The first page kicks off with a narration from an as yet unseen Autobot. He talks of the conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons and the differing tactics. The Autobots trying to conserve energon, the Decepticons engaging in attacks with wild abandon. He sent one of his soldiers to investigate and has heard nothing, so instead of holding the line he's looking for answers.
Next page tells us it's Grimlock and accompanying him is Sludge, Snarl and Slag (although he is refered to as Slug at one point - typo, or something else we've yet to establish) they don't refer to themselves as Dinobots, Dynabots but simply as the Lightning Strike Coalition. They get torn into the Decepticons while Grimlock narrates and establishes the characters including himself.
Cut to Iacon and Perceptor is watching the battlefields when both Optimus Prime and Jazz appear. It turns our Grimlock's efforts are tearing into the Decepticon lines too successfully and this is in danger of upsetting the long view. Prime barks orders at him to fall back, Grimlock wants to disobey but in the end accedes. He has a bit of an angry exchange with Prime before stalking off. Prime's reason for the energon conservation is to ensure that the Ark can be built and launched.
Grimlock is angry, but before he can rant he gets a secure message from Swoop who has discovered the Decepticons plans and where the energon is coming from. Before he can go into detail the transmission is cut off. Grimlock then says they will go and get him.
The first thing to notice, is this isn't the me Grimlock version, none of the strangled speech patterns. This is the surly, almost mean spirited version from the early days of Bob Budiansky and Simon Furman. Though John Barber does capture the on high version of Optimus against the down and dirty Grimlock conflict we've had before. The story while tying into the Transformers games, could just as easily sit within the Marvel continuity without any changes needing to be made. Future installments may make that a lie, but right now it fits snugly.
The art is detailed and the inks a little scratchy in places, these machines have been in combat, their is damage, wear and tear and pock marks. Details that really make it for me. It might not be to everyone's tastes, it feels like a more modern Will Simpson although a little more angular and detailed.
The colouring is good, although looking at it, I think it needed a more muted and flatter palette to really make the lineart zing.
It's a decent comic, although on first read I was not all that impressed, but re-reading it a couple of times ensured that I enjoyed it more. Certainly it's a cut above a lot of game tie-in comics out there.
'Slag' may have different connotations in different parts of the UK. It's never been a strong word use at all in my neck of the woods. Pretty harmless.
It does seem odd that they were very relaxed about 'Spastic' which pretty much has one meaning over here, and yet for years have been changing 'Slag' which has many meanings and is understood perfectly in context.
Of course, I find it hard to explain to Americans about how words here have different levels of meanings and 'offensiveness' and I'm sure it's the same vice versa.
Whichever way you look at it though, Slug is an absolutely absurd name for a robot dinosaur, or indeed anything that isn't a slug.
Basically, I think poor ol' Hasbro USA has to have someone from the fandom TELL them "Erm, that's a bit on the wrong side" before they make these changes. They just don't KNOW until someone who does says something. Slag took a while to get settled - they dispensed with it as a name when it became the all-purpose Transformers swear, but I imagine when word filtered back that the UK versions of the various shows were actually editing that out that they realized they needed to get rid of it entirely (the Prime cartoon just uses "scrap" now). And when the "Spastic" furor kicked off, they fell over themselves to change it, even removing an in-context use of the word from the online bio of Reveal the Shield Strafe.
As for "slug", though, it's about the same when it comes to words with many meanings - it's not exactly inappropriate for the one Dinobot out of all of them who would be most likely to haul off and "slug" a guy, or to empty a gun full of "slugs" into someone. And given that "Slag" purely just got his name from having a flamethrower that could melt someone to slag, a name based on the gimmick of his vicious personality isn't any better or worse, I don't think.
I seem to recall it took them a good while to react to the 'spastic' thing, staying completely silent while they got more and more bad press. With something that clear cut they should have been on it immediately. Also it made me realise how many American fans are complete assholes.
The problem with slug is that yes, while 'slug' is another name for a bullet, or a punching action, 99 times out of 100 it is the name for a slug.
No matter how much you try to defend or explain it, the first thought will always be of a slimy thing rather than a bullet or whatever.
Slug just feels like it is some sort of weird spell-check error to me. Given that the Slag name probably comes from the whole molten metal connection I'd probably have been more willing to accept something like Clinker as an alternative name before Slug occurred to me.
I quite enjoyed the comic. Perfectly serviceable tie-in material that reads better on the second perusal. I think the art is brilliant. Really different from anything we've seen in a TF comic since Generation 2.
I really rather enjoyed that. I liked the portrayal of Grimlock, and thought the way Prime was characterised was interesting-it was great that for once in recent times we didn't know which of the two was right because the other was so utterly ineffective. I also like the art (reminded me rather more of G2 than Simpson) - the clarity of the storytelling makes it much easier to read on my phone than Livio R's work on Autocracy. Perhaps my enjoyment was increased by zero expectation, but even so, I'll definitely be looking out for future issues. My only fear is that the story won't go anywhere and will simply set up the game.
