Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Going Backwards - Stormbringer #1

Covers by Figueroa

OK, my fellow Transfans! Welcome back to another one of the Fanbot's Going Backwards reviews, where we take a look back at some of the best Transformers comics from IDW. This week my offering is a review of Transformers: Stormbringer #1. Let's dive straight in and see "what lies beneath" (Dreamwave comic joke. Whether or not you get it may define your Transfandom):

SYNOPSIS: In flashback, a dark figure stands amidst roiling flames, as someone (later revealed as Optimus Prime) narrates. Shirting to the present, Jetfire and the Technobots are in orbit around Cybertron, where we learn that the planet has been uninhabitable and off-limits for around seven hundred stellar cycles. Discovering an Energon trace, they break protocol, activate shields and head down to check it out. Prime's flashback continues to describe Autobots and Decepticons united against the menace, interrupted by a priority signal from Prowl's detachment of Autobots on Earth. On Cybertron, Jetfire recounts the warnings by Thunderwing (a Decepticon scientist) that the planet was dying due to the stresses placed on it by the Transformers' civil war. Then the landing party is attacked by a group of Decepticons whilst the other two Technobots back on the shuttle are taken out by further attackers. They regain consciousness to the sight of Thunderwing's as-yet-unmoving body and the chanting group who are trying to resurrect him...

THE ART: Obviously Don Figueroa drew this before taking on his highly controversial movie-eqsue art style. And although in my newness to the Transfandom I have not seen his other work with Dreamwave, the art for this is just top notch. Expert use of lines that convey perfectly the pure grittiness and hardcore of Cybertron as a dead husk of a world. His storytelling has almost no equal -- the scenes with Bludgeon and co. in their light-warping armor, and the purely beautiful cover to the right. No matter his style, Don has the TFs absolutely down pat. Josh Burcham with his painted style sends the artwork to new heights of pleasure. His warm palette is great for the copious amounts of fire and brimstone (Revelation much?) and makes my purchase totallyworth it. But wait, there's more. Read on for the full scoop.

THE STORY: Ah, Simon Furman. The great one. of course, his overuse of cliches and the infamous, used-as-every-second-word Furmanisms annoy slightly, but make me smile and enjoy the issue even more. I am always happy with the complex and realistic (if sometimes a bit too Marvel with the fallibility factor) character. Jetfire is the brooding, quiet, and philosophical scientist he should be, the Technobots brilliant and wordy yet with some definite flair and fun that makes them more interesting.

A calculating, antisocial bunch of Autobot prodigies? Hello, that's what we have Perceptor for. Strafe (pictured above) with his reluctance and timidness is good to see. And the portrayal of Cybertron of a barren, lifeless husk of a planet caused by the millions of years of war is very cool and realistic. A sort of Cybertron equivalent of Watchmen, if you will. So all round the story is well-crafted and is a great portrayal of a more realistic Transformerverse -- Marvel Ultimates eat your heart out. So, results overall:

ART RATING: 9.5 out of 10
STORY RATING: 10 out of 10
OVERALL RATING: 10 out of 10

ERRORS: On the cover, Jetfire sports Autobot symbols from a fan-made font, one that erroneously gives the symbol three hashes on each side of the forehead instead of two. The placement of symbols is particularly bad in this issue, with the contours rarely conforming to the contours of the surface they're placed on. In fact, the symbols on Jetfire are so badly photoshopped in they actually erase some of Don Figueroa's pencilling near the edges of the symbols. In the flashback on page 7, Megatron's chest is missing the "squiggle" design seen in all the other flashbacks featuring him. On page 19, all three word balloons are attributed to Afterburner, though they read like they should be attributed to Afterburner, Nosecone, and then Afterburner again. This error was corrected when the issue was published in trade paperback.

VERDICT: A beautiful and expertly executed issue that demonstrates the cred of both Furman and Figueroa. Burcham adds his awesome palette to the mix as well. A solid 10 out of 10! Next month: THUNDERWING!!

Posted by Fanbot at 10:45 pm, WEDNESDAY 9 December


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