Comic Books: "Robots in Disguise" #8 reviewed
Title: "Dinobot Hunt"
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publishing Date: August 8, 2012
Written by: John Barber
Art by: Andrew Griffith
Colors by: Josh Perez and Joana LaFuente
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Edits by: Carlos Guzman
The Dinobots (minus Grimlock) have returned to Cybertron! However, they're not there for a vacation, instead Ironhide has asked them to join him on a mission to go into the wilderness, where a mysterious signal has been detected. Ironhide suspects it might be the Aerialbots, who left in a huff a while ago. Included in this group is Sky Lynx, who doesn't think the Dinobots are needed at all.
Watching all this is Bumblebee and Prowl. Prowl is nervous about the Dinobots. He finds it odd they chose to keep their "Earth" forms. When the pair returns to Autobot High Command, Starscream asks again about the status of the free elections. Everyone else (including Prowl) is for the elections, but Bumblebee gets angry just thinking about it.
Sky Lynx is flying the team into the wilderness, but soon magnetic disturbances begin to disrupt his navigation, causing the giant Autobot to become disoriented. Ironhide tells him to head back home while he and the Dinobots take to the ground to explore. When the team lands, they see nothing at first, but then a large, four legged creature attacks! One by one the Dinobots smash the creature until Slag puts on the finishing touches and destroys it. The Dinobots speculate it's a Turbofox, but Ironhide remembers Turbofoxes and they were not like this! He then finds something else: Silverbolt's wing! He explains there's no way a Turbofox could have taken down the Aerialbot leader. He also senses a low level signal telling him the area is unsafe, akin to the same signal that told the Autobots that Cybertron was alive again. The group decides to make camp for the night.
Prowl and Bumblebee are discussing the elections, and Prowl explains that Bumblebee's fear of Starscream winning is his own fault. He has let Metalhawk and Starscream take center stage in the election discussion, but he needs to put himself out there as the hero of the Great Wars that he is. He is confident that if the elections were held today, Bumblebee would win!
Ironhide is looking over a battle damaged scene. There are no bodies, but there are signs of blast damage and Energon blades, meaning it's just not wild creatures out there. As Slag and Ironhide talk, Ironhide explains his vision of the Pax Cybertronia, the far future where Cybertron rules an Empire of peaceful worlds. He is confident he will live, but more confident that there is a reason for everything that is happening. Slag acknowledges the power of visions and suggests he is a Dinobot in part due to one of his own.
Iacon (The Decepticon Pen)
Swindle approaches Shockwave and tells him he has something the Decepticon will want to hear. He reveals the damaged and shaken Dirge, who tells Shockwave all about Prowl destroying the Constructicons and using Arcee as his assassin. Shockwave asks the pair what they want him to do with this information, and there Swindle sees opportunity!
The Dinobots and Ironhide are settling in for the night. It's Ironhide's theory that the low level signal (which is getting stronger) is from none other than Megatron! As the team rests, Snarl takes first watch. Suddenly, Ironhide hears a noise and grabs his blaster, but before he can do anything, Snarl's damaged body smashes into him! Then he finds Sludge's beast mode head cut off! He calls out Megatron, but he is shocked when it is Swoop who stabs him in the chest with Slag right behind him!
Thus far, the "Robots in Disguise" title has been one full of political machinations and intrigue (while it's sibling title is mostly wackiness and mayhem). This time out however, it's interesting to see a very different type of intrigue played out. Ironhide's vision has ostracized him a bit from the other Autobots, which sounds about right. If you told me I was dead but you were okay because you saw a vision of a far flung future I'd probably react oddly to that too (especially if you magically came back to life somehow). It's nice to separate him and the Dinobots from the others so they can have their own story. I think it's a nice touch that in no way does Ironhide talk down to the Dinobots or treat them like dumb pets. Even though he acknowledges Sludge's less than stellar mental capabilities, he still admires them for doing their jobs well. His dialogue with Slag is actually some of my favorite so far. Slag has often been kind of neglected in Transformers lore. He's there to support Grimlock most of the time, but here he gets to play a Commander role and he acts as a nice sounding board for Ironhide. I have to say that Ironhide's inner monologue was interesting. There is a very good point made here where he says he remembers dying and coming back to life - except this Ironhide never died and came back so far as we know, he was just "recreated" by Alpha Trion from what, we don't know (a backup copy?). If indeed Ironhide "dies" at the end of this issue, it makes sense that the Ironhide we saw at the end of the "Chaos" storyline in the far future is this Ironhide reincarnated. It's a fascinating storyline and I'm curious where it will go in the future.