Script: John Barber Art: Dheeraj Verma Letters: Chris Mowry Colours – Priscilla Tramontano Cover Art – Dheeraj Verna, colours by Sanjay
Grimlock is narrating events as he did in the previous installments, again John Barber gives us the more pragmatic and mean incarnation of Grimlock, before the vocal inflections of his animated incarnation became intertwined with his more intelligent comic portrayal. He's recapping on the purpose of Swoop's mission, and the background behind it. While we see a tank trundling over terrain into hostile territory before transforming and revealing through the artist's rendition and the narration that we are getting to see Swoop. We get a non aerial changeform for Swoop, which is a first and an unusual step, but actually makes sense when you think about the Lightning Strike Coalition/Dynabots/Dinobots. Swoop was always the weaker one in a raw powers sense - yes the flight gave him some advantages but he was really lagging behind the more heavily armoured of his teammates. Special note should be made of the mid transfomation image in panel 4 on page 1. It bears a remarkable resemblence to the transformation in the live action movies - specifically Ironhide's in the first film where he leaps to dodge a missile in Mission City. It's an unusual choice and works well.
Swoop infiltrates the base, and the next few pages are pretty light on narration and dialogue, to emphasis the fact that this is a mission of stealth. Something we wouldn't necessarily think of when dealing with LSC/Dyna/Dinobots but it works very well. The colour palette is suitably dingy and grimy on the backgrounds throughout. As Swoop gets further in we overhear an exchange between two Decepticons and the next page reveals Starscream and Shockwave having a somewhat spirited debate. No histrionics from either, but the dialogue is as much a battle as any fight they ever engage in. Each is trying to assert dominance over the other during the exchange. Starscream is demanding more Energon for their forces, while Shockwave is stating he has found something more important. Starscream gets the most telling line in the last panel on the fourth page as he proclaims "So dramatic for somebody that's supposed to be so logical."
Shockwave's comic portrayals have drawn heavily on his logical thought processes, but many have made the assertion that this is not as slavish a devotion to logic as Shockwave would have everyone believe. IDW's Spotlight: Shockwave doing a fine job of that, but go back further to say Marvel UK's portrayal of Shockwave, who when his leadership was threatened by Galvatron became ever more irrational.
But I digress, we get back to the story and hordes of Insecticons appear and Shockwave is adamant that they will be key to the Decepticons victory, with Starscream less convinced and threatening to report back to Megatron. Swoop is watching all of this unfold, and Shockwave apparently sees him, looks straight at Swoop's position but makes no reference to it in his dialogue and continues his exchange with Starscream. Swoop does his best to scramble away, unsure if he has been spotted by Shockwave, although this becomes an irrelevance when he runs into a horde of Insecticons. In the face of overwhelming odds, Swoop deploys a humourous quip and the far more effective Energon Swords and starts to try and cut his way through the Insecticons. At this point Grimlock's narration kicks back in as we see Swoop being overwhelmed, he starts to broadcast his message (as we saw in Issue 1).
The final page cuts away and we see the four remaining members of the LSC making their way towards Swoop's location, revealing through the narration that Swoop's transmission gave them the location of this Decepticon base. Grimlock again states that the energon will turn the tide in the war and he knows what Prime would do with this intel, so it's a good thing that it's intel he possesses.
The story ends there, but the issue itself doesn't as we get a preview of a few pages from the Fall of Cybertron artbook looking at The Ark and Bumblebee. The art is great and the text is interesting enough. Now not owning a pc or a games console I have no real interest in the games, but the artbook is something I might just spring for.
So the second issue, is in effect the second half of Act One, we get to know what has happened to Swoop and some hints as to the main threat of the remaining issues. At this point it looks like Shockwave and the Insecticons, that could still be the case, but I think John Barber might have a few more surprises for us. As I said in my last review, this comic feels like it could slot into any number of Transformers continuities and not feel out of place. I still think it's a great fit for Marvel, especially given John Barber's portrayals of Grimlock, Swoop and Shockwave.
I'm still enjoying the art, the storytelling is fantastic throughout - clear and easy to read, interesting choices of angles and shot composition to keep the reader engaged and the heavily scratchy inks give it a wonderful look. It's one thing I have to commend IDW on, every one of their Transformers books on the shelves/digital storefront right now has a unique look and feel to it. There is something for everyone at the moment. Long may it continue.
I know this is only a 6 issue mini, but based on what we've been treated to so far a return to this world, by the same creative team would be no bad thing.
Quite enjoyed part 2. I liked Shockwave's portrayal and the way Swoop's mission played out. The art really makes it stand out. I imagine it is going down like a lead-balloon with the fanbase though. It's as far from the Dreamwave-era accepted 'norm' for modern TF comics as you can get. Personally, I love it but I think may readers will not.
Promo for the game artbook looks nice. Alas, I have to point out an error. 'Generation One' did not end in 1990! *fan moment, I do apologise*
Ralph, what do you mean by 'Dreamwave era accepted 'norm''? I don't really see that many people hankering for a return to the Dreamwave comics 'house art' (maybe I'm wrong, so will have a look at the IDW board). Most of the IDW comics have had quite distinctive art, sure there are always people who dislike individual artists (the person who did the Ironhide series is mine), but it hasn't harmed sales as far as I can see (IMO sales bottomed out because casual fans got bored of the franchise and because of a succession of poorly written series).
