. Indeed, with Bludgeon's involvement, part of me would love to see the Monstructor crew get their monster Pretender shells! I'm kind of glad the purpose behind the Decepticon attacks are still unclear. There's something bigger at work here and I'm eager to see what it is!
Another component of the story that fascinates me is Orion Pax's assertion in the beginning that Optimus Prime was just a "role" he took on, but by his name change and the words used, there appears to be an implication that "Optimus Prime" was just as much of a title as someone else would use "King" or "Senator". This is strange to think about since for many readers, Optimus Prime was the character, not just a name. Indeed, Pax's leadership, his willingness to fight the Decepticons and lead a small crew of Autobots shows many "Prime" like qualities, but he seems to be the first to correct anyone calling him Optimus. I almost see Orion as a bit traumatized by his stint as Optimus Prime, which didn't exactly end on a high note and I wonder if all the recent baggage is just something he needed to psycologically jettison before moving on with his life.
The artwork in this issue uses artist Livio Ramondelli, whose gritty, science fiction oriented style fits right in with the theme of a group of Autobots chasing down their prey in the vastness of space, away from help from Cybertron. Ramondelli's style is more suited to this type of tale than what's going on back on Cybertron, which requires a certain style of facial expression and body language that is not as suited to this style of art. I hope as the stories alternate, we keep getting Ramondelli as the artist on the issue so the drastic visual change can help people separate out the two parallel storylines.
I really enjoyed the change of pace in this issue from what we've seen previously. The story was engaging and really set up an interesting mystery. I was also happy to see Monstructor again and hope to see more of him in the future. Recommended!