I did find it interesting and a tad chilling that when asked if the Autobots or Decepticons won, Ironhide basically says it doesn't matter because Cybertronians wind up ruling all. It makes you wonder just how that "rule" happened. In past IDW Universe issues of this continuity, we saw that the world of Gorlam Prime went from an organic existence to a mechanical/Cybertronian-like one on its own via evolution. In the vision Ironhide had, the world looked peaceful and there wasn't a weapon anywhere in sight, so it didn't seem like Cybertron had become some type of military Empire centerpiece. Instead, I kind of wonder if we were to accept Primus as the "Lord of Light" and the primary force for life in the universe, does that equate to his vision of mechanical (or bio-mechanical) life being the default that all life forms eventually adopt? It's a fascinating premise, but I am speculating here.
I enjoyed seeing that these Dinobots are not the same Dinobots of old. They're powerful and all, sure, but there is a underlying thread of discontent with them and we can't quite trust them. Slag's comment about visions having meaning is really interesting and could potentially open up a fascinating facet of the character. I'm hoping this isn't just throw away dialogue and that it is explored more in the future. For some reason, I also found Sludge very likeable in this issue (whereas normally he's just there to smash and then goes away). My favorite part is his head dangling in the panel asking a question. It was a very genuine moment and he seemed almost like a kid tugging at his parent's shirt to get their attention.
So what of their betrayal? I'm almost certain the "low level signal" that grew stronger at the end of the issue is responsible. If indeed Swoop and Slag took down their two teammates first, that's a big clue as the Dinobots generally stick together and are fiercely loyal to each other. At the moment, I'm calling this out as a brainwashing of some sort (something that has happened to other incarnations of the Dinobots in Generation One).
With regards to the elections, I think they need to move that forward already. It's a thread that's been kind of dangling and I'd like to see just who gets elected. Part of me actually does want to see what would happen if Starscream got elected. I think it would be too easy for the book to suddenly have him turn into a raging maniac of a villain if he won. Instead, I'd like to think he would continue the work of the current government, but secretly begin working on plans to increase his own personal power - but not necesarily through military means. I've always thought Starscream would make the ultimate politician and I'd love to see him get the chance to show what he can do with something other than a Null Ray!
Andrew Griffith's artwork is fantastic in this issue. He has one of my preferred styles right now. He doesn't do the "exaggerated proportions" thing, nor does he aim to over stylize anything. All his lines are tight, confident and straight forward. That is not to say they're boring. In lesser hands, Ironhide's rather boxy Cybertronian form could be downright dull, but he makes it look bold, strong and dynamic. He also shows his skill and diversity in the way he draws the Dinobots, who look more organic and curved in shape than their Autobot counterparts. The crazy "Turbofox" critter was also reminscent of a movie-style Ravage, so it was kind of neat seeing that aesthetic come into play in this title. I also find it amusing that slowly but surely the characters keep shifting to their Cybertronian modes. Shockwave is now fully in his "Fall of Cybertron" toy body, which makes perfect sense from a marketing perspective, but I kind of like how no mention is made of it at all. I found myself slightly surprised Swindle wasn't in his "Fall of Cybertron" body (but that may change in future issues, who knows?).
This was a very "talky" issue, with less emphasis on action and more on character, and I really appreciate that. We haven't been in Ironhide's head much since his resurrection mini-series so it was nice to see how the old Autobot has been getting along while still having an air of mystery around his resurrection. The election story doesn't dominate the issue either, it makes just the right impact and then shuffles off to be dealt with later. I enjoyed a lot of the character interactions too, especially Slag and Ironhide's. This is definitely a really nicely done issue.