IDW Publishing: "Robots in Disguise" #7 Comic Book Review
Title: "Interference Patterns"
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: July 11, 2012
Written by: John Barber
Art by: Brendan Cahill
Colors by: Joana LaFuente
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Edits by: Carlos Guzman
While Orion Pax's adventures take place elsewhere, Cybertron is still filled with activity. As the story begins, Wheeljack is inside a Decepticon ship, snooping around in search of whatever they are hiding. As he goes through the ship, he remembers the events leading up to this espionage mission.
Previously, a Decepticon ship landed on Cybertron, revealing its captain as Turmoil, the Decepticon last seen confronting the Autobot known now as "Drift". Everyone is a bit reluctant to welcome Turmoil, but the big surprise is Metalhawk, who remembers Turmoil's campaign on the world of Dabola where he was stationed. He watched comrade after comrade fall. Turmoil reveals the truth however, that it was his then-second-in-command, the Transformer that would become Drift who gave those orders!
Much debate ensues regarding what to do about Turmoil and his crew. Turmoil claims all he wants to do is live in peace on Cybertron, but no one believes him. Without proof however, they have nothing to hold against him, and that's where Wheeljack comes in. As the Autobot sneaks through the various parts of the ship, he finally uncovers the truth. Turmoil had a time travel device created by aliens and then killed them all!
Wheeljack attempts to get out of the ship with his newfound information, but he's found by Turmoil himself who begins to attack! Wheeljack manages to use a containment field to ward off the Decepticon, but his crew shows up shortly after! Damaged and outgunned, it looks like the end for Wheeljack until Metalhawk shows up to even the odds! Wheeljack quickly reveals a harness that forms an energy ball around Metalhawk and himself. The two Autobots literally bust out of the ship and are soon rescued. The ship is stormed and the technology discovered in the ship is now in the hands of the Autobots.
Wheeljack has always been a character I enjoyed seeing in the original Transformers series. His "mad scientist" persona was carried over from his tech specs into the cartoon nicely, and he had a very unique look to him. However, he was never a heavily featured character in comic books until recently. This issue does a great job of showing us that Wheeljack isn't just a substitute for Ratchet. He's a different kind of animal together, a scientist with smarts, neat gadgets and a whole lot of guts. Had a few more pages of this issue focused on Wheeljack, this could've easily been a "Spotlight Wheeljack" issue.
The other character that drew a lot of my attention (after I got over the hilarity of Sky Byte reciting poetry in shark form) was Metalhawk. Thus far, we've seen Metalhawk as a pacificst and a preacher of the ideals of the new Cybertron where all were welcome. Clearly Turmoil represents the limit of his acceptance. Does it seem a bit hypocritic that Metalhawk is open to the likes of Starscream while he wants Turmoil shot where he stands? Maybe, but I think that represents more of the trauma the character went through at the hands of Turmoil. Note that despite his desire to see Turmoil destroyed, he does not actively advocate it after his initial reaction. This adds a layer to Metalhawk beyond being "that annoying guy who keeps arguing with everyone" that we've seen him play up until this point.
Starscream presents an interesting mental exercise every time he appears in this book. Most fans have been trained for years to see Starscream as a self serving, devious Decepticon. Yet all he seems to do in this title now is work with the Autobots and non-aligned Transformers instead of against them. Could it be because his position (relative to other Decepticons) is so comfortable? Is he planning a huge uprising at some point? And did he really not care about Turmoil or was he just worried about potential competition for a leadership role among the Decepticons? I present no answers here, but rather an interesting set of scenarios and questions that come to mind. Starscream's a wildcard and I'm really interested to see what happens with him in the future.
Cahill's art style in this book is interesting. I like his art, but I noticed that with almost all his designs he leans towards more bulky and thick shapes. The design of the Decepticon ship is rather bulky and not sleek at all. The way he draws most characters such as Broadside and Wheeljack really makes them look wider and thicker than I'm used to seeing and even in the close ups of Starscream's head we see the panels that form his "helmet" section are much thicker than usual. It's a very interesting look and somehow makes the Transformers look more "animated" as if these are panels of stills from a cartoon. It's a very interesting style. This is not to say that Cahill is unable to draw more sleek character. His Metalhawk design is very sleek indeed and I like the way he worked "claws" into his hand designs to make him more like the bird of prey in his name.
I also have to give kudos to some of the choices in panel layout in this issue. The pages with Wheeljack's internal monologue are tight and almost claustrophobic, with the tight panels reprsenting both us being in his head and in the tight corridors of the Decepticon ship and then the rest of the panels representing the more wide open spaces of Cybertron itself. Really nice work.
I enjoyed the use of Turmoil as a catalyst for reactions from various characters, especially Wheeljack and Metalhawk. Unlike Sky Byte's arrival, this one was much more ominous and I get this feeling we haven't seen the last of Turmoil. A good story and well done artwork equal to a really good read.