I think issue 2 continued from issue 1, with art (especially the colouring) and story making good use of the short story format and the limitations of screen size - I think I remember reading that digital comics are more commonly read on phones than tablets, but I could have imagined that.
What I meant related to an observation that for much of the online fanbase that talks about TF comics, there appears to still be a huge liking for the Dreamwave house style. Folk have been moaning about IDW not using that style since 2005! EJ Su's art was actively disliked for years because it wasn't the Dreamwave style, for example.
Many online TF fan commentators either don't read any other comics and/or got into comics by reading the Dreamwave stuff. There seems to have been more acceptance of different art styles in TF comics since Don Figeuro's stint on Costa's ongoing series so my observations may be out of date (especially as I don't like at fanboards as often as I used to).
Last Edit: Aug 30, 2012 13:25:01 GMT by The Doctor
I think I remember reading that digital comics are more commonly read on phones than tablets, but I could have imagined that.
I would not be surprised if that was the case, considering how quickly smartphones have become ingrained in popular culture and everyday life. Tablets sales are on the uptake and as prices goes down I imagine it will balance out a bit.
I've read a few of the issues of this, finding digital comics via comixology to grate me a little, resolution is low and comixology is frankly a bit skant in functionality for my liking. For digital to grab me it'd have to match the resolution of the printed copy at minimum.
Regarding the series itself, reads okay, I already like the setting and have played the whole game so I'm not suprised by much, I already tend to mentally read Slug as Slag. Art has highs and lows and at times seems a little rushed, but overall its a like.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Issue 3 of 6 “Siege Mentality”
Written by John Barber Art: Dheeraj Verma Letters: Chris Mowry Colours – Priscilla Tramontano Cover Art – Dheeraj Verna, colours by Sanjay
We pick up where the last issue left off with the Lightning Strike Coalition team (Grimlock, Slug/Slag, Sludge and Snarl) outside of the complex where Swoop’s last transmission had come from. There’s a bit of banter back and forth between them before they storm the complex. This banter counterpoints the narration from Grimlock which continues throughout the issue.
The four of them exercise brute force, but not mindless, which is one of the points this Grimlock makes. It is a sledge-hammer assault, but with calculated goals in mind, which differs from Optimus’ more hesitant approach, at least in Grimlock’s eyes. This also shows us we aren’t getting the dumb Sunbow Dinobots, but infinitely more interesting characters, with more potential.
They discover Swoop trapped in a hi-tech restraining harness of sorts and his form is different. Grimlock tries to find out what has been done to him, he realises something is wrong here and that they need more help. With that in mind he realises that they need to inform Prime, that there is something bigger going on. Before they can make their escape Shockwave and his assorted hordes of Insecticons appear. Shockwave lets Grimlock know that he has monitored their situation and knows they are alone. He dispatches his Insecticons who overwhelm Grimlock. His narration at this point reveals that he has reached an epiphany as to why Optimus Prime has adopted his approach to strategy and that he may have a point.
Well the story doesn’t really advance a huge amount in this installment, but we get the gang back together ahead of what we know is to come. Again, John Barber does a fantastic job with Grimlock. Painting him as violent, but not unintelligent and with just the right shade of belligerence. It really is one of the best takes on the character that we’ve had in a long time. Shockwave, as well is portrayed well, there are enough hints that perhaps he is not as logical as he would like other Transformers to believe. It’s subtle but well crafted.
The other LSC members don’t really get much development in this, but in these 8 page chunks that can be difficult, and we are left to rely on our familiarity with these characters from other continuities to fill in the blanks. Hopefully they will get a few moments to shine in the remaining three parts.
Again, I am throughly enjoying the artwork, one point I have neglected to mention is that Dheeraj Verma likes the Nick Roche approach to faction symbols by drawing them, as opposed to pasting them in afterwards in Photoshop. A small detail but one that I like. His work feels like it would fit in with Marvel, a G2 meets Will Simpson approach. Not a bad thing in my opinion.
I know the tale is in keeping with Hasbro’s new aligned continuity, but it still fits nicely into place within Marvel with no real problems, something I would wager was not accidental by John Barber.
Another solid issue. So far IDW’s digital Transformers comics have been something I have enjoyed and I do hope they keep them coming.
I'll probably catch up whenever I can next stomach using comixology for long enough. Cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed the Fall of Cybertron game. Really great intrepretation of the Transformers universe for me.
Still loved the art, but the fact I assume it had to have a particular end point meant the story did kind of fizzle out. John Barber is still writing love letters to the Marvel comic with his take on the Transformers though.
I think the story stuttered a lot near the end because it didn't want to go beyond the beginning of the game (which I think tells this particular tell quite well even with large gaps) - but overall I thought it was worth reading.
Already I need a break from comixology though - maybe when I get a decent laptop or phone it'll be more bearable.
Get a tablet, with the Nexus 10 coming out I dare say the HD versions of the comic will be available for that device. (CMX-HD is on the iPad3 with Retina display, but I know there is next to no chance you will ever get an i device.)